Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Cellphones Iphone United States Apple Your Rights Online

Jailbreaking iPhone Now Legal 423

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wait-for-the-appeal dept.
whisper_jeff writes "The US government on Monday announced new rules making it officially legal for iPhone owners to 'jailbreak' their device and run unauthorized third-party applications, as well as the ability to unlock any cell phone for use on multiple carriers." The EFF has further details on this and some of the other legal protections granted in the new rules.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Jailbreaking iPhone Now Legal

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:23PM (#33031664)

    Press release from EFF:

    http://www.eff.org/press/archives/2010/07/26

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:28PM (#33031846)

    Reverse-engineering for interoperability was always covered by fair use, and that's what this is. Perhaps distribution of the software might have been illegal in some cases, but that's a non-issue since most of the iPhone Dev Team isn;t based in the US anyway.

  • by yar (170650) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:39PM (#33032074)

    The Librarian of Congress is appointed by the President. The Register of Copyrights is appoints by the Librarian.

    There is an extensive rule-making procedure for this process (Section 1201 rulemaking- see the featured link at copyright.gov). Unfortunately, those asking for the exemptions generally bear the burden of proof, and have to ask for the exemptions every three years. It is difficult to plan based on these exemptions.

  • by yar (170650) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:42PM (#33032128)

    Not quite. While reverse engineering is ordinarily legal, the anti-circumvention provision of the DMCA doesn't make allowances for fair use or other uses that may have otherwise been legal. That's one of the reasons the Section 1201 rulemaking procedure exists; to see if there are legitimate reasons for circumventing technological protection measures. I think it's a bit backwards, personally.

  • by paazin (719486) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:46PM (#33032206)
    Note, this isn't the only thing that came up. The AP mentions several more:


    - allow owners of used cell phones to break access controls on their phones in order to switch wireless carriers.

    - allow people to break technical protections on video games to investigate or correct security flaws.

    - allow college professors, film students and documentary filmmakers to break copy-protection measures on DVDs so they can embed clips for educational purposes, criticism, commentary and noncommercial videos.

    - allow computer owners to bypass the need for external security devices called dongles if the dongle no longer works and cannot be replaced.

    All of which sound like pretty much what I've heard people complaining about for years now. Good to see the valid exemptions to the law are finally being updated to be somewhat logical.
  • by Lyrrad (219543) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:49PM (#33032288) Homepage

    No, it wouldn't apply to the iPod Touch or PS3.

    The exemptions are limited to exactly what the Librarian puts in their rules. Because the rule in question only mentions "wireless telephone handsets', it would not apply to iPod touches or PS3's.

    The provision is as follows:

    Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.

    The full list of exemptions is here [loc.gov]

    There is a video game exception, but it only applies to those on PC's and only if used for security testing.

  • Re:Correction: (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lyrrad (219543) on Monday July 26, 2010 @12:55PM (#33032404) Homepage

    Actually, these rules don't affect whether or not it was legal before.

    This rulemaking power is built into the DMCA, and don't have any retroactive effect that as far as I can tell.

    These exemptions are only for a limited time of three years. Assuming it was illegal before to jailbreak, it is would now be legal until the exemption fails to be renewed. However, actions could still be filed on jailbreaks from last week, for instance.

  • by pgmrdlm (1642279) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:07PM (#33032606) Journal
    http://www.copyright.gov/1201/ [copyright.gov]

    1. (1) Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:
    1. (i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;
    1. (ii) Documentary filmmaking;

    (

    1. iii) Noncommercial videos.

    (

    1. 2) Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.
    1. 3) Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is initiated by the owner of the copy of the computer program solely in order to connect to a wireless telecommunications network and access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network.
    1. (4) Video games accessible on personal computers and protected by technological protection measures that control access to lawfully obtained works, when circumvention is accomplished solely for the purpose of good faith testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities, if:
    1. (i) The information derived from the security testing is used primarily to promote the security of the owner or operator of a computer, computer system, or computer network; and
    1. (ii) The information derived from the security testing is used or maintained in a manner that does not facilitate copyright infringement or a violation of applicable law.
    1. (5) Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace; and

    (

    1. 6) Literary works distributed in ebook format when all existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text editions made available by authorized entities) contain access controls that prevent the enabling either of the book’s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render the text into a specialized format.
  • by tknd (979052) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:11PM (#33032672)

    First off, rooting android is not the same as jailbreaking iphone. If your android comes with "enable unknown sources" which most devices do (except some ATT versions) then you can get most of the functionality you need through 3rd party apps or apk files. For example if I develop a new app, I don't need to go through the provisioning BS that apple makes you go through. I just get a device, drop the apk on it, and test it. I don't need to have the phone hooked up to a computer or anything.

    Most of the people rooting android are interested in a fully customized/3rd party rom, not just root privileges. That's way different than Apple because most of the people jailbreaking iphones are interested in apps that aren't blessed by Apple.

  • Re:Correction: (Score:5, Informative)

    by mea37 (1201159) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:11PM (#33032688)

    That's not law? Funny, because it's exactly how the majority of law in the U.S. works. The statute defers to regulations, and the regulations then have the force of law as given to them by the statute. This particular statute puts structure around the regulations, forcing them to be somewhat more dynamic than you might expect, but that's really neither here nor there.

    The copyright office's exemptions absolutely have the effect of changing what is legal, because the DMCA says so. What is or is not legal changes without the passage or signing of a new bill; it happens all the time.

