Posted by: David Harley | July 27, 2010

Prison Breaks Now Legal?

Of course, I’m talking about iPhone jail-breaking, not the sort of prison break that requires you to wear strange tattoos on television.

Apple has long maintained that jailbreaking is illegal, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, though it’s never actually invoked the law in order to request that a fine be imposed on an iPhone user who jailbreaks their phone. 

Whereas the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has maintained that the law, intended to deter copyright infringement, has been misused “chill competition, free speech, and fair use”, and has specifically sought exemptions, under the US Copyright Office’s Rulemaking process, for activities such as video remixing, media repair, and cellphone unlocking.

CNN reported yesterday that the Copyright Office has now granted a number of exemptions, including jailbreaking, unlocking, and fair use “vidding”, as well as the circumvention of e-book controls “to enable read-aloud functions or to render the text into a specialized format”, which makes it easier to generate material suitable for the visually impaired. Apple’s response is outlined here.

(Tip of the hat to Jeffrey Walton for flagging this: as a non-American I could easily have missed it.)

Meanwhile, Matthew Lasar noted at ars technica that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has just ruled that “breaking through a digital security system to access software doesn’t trigger the “anti-circumvention” provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.” Again, the contention here is that this ruling supports “fair use”.

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
Mac Virus Administrator
Small Blue-Green World
AVIEN Chief Operations Officer

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Responses

  1. […] It’s “wrong” because it’s a breach of the agreement between Apple and the customer, though the legal issues have probably been overstated (see here and here). […]

  2. […] may be legal (Jailbreaking in Europe, Prison Breaks Now Legal?), but that doesn’t make it […]


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