US Government Declares iPhone Jailbreaking Legal

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US Government Declares iPhone Jailbreaking Legal

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If you own an iPhone and want to "jailbreak" it in order to install non-Apple-certified applications, good news - it's now considered perfectly legal, according to the United States government.

The 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act was hailed as a victory by entertainment industry representatives and hailed as a nightmare by anyone who hates DRM. In a broad and vaguely-defined nutshell, the DMCA essentially made it illegal to circumvent digital protection on various forms of media. Now, however, it seems that the US government may be easing up on the act ... if only slightly.

On Monday, the US Copyright Office released a list of six "classes of works" that breached DRM but were still considered lawful under the DMCA. Included in the ruling were applications that removed restrictions placed on mobile devices like the iPhone - so according to the US government, "jailbreaking" your iPhone to install apps that haven't been sanctioned by Apple is now completely legit. Of course, this only applies to legal software - piracy is still as much of a no-no as it's ever been.

Apple calls jailbreaking an "unauthorized modification of its software," and has in the past released iPhone updates that render jailbroken phones inoperable. The new ruling will not stop the mobile giant from doing so in the future, reports the AP. Moreover, an Apple representative pointed out that jailbreaking an iPhone voided the warranty, and claimed that it could "severely degrade the experience" by making the phone unreliable and unstable.

Still, whatever Apple says, you can now do whatever you want on your phone (as long as the software is legal) and the US gub'mint won't stop you.

The ruling also said that it was legal to crack DRM on computer and videogames, provided that it was for the purpose of "testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities." In other words, if your new DRM makes a user's computer vulnerable to attacks, it's fair game for people to breach it.

It's a small and situational win for anti-DRM advocates, but a win nonetheless, no?

(Edge)

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You buy it, do what you want with it. I'm glad the government understands that today, though not all days.

Don't worry, buddy..it'll get overturned once the government sees the big check Apple will write for them. :D

John Funk:

The ruling also said that it was legal to crack DRM on computer and videogames, provided that it was for the purpose of "testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities." In other words, if your new DRM makes a user's computer vulnerable to attacks, it's fair game for people to breach it.

How tenuous is that definition of "vulnerabilities"?

Could one argue that having a Steam account makes you vulnerable to having that account hacked, therefore it would be perfectly legal to crack your games to run without Steam?

On an unrelated note, what bearing, if any, will this new ruling have on Sony's 'Other OS' court case? Could this new legal precedent be used by either side to support their case?

So... yay Obama?

Lol......I'm sure Apple will soon bribe them with a nice fat check, presumbly with 6 zeros....

EDIT: Freakin Ninja'd 3 times this week

Amusement, from what I can tell this "effectively" makes cracking DRM legal... as long as you legally own the product as you can claim to be "investigating" for security flaws and it'd be hard to prove otherwise. Does still leave piracy, distribution of cracks etc. illegal, which is okay I guess.

That crack DRM thing is very interesting. Would there be a way to argue that, I wonder, to use that in such a way that you'd be able to crack things like Ubisofts DRM as long as you've bought it legally? I'm not sure.

Anyway, another strike against obstructive copyright, it seems. Bravo.

Oh, good. Now I have a legal loophole through which I can give the finger to DRM-toting publishers. All I have to do is say that the DRM undermines the security of my machine and I'm in the clear. No more DRM. Iz nice.

Not that the DMCA ever stopped me. If I don't like a given DRM scheme I crack it. My computer, my software, my rules. If I don't like a given DRM scheme it's gone. No exception.

I wonder...how many other companies other than Apple happen to be affected by this, if any at all? If not conspiracy theory abounds that Microsoft was not wasting their cash as was supposed. Then again, who else but Apple has the monopoly on hanhelds the way they do?

But meh...maybe I'm just being paranoid at this point. Pressure being placed on, or even outright bribery, of the DMCA law-makers is easy to just throw around to be hip, but always difficult to prove so...for now I take this as good news.

well this is certainly a step in the right direction

Well, that's good news for anyone that bought an iPhone, because Apple is notorious for trying to go through legal channels to make it impossible to use their hardware for anything other than what they can profit from.

Also, the ruling on cracking DRM is just plain awesome.

I guess Obama likes to crack open his electronics as much as anybody else.

...Even so by the time you figure out how to turn your iPhone into a microwave oven, a new model will come along making your entire effort completely pointless.

