Apple Going After Jailbreakers Again... NOT.
[FACEPALM: The original story on thegrio.com appears to be based on outdated info from before the DMCA ruling. It then got picked up by WECT-TV, the Mac blogosphere, and - ouch - me. h/t @mrpauldurden via @MuscleNerd. Self-pwned, -PDA]
Despite losing in court last year, Apple is still trying to crack down on jailbreakers and unlockers. This time, they're asking the US Copyright Office
for help, using specious arguments about software piracy and copyright infringement. Though these arguments are not new, and had been rejected by federal regulators in last July's decision, it's clearly Apple's hope that if they complain loudly enough and frequently enough, eventually they'll either find a venue where they'll get a favorable ruling, or scare people away from making modifications to their own devices without Apple's sanction.
The Librarian of Congress, who oversees the US Copyright Office, released new exemptions to the Digital Copyright Millennium Act last year which ruled that jailbreaking or unlocking an iPhone or any other device is not illegal. The ruling was clear and unambiguous, and even went so far as to state that there was "no basis for copyright law to assist Apple in protecting its restrictive business model." In a response almost childlike in its vindictiveness, Apple then released a statement vowing to void the warranty of jailbroken or unlocked devices, which is an action that is still permitted under the law, but seemingly aimed more at intimidating users than providing product support.
Today - in an NBC news report
that rather typically confuses jailbreaking, unlocking, and pirating - we're learning that Apple has directly approached the Copyright Office asking them to crack down on the practice of jailbreaking, saying in part that "current jailbreak technologies now in widespread use utilize unauthorized modifications to the copyrighted bootloader and operating system, resulting in the infringement of the copyrights in those programs." This gambit comes despite the fact that the Copyright Office explicitly stated in July that "while a copyright owner might try to restrict the programs that can be run on a particular operating system, copyright law is not the vehicle for imposition of such restrictions."
Even if Apple fails once again to legally sanction users who want to modify the devices they have bought and paid for, the mere request itself may serve to dissuade developers for writing apps or tweaks for Cydia, fearing that they may be slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit. It's difficult to see this as anything other than bullying behavior on Apple's part.