Jailbreaking iPhone Is Now Legal In The US

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)

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.

At that time, Apple had told the U.S. Copyright Office that it believed jailbreaking an iPhone is a violation of the DMCA and infringes on its copyright. Apple also informed the Copyright Office that the exception request by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was not acceptable as the very act of jailbreaking the iPhone results in copyright infringement.

Apple also cautions users against jailbreaking their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

EFF's argument was that jailbreaking iPhone is protected under fair-use doctrines, and that the Copyright Office should grant an exemption because "the culture of tinkering (or hacking, if you prefer) is an important part of our innovation economy."

The U.S Copyright Office agree with EFF’s views and has exempted jailbreaking and unlocking iPhone from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Here are the excerpts from EFF’s press statement that is relevant to iPhone users:

The exemptions were granted as part of a statutorily proscribed rulemaking process, conducted every three years to mitigate the danger the DMCA poses to legitimate, non-infringing uses of copyrighted materials.

The first of EFF's three successful requests clarifies the legality of cell phone "jailbreaking" — software modifications that liberate iPhones and other handsets to run applications from sources other than those approved by the phone maker.

In its reasoning in favor of EFF's jailbreaking exemption, the Copyright Office rejected Apple's claim that copyright law prevents people from installing unapproved programs on iPhones: "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."

"Copyright law has long held that making programs interoperable is fair use," confirmed Corynne McSherry, EFF's Senior Staff Attorney. "It's gratifying that the Copyright Office acknowledges this right and agrees that the anticircumvention laws should not interfere with interoperability."

On EFF's request, the Librarian of Congress renewed a 2006 rule exempting cell phone unlocking so handsets can be used with other telecommunications carriers. Cell phone unlockers have been successfully sued under the DMCA, even though there is no copyright infringement involved in the unlocking. Digital locks on cell phones make it harder to resell, reuse, or recycle the handset, prompting EFF to ask for renewal of this rule on behalf of our clients, The Wireless Alliance, ReCellular and Flipswap. However, the 2009 rule has been modified so that it only applies to used mobile phones, not new ones.

This doesn’t change things much for iPhone users as the cat and mouse game between Apple and the iPhone hacking community will continue but from a legal point of view they can now jailbreak their iPhone without fear of copyright infringement penalties. You can checkout the latest update on jailbreak iPhone from the iPhone Dev Team.

In case of unlocking iPhone, carriers can still prevent unlocking in many circumstances and can pursue cases against individuals by citing breach of contract under the carriers' Terms of Service.

Apple has always maintained that unauthorized modification of the iOS is a violation of the iPhone end-user license agreement and because of this, Apple can deny service for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch that has installed any unauthorized software. It will interesting to see if Apple will be able to deny service under the new federal policies.

We would love to hear your thoughts on this ground breaking ruling by the US Copyright Office so please drop us a line in the comments.

Thanks everyone for the tip!

[via EFF]

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    yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! is my thoughts lol

  • impatient4jb

    Yay, This is one step closer for Apple giving us a jailbreak themselves. LOL not

  • Weidy

    Free at last

  • micpen

    good stuff

  • Rob

    The iPhones increasing popularity over the years is no doubt relatated to the underground community opening this brilliant platform to better applications and uses. Although Apple would never publicly admit it, they love his community for driving their sales upwards. I've always wondered if they've unofficially been behind the jailbreaks.

  • Asif Khan

    ohh that nice now when 4.0.1 3gs will jailbroke and unlock i m waiting for tool and ever single day i check this website but all time i will disappointed so plz if some one have information about the releasing date of jailbroking tool then tell me………..

  • Enok

    This doesn't mean anything. Still going to have to fight Apple to get a satisfactory phone and jailbreak it.

  • Dino

    Guys relax apple is not stupid
    They only need to change
    Their marketing strategy by
    Flooding iPhone with new
    Features in quick way that
    Is all which is good for us

  • Leeky

    It shouldn't have taken this long to have a law on the books that says you can do whatever you want with something you have paid for. It is yours and you the owner should be able to do whatever you want with your property.

