Library of Congress: jailbreaking is ‘fair use’

The U.S. Library of Congress’ Copyright Office has announced a decision under which jailbreaking mobile devices, most prominently the iPhone, has been deemed legal and within the user’s fair use rights. The ruling (PDF Link) states, “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.” Apple has in the past taken a hard stance against jailbreaking, claiming that the practice was illegal—in that it constituted copyright infringement and a DMCA violation—and that it could enable “potentially catastrophic” network attacks.

In addition to addressing the issue of jailbreaking, the ruling also makes note of unauthorized unlocking of mobile phones. While the ruling itself doesn’t extend so far as to ensure “that customers have the freedom to switch wireless communications service providers,” it does state that “unlocking a mobile phone to be used on another wireless network does not ordinarily constitute copyright infringement and that Section 1201(a)(1), a statute intended to protect copyright interests, should not be used to prevent mobile phone owners from engaging in such noninfringing activity.” [via Mac Rumors]

Latest News