Jailbreaking may soon be illegal again
On the day of July 26th, 2010, the United States government made the act of jailbreaking electronic devices legal by federal law. This helped clear up a lot of the confusion that surrounded the world of jailbreaking and soothed the worries that many people had about the legality of jailbreaking.
The past two years, we have enjoyed this freedom, with the most recent jailbreak being of the iPhone 4S and iPad 2. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), we may lose that freedom this year if we don’t act soon.
The EFF writes:
“Smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles are powerful computers with lots of untapped potential. Yet many of these devices are set up to run only software that’s been approved by the manufacturer. Modifying a device to run independent software – known as jailbreaking – is important to programmers, enthusiasts, and users. But jailbreaking creates legal uncertainty. Some device manufacturers claim that jailbreaking violates Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which carries stiff penalties.”
If the government has already made jailbreaking legal, what are the people at the EFF worried over? The ruling that was handed down by the Copyright Office in 2010 is due to expire this year and the EFF is looking to convince the Office to renew the exemption. Without it, jailbreaking will again fall back into the semi-illegal state, allowing device manufacturers the power to pursue legal action against jailbreakers at their will.
So what can we do? The EFF provides this link to the Copyright Office’s comment board. The Office needs to hear why folks think that jailbreaking is so important. Here are some suggested elements to include:
- Which jailbreaking exemption are you supporting—smartphones/tablets, video game consoles, or both?
- What’s your background (are you a developer, hobbyist, user, independent researcher, etc.)?
- What device do you want to ensure you have the legal authority to jailbreak?
- What limitations would you face if you weren’t able to jailbreak?
Comments should be marked as class “5″ and are due by 5 PM ET on February 10. We’ll obviously keep you updated on the EFF’s progress and will keep a watchful eye out for the Copyright Office’s decision.