US Courts Say Jailbreaking and Unlocking are Legal

I know you’re probably saying, “What? Jailbreaking was illegal?”. Well, no it wasn’t really illegal. The actual act of opening your device to allow you to install what ever you want on it certainly not illegal, but will void your warranty. With over 6 million people jailbreaking their iDevices, it would seem the voiding the warranty is not really a concern.

Today, The WashingtonPost is reporting that a US court has ruled that it is not illegal to jailbreak the iPhone.

Owners of the iPhone will be able to legally break electronic locks on their devices in order to download software applications that haven’t been approved by Apple Inc., according to new government rules announced Monday.

The decision to allow the practice commonly known as “jailbreaking” is one of a handful of new exemptions from a 1998 federal law that prohibits people from bypassing technical measures that companies put on their products to prevent unauthorized uses. The Library of Congress, which oversees the Copyright Office, reviews and authorizes exemptions every three years to ensure that the law does not prevent certain non-infringing use of copyright-protected material.

In addition to jailbreaking, other exemptions announced Monday would:

  • 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.

It is great to know, for sure, that the jailbreak community is safe from¬†persecution, in the US. Although, this federal law has been in place since 1998, it has never been enforced by Apple. Now, they don’t have a choice but to just let it happen.

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  1. Thank goodness. The DMCA is wacky to say the least.

  2. TeenWolf says:

    How will this change the dynamic of the cat and mouse game? Will apple loosen it's grip? Will jailbreaking become more “mainstream”? Will still void your warranty? These are the questions that will be answered in time.

    Although this is huge for the dev team and other third party devs. I dont see an immediate impact coming to the end user. The way I interpret the ruling is that now the dev team cannot be sued for infringing on apples ios. Sure unlocking is now legal but I didn't see where AT&T is forced to unlock the phone upon the consumers request.

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