Mobile Nature :

Sweeping Landmark Ruling, Now Legal to Jailbreak iPhone in US

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has been a blessing for some and a curse to many since its inception back in 1996 as part of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) accords.

Wether you love it or hate it, the DMCA has shaped and carved the digital landscape from technologies, business models, to the use and ownership of content. Whole industries have been created and destroyed based on its legal interpretations. Millions have flowed into the accounts of law firms.

Furthermore, it is not a dead document. Every 3 years the Library of Congress, who oversees the US Copyright Office, has the unenviable duty of reviewing complaints, interpreting provisions of the law and handing down decisions. What they may have given they may also take away.

The following is but a short list of the major legal battles decided around DMCA.

  • Edelman v. N2H2
  • Viacom Inc. vs. YouTube, Google Inc.
  • IO Group, Inc. v. Veoh Networks, Inc.
  • Vernor v. Autodesk
  • Lenz v. Universal Music Corp

Yes it is a mouthful, “Statement of the Librarian of Congress Relating to Section 1201 Rulemaking” but in their most recent decision the Library of Congress has ruled that, “(2) Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.”

Not a single mention of the iPhone or the term “jailbreaking” and yet the arrow hit its target. The Electronic Frontier Foundation had argued the case that the owner of the iPhone had the right to jailbreak the phone, Apple heartedly disagreed. The Apple iPhone will not be the only device affected, all phones will be affected by the circumvention exemption ruling.

How Apple will react to this new ruling is unknown but there are many legal ways that Apple can insure that the iPhone remain closed to unapproved internal fiddling.

Originally published in the Swiss online newspaper,, reedited for WholeThinking.

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