  • Re:hooray (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:12PM (#33032696)

    Tying a hardware warranty to software is and has always been illegal.

    The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act [wikipedia.org] says that a manufacturer cannot void a warranty because of an aftermarket replacement part unless they can prove that the part caused the failure (e.g. those early unlocks that scrambled the baseband's IMEI info).

    In short, Apple cannot legally void the warranty for a mere jailbreak, but could void the warranty for an unlock that goes wrong and bricks the phone by damaging the baseband or boot loader.

  • Re:hooray (Score:2, Informative)

    by HermMunster (972336) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:19PM (#33032818)

    This is not true. Not completely. Laws clearly state that unless the modification caused severe enough damage only then can the warranty be voided. In other words, just unlocking an iPhone that was designed to be bricked in the unlock process (by Apple) would not void the warranty.

    I'm surprised Ars didn't mention unlocking of cell phones--something that had been granted in the past.

    It also makes it illegal for Apple to do the inverse. In other words they can't stop the jailbreaking by breaking things during the jailbreak process.

  • by Sprouticus (1503545) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:33PM (#33033084)

    Not true. By clarifing how the law is to be applied this is limiting how media companies (and phone manufacturers) can use the existing DMCA to limit use. This was already being done by Apple and big media to limit fair use. Obviously the blurred line between hardware and software (especially in phones) is the real tricky part of this, and the one which needed clarification.

    I still hate the DMCA, but (and yes, I have to bring politics into this) it looks like the Obama Administration finally got something right in regards to copyright and fair use/first sale.

  • by paeanblack (191171) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:40PM (#33033228)

    The DMCA only really applies when you distribute copies after circumventing copy protection. If you keep them to yourself, you are operating within the bounds of fair use

    "Fair Use" is an available defense against an allegation of copyright infringement. If nothing is being copied, then saying it is "within the bounds of fair use" is like saying it is "within the bounds of self-defense", or "within the bounds of insanity".

    Also, keep in mind that claiming a "Fair Use" defense means you are recognizing the applicable law as valid, and you are admitting guilt in violating that law. You are using the defense solely to mitigate your liability. The term has quite a bit of baggage attached...don't toss it around lightly if you don't know what you are talking about and expect people to understand you.

  • by russotto (537200) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:42PM (#33033254) Journal

    So does that essentially mean that no more daycare centers will be sued for having disney characters painted on their walls? Now more totally absurb strain on progress created by the inability to reference other works due to overbearing copyright law? Or not?

    Not. It also doesn't affect the legality of devices (including software) meant to do the circumvention; the circumvention is now legal but the tools are not (because the LoC does not have the power to make them so).

    This is a meatless bone thrown to a starving dog, nothing more.

  • by Macblaster (94623) on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:42PM (#33033260) Homepage
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 26, 2010 @01:50PM (#33033424)

    1201(a)(1)(C/D) gives power to the Librarian of Congress to exempt acts of circumvention (the "No person shall circumvent.." part) but there's no similar LoC modification to tools part (1201(a)(2), which starts with "No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in.."). So while it has become legal to jailbreak, it's still illegal to write or sell a program that does it. Thus each user much have technical expertise. And you're allowed to have and use a computer program that enables your phone, but you're not allowed to write that program.

  • Re:hooray (Score:3, Informative)

    by joeyblades (785896) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:13PM (#33033892)

    The problem is that it's almost impossible for the user to determine the root cause of the problem. Is the display not working because of a software issue or a hardware issue? If it's a harware issue, is it due to bad software that caused an early life wearout mechanism?

    Apple and/or AT&T are not obligated to perform the service to diagnose this problem once an unauthorized software/os configuration is installed on the device. The reason that they are not obligated is because you agreed to this constraint with your service contract.

    Being legal to jailbreak your phone is not the same thing as the provider being obligated to honor a contract you broke in the first place. Magnuson-Moss exempts service contracts.

  • Re:Warranty? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:24PM (#33034088)

    You must not have used early versions of X11. Back in the old days you needed to enter in the horizontal and vertical refresh rates and resolutions... Improper configuration could damage some CRT screens.

  • by Kirijini (214824) <kirijini@nOspam.yahoo.com> on Monday July 26, 2010 @02:33PM (#33034252)

    it looks like the Obama Administration finally got something right in regards to copyright and fair use/first sale.

    I'm an Obama supporter, but Obama had nothing to do with this. The Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress, which is a creature of Congress. The new exemptions were recommended by the Registrar of Copyrights, Marybeth Peters [wikipedia.org], who has been in office since 1994. Her boss, the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington [wikipedia.org], has been in office since 1987.

  • Re:hooray (Score:3, Informative)

    by webdog314 (960286) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:34PM (#33035328)

    In short, Apple cannot legally void the warranty for a mere jailbreak, but could void the warranty for an unlock that goes wrong and bricks the phone by damaging the baseband or boot loader.

    Actually, yes, Apple (and any other company) can and does void the warranty for a mere jailbreak. You agreed to the terms of the warrantee when you bought the product, and those terms state that you shall not jailbreak your device. The fact that you can now do so without being criminally prosecuted according to the law does not absolve you from your contractual obligations.

  • by dpolak (711584) on Monday July 26, 2010 @03:56PM (#33035622) Journal
    Canada is currently working on a law that makes service providers and manufactures provide unlock codes when a phone is purchased outright and/or when a contract is complete. This is at the customer's request and at no additional fee.

    We may just see it happen in the Great White North!

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

Working...