On Monday, much to the delight of the jailbreak/modding community, the Federal government has reached a decision making it possible for iPhone owners to "legally "break electronic locks on their devices in order to download applications that have not been approved by Apple." Although the questionable "legality" of such actions never inhibited many from doing so, the Federal Government is now formally sanctioning the actions under new rules announced just today.
This outcome, of course, (which may not necessarily apply to the iPad) is far from an arbitrary development. For well over a year, the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation
) has lobbied the government to move in this direction. Since Apple formally declared jailbreaking illegal
, Rock (who approached EFF first), was promptly joined in support
by Saurik, Planetbeing, Cydia, Mozilla, Skype, and others who have openly spoken out in favor of the eventuality that finally set in today.
Apple (a "jealous and arbitrary feudal lord
," according to the EFF) has staunchly opposed Jailbreaking on claims of copyright protection. As a result, the Cupertino-based tech giant has long been at odds with the EFF and its position that consumers should be able to run any application including those that Apple doesn't approve of. Today, however, the Federal Government sided with the EFF and effectively authorized "jailbreaking," which comes as one of a few important new exemptions from a federal law "that prohibits the circumvention of technical measures that control access to copyrighted works."
Every three years the Library of Congress "authorizes such exemptions to ensure that existing law does not prevent non-infringing use of copyrighted material." Additional exemptions will:
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 should be noted, however, as reported by Bloomberg, that iPhone users "still may risk voiding their warranties if they make changes to the device in order to get applications not approved by Apple." That assessment comes from Brian Marshall, a technology analyst with Gleacher & Co in San Francisco. This happens quite frequently with people who want to change the format on the phone and have more flexibility, but when you do that you void the warranty, Marshall told Bloomberg.