Well, it may be a small win. But baby steps people, baby steps.

And hey, developers, if you don't want people cracking your DRM, how about you make it so it doesn't punish consumers for buying the game legit?

Fine work by the US government it seems... Now I'll just have to wait the mandatory 4 years for it to happen over here... Providing my country is still here in 4 years...

I would be more worried about Apple killing the phone than the FBI busting down my door.

Not sure how long this will last but a victory nonetheless.

Apparently Apple's armies of lawyers couldn't lobby their way out of this one...

I wonder how apple will respond? Thats pretty awesome though! Heh

Ummm.... There's something wrong about it... Hmm......... Did the source of the news checked it thoroughly? :O

This means I can play games on my mac using cracks 'cause Wine dislikes a lot of DRM LEGALLY?! Whoo! I'm going to go get Assassin's Creed!
Or maybe not, actually. I didn't much care for it when I tried it on my 360... Still, I could. And it tastes sweet.

you Americans get to circumnavigate security mobile devices eh? Would that include PSP and DS?

Ah, now all my jailbroken stuffs is totally legal :D take THAT Jobs, you turtlenecked fuck

Every little bit helps, I am still hoping for changes/repeals on the current DRM laws and instead of laws making it illegal to bypass copy protection, to make it illegal to place DRM on software. :)

Hey, what can I say, I grew up with computers like the C-64 and such when making backup copies was actually encouraged and recommended. I see being able to back up software this way as being one of the rights you have from buying it to protect your investment if nothing else.

I never quite got millions of people paying insane ammounts of money for almost tearly updates of a product that is a totally closed off platform that is titgly controled by a corporation who's stance seems to imply positioning for a monopoly made by salve labour in china. What the hell is the markup on an I-Phone?

IT will be legal....until the lawyers of apple get here.

I wonder if it effects Nintendo's combat against homebrew on their consoles?

Chamale:
You buy it, do what you want with it. I'm glad the government understands that today, though not all days.

That's how it used to be, but these days all companies want more control. You can't connect to XBL unless you install NXE, which causes older systems like mine to slow down substantially. I can't try taking online elsewhere either. In these respects MS owns my system as much as I do because they dictate how it's used pretty much as much as I can.

It also goes to software, movies, etc. If I wanted to lend a movie to a friend, used to be that was okay, now it's technically illegal (though not really enforced). Technically, it's against the law for a family to watch a movie they've purchased unless all viewing members have paid for the same movie.

Big business has a say in how laws are made, laws will be made to favor them over the consumer. The DMCA is a prime and perfect example of this. It's the same evil that lobbyists use to keep pharmaceuticals expensive, and led to attempts to patent genomes.

I'm out before I rage.....

Unrulyhandbag:
you Americans get to circumnavigate security mobile devices eh? Would that include PSP and DS?

As far as I am reading it correctly, the source document only refers to "wireless telephone handsets" and not all mobile devices. Also, the video game ruling only refers to "video games accessible on personal computers."

Nevermind iPhones; what effect does this ruling have on making Hackintoshes?

Icehearted:
I am still hoping for changes/repeals on the current DRM laws and instead of laws making it illegal to bypass copy protection, to make it illegal to place DRM on software. :)

Even if they could get support for that, there's no way it would work. How would you define "DRM"? Would things like Steam have to be shut down? Because having the games tied to your account has major benefits in the multiplayer scene that have nothing to do with copy protection. What about 30-day trial software? Wouldn't this outlaw whatever they do to prevent you from just reinstalling it every month?

Icehearted:
Hey, what can I say, I grew up with computers like the C-64 and such when making backup copies was actually encouraged and recommended.

Ha ha ha ha. Apparently you aren't aware that not only did a lot of software companies employ hardware-level copy protection on their disks, the way they did it actually caused legitimate use of their software (the original disk, not a copy) to break your disk drive if you used it too much. This is why it's very hard to find functional Commodore disk drives secondhand now. (Well, that and the fact that worn-out and unreadable disks have the same effect, which most probably are by this point.)

Icehearted:
Technically, it's against the law for a family to watch a movie they've purchased unless all viewing members have paid for the same movie.

[citation needed]

i have always wanted the grooveshark app but thought it would be illegal, not anymore :)

Jamash:

John Funk:

The ruling also said that it was legal to crack DRM on computer and videogames, provided that it was for the purpose of "testing for, investigating, or correcting security flaws or vulnerabilities." In other words, if your new DRM makes a user's computer vulnerable to attacks, it's fair game for people to breach it.

