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Jailbreaking iPhone Is Now Legal In The USA Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has just announced that they have won two critical exceptions to the DMCA, which makes it legal for users to jailbreak and unlock their iPhone.

For the 2009 rulemaking, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) had filed an exemption request with the U.S. Copyright Office to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) related to jailbreaking iPhone ... more

iPhone jailbreaking (and all cell phone unlocking) made legal

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Owners of iPhones and other smartphones are one step closer towards taking complete control of their gadgets, thanks to a new government ruling Monday on the practice of "jailbreaking."

This weekend has seen a flurry of activity about digital rights, but the biggest news dropped Monday morning, when the FCC announced that it had made the controversial practice of “jailbreaking” your iPhone — or any other cell phone — legal.

Jailbreaking — the practice of unlocking a phone (and particularly an iPhone) so it can be used on another network and/or run other applications than those approved by Apple — has technically been illegal for years. Most jailbroken phones are used on the U.S. T-Mobile network or on overseas carriers, or are used to run applications that Apple refuses to sell, such as Safari ad-blocking apps, alternate keyboard layouts, or programs that change the interface to the iPhone's SMS system and the way its icons are laid out.

While technically illegal, no one has been sued or prosecuted for the practice. (Apple does seriously frown on the practice, and jailbreaking your phone will still void your warranty.) It’s estimated that more than a million iPhone owners have jailbroken their handsets.

Apple fought hard against the legalization, arguing that jailbreaking was a form of copyright violation. The FCC disagreed, saying that jailbreaking merely enhanced the inter-operability of the phone, and was thus legitimate under fair-use rules.

The upshot is that now anyone can jailbreak or otherwise unlock any cell phone without fear of legal penalties, whether you want to install unsupported applications or switch to another cellular carrier. Cell phone companies are of course still free to make it difficult for you to do this — and your warranty will probably still be voided if you do — but at least you won’t be fined or imprisoned if you jailbreak a handset.

In addition to the jailbreaking exemption, the FCC announced a few oth er rules that have less sweeping applicability but are still significant:

• Professors, students and documentary filmmakers are now allowed, for “noncommercial” purposes, to break the copy protection measures on DVDs to be used in classroom or other not-for-profit environments. This doesn’t quite go so far as to grant you and me the right to copy a DVD so we can watch it in two rooms of the house, but it’s now only one step away.

• As was the topic in the GE ruling I wrote about, the FCC allows computer owners to bypass dongles (hardware devices used in conjunction with software to guarantee the correct owner is behind the keyboard) if they are no longer in operation and can’t be replaced. Dongles are rarities in consumer technology products now, but industrial users are probably thrilled about this, as many go missing and are now impossible to obtain.

• Finally, people are now free to circumvent protection measures on video games — but, strangely, only to investigate and correct security flaws in those games. (Another oddity: Other computer software is not part of this ruling, just video games.)

— Christopher Null is a technology writer for Yahoo! News

asked Jul 26 '10 at 15:41

r0bErT4u's gravatar image


edited Jul 27 '10 at 06:39

It's debatable whether or not jailbreaking being made or proven legal is a victory, as it's a loss for many application developers, music producers and those with WEP encrypted wireless access points (which many jailbroken device owners exploit with malicious code).

(Jul 26 '10 at 17:30) Maeurd Maeurd's gravatar image

No thats actually false. Nobody has been completely successful in doing it. Don't say something unless you have evidence.

(Jul 26 '10 at 18:06) AppleHack23 AppleHack23's gravatar image

Actually, it's a victory for application developers & iDevice owners. Developers of Applications that are rejected by Apple, Inc. now have a bigger customer base to sell to via Cydia & Rock. Young developer that had his app pulled from the app store, should go sell his apps on Cydia & Rock.

(Jul 26 '10 at 18:46) r0bErT4u r0bErT4u's gravatar image

jail breaking iphone has always been legal...................apple doesnt like it..buts its always been legal

answered Jul 26 '10 at 15:42

SJP's gravatar image


Glad to see this has finally been made official. I was getting seriously tired of all the mixed messages on the subject.

answered Jul 26 '10 at 15:49

Leapo's gravatar image


Nothing has changed, Apple's efforts wont either, just like Nintendo going after the Wii homebrewers. It'll always be a cat and mouse game, they'll continue to update their products to block this activity from happening.

As for unlocking from a carrier, yes it is legal and included in this.

answered Jul 26 '10 at 15:53

Granit's gravatar image


edited Jul 26 '10 at 15:54

GREAT! iPhone 4 will be able to use T-Mobile's FAST HSPA+ Network!!

(Jul 26 '10 at 17:21) r0bErT4u r0bErT4u's gravatar image

Still a rumor, though "apparently" a T-Mobile employee leaked out that Apple and T-Mobile are in plans to release the iPhone this Fall.

(Jul 26 '10 at 17:24) Granit Granit's gravatar image

What you have to remember is: although jailbreaking may be legal in certain regions, most of tasks that many owners of jailbroken devices carry out are still illegal (eg. pirating apps, running malicious code, hacking secure networks), even if the act of jailbreaking itself is legal.

answered Jul 26 '10 at 17:28

Maeurd's gravatar image


Thanks for your input. I don't condone those unethical, harmful & malicious activities.

I'll have to disagree that most tasks that many owners of jailbroken devices carry out are still illegal.

That's like saying most tasks of many gun owners is robbing, harming & killing people.

(Jul 26 '10 at 17:50) r0bErT4u r0bErT4u's gravatar image

When I say "most of tasks that many owners of jailbroken devices carry out are still illegal", I'm saying this based on the people I've met who own jailbroken iDevices. Also, I didn't say most of the owners of jailbroken devices, I just said many, which I think is a fair assumption based on the fact that there is an increasing amount of jailbroken iDevice owners that use their device to carry out illegal tasks.

(Jul 26 '10 at 17:56) Maeurd Maeurd's gravatar image

Based on your statement, the many owners of jailbroken iDevices that you've met are still doing illegal activities. You're small sample of the population only applies to your area, and doesn't represent the acivities of the whole.

(Jul 26 '10 at 18:13) r0bErT4u r0bErT4u's gravatar image

You can run whatever malicious code you want on YOUR own device, and nobody makes malicious code for the iPhone anyway. Also, nobody pirates apps anymore, since the app cracking application no longer works, and most of the apps on there are outdated and don't run anymore, and it takes forever to download because its a horrible system of distribution. And nobody has successfully hacked a Wi-Fi network with an iPhone.

(Jul 26 '10 at 18:14) AppleHack23 AppleHack23's gravatar image

answered Jul 27 '10 at 16:33

r0bErT4u's gravatar image


edited Jul 28 '10 at 02:25

Even though it has always been legal it should continue to remain legal, personally I leave my Iphone as is, I believe we should have the option.

answered Jul 27 '10 at 20:01

Xiro's gravatar image


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Asked: Jul 26 '10 at 15:41

Seen: 2,334 times

Last updated: Jul 28 '10 at 02:25