Library of Congress adds DMCA Exception OKing iPhone Jailbreak
Jailbreaking Your iPhone is Officially Not a Crime
Big news for iPhone fans who don't like AT&T: jailbreaking your iPhone is now legal. As long as the software you use to alter the firmware or software of your device is legally obtained, you're good to go. This development comes as Congress revisits the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).
However, Apple (or any company that locks down its hardware) is not obligated to make such a practice easy. Companies can still go after the end user for breaching a service contract, but at least the jailbreak itself is not inherently illegal. This is good news because it recognizes that, when a user buys an iPhone, that phone belongs to the user, and not to AT&T.
Ths is good news for app developers who don't want to deal with Apple's strange App Store criteria, and want to reach out to end users directly.
Note that this means you can now unlock your mobile phone from its carrier tether as well, but you've probably been doing that for years anyway. (This is a bigger deal for CDMA/TDMA phone users, whereas anti-contract folks who carry GSM handsets just swap out the SIM cards.)
Remixing Is Not A Crime, Either
Remixing videos on Youtube (and its ilk) is also now legal, as well as breaking DRM locks on DVDs for educational or commentary purposes.
What's more, the DMCA still broadly forbids distributing to the public any "technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof" that's primarily designed to break access controls, so Apple can always go after the Dev Team directly -- and we'd still keep those dreams of opening Joe's Jailbreak Hut on ice for now.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been fighting for these rights for quite some time, and are thrilled with the changes to the DMCA.
"Copyright law has long held that making programs interoperable is fair use," confirmed Corynne McSherry, EFF's Senior Staff Attorney. "It's gratifying that the Copyright Office acknowledges this right and agrees that the anticircumvention laws should not interfere with interoperability."