How tenuous is that definition of "vulnerabilities"?

Could one argue that having a Steam account makes you vulnerable to having that account hacked, therefore it would be perfectly legal to crack your games to run without Steam?

On an unrelated note, what bearing, if any, will this new ruling have on Sony's 'Other OS' court case? Could this new legal precedent be used by either side to support their case?

Strictly speaking this isn't actually a new interpretation... Well, the security vulnerabilities thing is. One of the elements of the DMCA allows for bypassing a DRM to improve system interoperability, which is exactly what people do when they jailbreak an iPhone or if they were to get an alternate OS installed on the PS3. This is something that's been protected on the user side since 1998.

Now, cracking Steam content? That's a maybe, you'd need someone with more familiarity with he DMCA than I have to tell you for certain.

Steve the Pocket:
Nevermind iPhones; what effect does this ruling have on making Hackintoshes?

I've never seen that term before, but if it's hacking the Mac OS to run on a non-apple system, that's always been an exemption from the DMCA.

Steve the Pocket:

Icehearted:
I am still hoping for changes/repeals on the current DRM laws and instead of laws making it illegal to bypass copy protection, to make it illegal to place DRM on software. :)

Even if they could get support for that, there's no way it would work. How would you define "DRM"? Would things like Steam have to be shut down? Because having the games tied to your account has major benefits in the multiplayer scene that have nothing to do with copy protection. What about 30-day trial software? Wouldn't this outlaw whatever they do to prevent you from just reinstalling it every month?

It's a little more apocalyptic than that. The Region coding on DVDs has been protected under the DMCA as a DRM. Which means, if you were to outlaw DRMs wholesale, that would (theoretically) be the end of DVD sales. Every DVD on the market would have to be reissued again from scratch. New hardware would be needed across the board, not because they couldn't read the unencrypted disks, but because they would still be set up in association with the now illegal DRM scheme. And this isn't even getting into issues like how Microsoft would have to reissue their entire library for the 360. Yeah... that's not happening.

So, yeah, I'm with Steve om this one Ice. You may not like DRMs for whatever reason, but they do serve a number of necessary roles. And, so far as it goes, there've always been legal options in bypassing them.

Steve the Pocket:

Icehearted:
Hey, what can I say, I grew up with computers like the C-64 and such when making backup copies was actually encouraged and recommended.

Ha ha ha ha. Apparently you aren't aware that not only did a lot of software companies employ hardware-level copy protection on their disks, the way they did it actually caused legitimate use of their software (the original disk, not a copy) to break your disk drive if you used it too much. This is why it's very hard to find functional Commodore disk drives secondhand now. (Well, that and the fact that worn-out and unreadable disks have the same effect, which most probably are by this point.)

My recollection was, with the C64 there was a range at the outer edge of the disk that could be read, but not written to, and attempting to write to it would damage the drive. Of course, even just reading it would put an additional strain on the drive, and Commodore gleefully used this to ensure people weren't copying disks at home.

Now, what Ice is remembering correctly (at least as far as I recall from growing up at about the same time) was the perception back then, that copying disks was legal, and should be encouraged, to ensure there were backups, and if your friend happened to borrow a backup, so what? But it was never legal, nor legally encouraged.

Steve the Pocket:

Icehearted:
Technically, it's against the law for a family to watch a movie they've purchased unless all viewing members have paid for the same movie.

[citation needed]

Yeah... no. Okay, so, there's the prohibition on public exhibition (I think it's "exhibition," anyway) which you'll see on a warning screen for almost any DVD you purchase. What this means is, you can't slap the DVD up in front of attendees at a convention, you can't sell tickets to a viewing using the DVD, you can't run it at a neighborhood BBQ for everyone to see. When you're in your living room with your family and friends, that's not a public exhibition. So, yeah, you're fine.

One exception: teachers get an "educational" exemption. There are still limitations, but, basically it's legal to show a film to your class.

SODAssault:
Well, that's good news for anyone that bought an iPhone

Nope. This changes nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Apple are still going to void warranties and refuse repairs to those who bring custom firmware iphones into the apple store and they are still going to close unlocking loopholes. All this means is apple cannot take legal action against you for the unlocking. Which they do not even bother with now.

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