Copyright Office decision supports cell phone jailbreaking, encourages educators and remixers

Regardless of how one feels about the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) as a whole, it’s clear that the Copyright Office's recent rulemaking process has appropriately further limited the DMCA's anti-circumvention provision. In February 2009, New Media Rights submitted comments in support of these changes that have now been enacted.

The Office's ruling attempted to clarify the DMCA's prohibition on “circumventing” digital rights management (DRM) and “other technical protection measures” -- a prohibition that, up until now, has given Apple the theoretical right to intimidate iPhone users with “jailbroken” phones with legal action. The Office ruled that this jailbreaking does not constitute violation of the DMCA. Although Apple has never prosecuted any iPhone jailbreaker under the DMCA, Apple did strongly object to any exemption to the anti-circumvention rule. This has led many general interest news sources to label these recent exemptions as a victory specific to iPhone jailbreakers, but the benefits of this particular exception to the DMCA anti-circumvention prohibitions reach a broader class of cell phone users.

In addition to what these new exemptions mean to iPhone and cell phone users generally,  there are a variety of other just-as-important exceptions made that affect educators, video remix artists, video game modders, and the sight-impaired in more practical ways.

Although these exemptions do eliminate the possibility that Apple could prosecute jailbreakers under Copyright law, it does not change the fact that Apple may still disable jailbroken phones with software upgrades.

Owners of jailbroken phones also still run the risk of voiding their warranties. Apple may still have legal recourse against would-be jailbreakers: “The contract between the company and the user forbids jailbreaking. Violating that provision of the contract...would still constitute a breach of contract the company could enforce in court.”

To read the full rulemaking order:

Or to learn more information about the exemptions contact us or visit these links:’t-stop-jailbreaking-?source=NWWNLE_nlt_daily_pm_2010-07-26

Photo Credit: Jail by Gìpics

Photo Credit: Jailbreak Aftermath by Thanushyon

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