The Library of Congress' copyright office today approved an application submitted by San Francisco's Electronic Frontier Foundation
which will allow millions of iPhone owners to get out of jail -- free.
It is now legal for iPhoners to break electronic locks and download applications
that have not received official sanction from Apple -- a process known as "jailbreaking." Naturally, millions of users were already doing this on the down-low; online guides on how to most effectively jailbreak one's iPhone or iPod
are easier to stumble across on the Web than mortgage refinancing schemes.
Apple last year filed this 31-page brief with the Copyright Office claiming that jailbreaking an iPhone is both a violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and an act of copyright infringement.
The EFF successfully argued, however, that to restrict iPhone users to downloading only Apple-approved apps would be akin to restricting drivers of a certain make of automobile to only having their cars serviced by, say, Toyota- or Ford- approved mechanics. From today's ruling
"The fact that the person engaging in jailbreaking is doing so in order to use Apple's firmware on the device that it was designed to operate, which the jailbreaking user owns, and to use it for precisely the purpose for which it was designed (but for the fact that it has been modified to run applications not approved by Apple) ... is innocuous at worst and beneficial at best."
Moreover, Apple's objections stem not from copyright concerns but due "to its interests as a manufacturer and distributor of a device, the iPhone."
... "When one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system
on that phone interoperable with an independently created application
that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker
of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the
purpose of such interoperability are fair uses."
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