Jailbreaking: A Crime or Copyright Issue?

I recently read an article from blogger supremo John Paul Titlow entitled Could Jailbreaking Your iPhone Become a Crime Soon? I thought to myself, “Self this needs investigating”. To understand jailbreaking defined by Wikipedia, “iOS jailbreaking, or simply jailbreaking, is the process of removing the limitations imposed by Apple on devices running the iOS operating system through use of custom kernels. Such devices include the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and 2nd Gen Apple TV.

Jailbreaking allows users to gain root access to the operating system, allowing iOS users to download additional applications, extensions, and themes that are unavailable through the official Apple App Store. A jailbroken iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS can still use the App Store, iTunes, and other normal functions, such as making telephone calls. Jailbreaking is a form of privilege escalation, and the term has been applied to privilege escalation on other computer systems as well.”

In 2010, the U.S. Copyright Office declared that jailbreaking devices is not a violation of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). but it will still void your warranty with apple. What this means is that it has not legally being passed into law in the US, which means it can expire and the U.S. Copyright Office can and possibly will change it’s mind in the future. With this in mind, the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is asking the U.S. Copyright Office to renew the exemption so jailbreaking does not violate the DMCA. They are also asking to expand it to cover tablets, and for a new exemption to allow jailbreaking of video game consoles. If you’d like to put forward your comments regarding Jailbreaking to the U.S. Copyright Office, you can do so ‘here‘.

In the U.S. Apple stated that iPhone buyers are licensees of the technology, not owners and thereby bound by the company’s licensing agreement. In the European Union the distinction between whether a purchaser “buys” or “licenses” the software in an Apple iPhone is a lot less relevant. Dai Davis, partner and IT legal expert at law firm Brooke North said,  “Even if the software is supplied as a licence, EU law clearly provides strong rights to a buyer to require Apple to supply interoperability information.” This is provided by the EU Directive 2009/24/EC of 23 April 2009 on the legal protection of computer programs. “Merely changing a minimal number of lines of code does not necessarily mean that a breach of copyright has occurred,” said Davis. “In this case, altering 50 bytes of code out of more than eight billion bytes in an iPhone is most unlikely to be regarded as a breach of copyright,” he said.

And what of the future of jailbreaking? Will it cease to exist or merely slow to a when needed here we are pace? Even if Apple adds many features to stop jailbreaking the iPhone Dev Team and the Chronic Dev Team will still find exploits and most probably will jailbreak all up coming devices. It’s a cat & mouse game that won’t stop for at least the coming years. For all of us who are interested in the here and now, the download section of  iDownloadBlog has what this writer considers to be the ultimate resource for every iOS firmware available, as well as jailbreak tools, such as, RedSn0w, PwnageTool, Sn0wBreeze, etc. You can go straight to their download page from ‘here‘. And your thoughts? What do you believe the future is for Jailbreaking? Do you believe it is still worth jailbreaking your idevices? Or has Apple introduced enough apps and features to finally put Jailbreaking to bed. Comments welcome.

Sources for this article are as follows -> RWW : [Read Write Web]EFF : [Electronic Frontier Foundation]iDownloadBlogMaypaloComputerWeekly.ComWikipediaU.S. Copyright OfficeOfficial Journal of the European Communities.