    • Anonemuss

      So I bought a Gun and shot you with it .. it’s mine I can do what I want with it with out legal ramifications right?

  • Jeff

    Awesome now just need that jailbreak for the iPhone 4 now

  • Jk


  • LoL

  • iOS4

    I will still jailbreak even if it was illegal. Same way i can blend my iphone if i choose too. I bought it with my own cash and i can do whatever the hell i want with it as long as it doesn't harm anyone.

  • If Apple gave us everything we wanted for the phone, we wouldn't have to jailbreak it in the first place.

  • WaR

    its always been legal to Jailbreak a iPhone

  • Apples rigid ways needs to come into the 21st century like their technology. I only wish they had a TRUE contender to FORCE them out of their dictatorship! I love my Iphone but Jobs needs to get on his job and quit taking us for granted!

  • Sahid

    Free at last!… Thank God all mighty, we are free at last!

  • tell that to the people who want Adobe Flash on "their" iPhone and Steve Jobs and his fanboy followers who say otherwise.

  • This is a really amazing thing that apple did

  • Uluahunter

    If Apple gave us everything we wanted on the iphone, it would actually have to make them "work" to provide new ideas and products, and it would take that much longer for those products to hit the streets. By holding back on requests/demands for changes to their current OS's or platforms, they set themselves up for record breaking launches each time they serve up a "new" product. They should just hire the hackers since that's where all the good ideas are originating from, this way everyone wins. You can't stop technological advancement, but companies will always do their best to control it's forward movement. All great marketed companies make their bread and butter off of the sales of "new and innovative" products. But "new and innovative" isn't always the best that the companies have to offer in their arsenal, they always have to save some for the future.

  • Ike

    Dear Apple & Jobby boy,

    Bend over and get cored.

  • Steven Jobs

    It's fine. I will have my engineers make it un-jailbreakable. We are getting there.

  • theres always somebody better than them!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mac

    Amen to dat. And now its funny cuz anyone can go up to Steve and say: "look man i got a jailbroken iphone!! Dats right b@#!?!!" nd just walk off and s@#t. Lol lol nd steve cant do nutin about it.

  • wolverinemarky

    this isnt too shocking i figured apple would lose this one

  • Tap

    Do you wonder if steve has a jail broken iPhone. . . .

  • ZeppelinLed

    Lose what? Like they really care. You'll still have to wait for jailbreaks, they won't make it any easier. As we can see, it's getting harder to get a jailbreak on each new firmware 🙁

  • So who cares how loong it takes? As loong as the Jailbreak will still be released one day, I will always wait patiently.

    Long ago, people including Steve Jobs were always criticizing Microsoft for monopolizing the market with their products. But today it's Apple that is doing just that.

    Good news for the free world!!! Jailbreak has always like one the commenters said been lawful. You can't tell me not to use my device the way I choose to.

    It is right to say Apple has always been in support of the Hacks community to drive their innovation forward. They've always responded to the positivity of this community and at the end something comes out it. Who benefit from it? We… people! We are the makers and breakers of this new age. We will always win gentle men and ladies!!!

  • This is great news but doesn't really help that much. Even though it is not illegal anymore it doesn't mean it is approved. Apple doesn't have to support unlocked iPhones if they don't want to. It would be even better is Apple supported it.
    BTW: Why Jailbreak? and some jailbreak solutions for iPad:

  • Fingers21

    Without jailbreaking, apple would never improve the iPhone! We jailbroke, added third party multitasking, apple saw this and added it officially, we jailbroke, added custom wallpaper, apple saw this and added it officially. This is a cat and mouse game that I'm sure Steve jobs enjoys as much as us! It betters his company!

  • Kilgoretrout

    Apple will now market and sell jailbreak software on their app store…they could make lots of money off this too!

  • anshul

    when gonna be jailbreak for ios 4 will be released ???????????

  • Tolga

    Why don't you start learning how to do it yourself…?

  • philit

    Apple is only doing this in the usa they sell unlock iphones every where but not in the us

  • anshul

    1st u start then i will follow u >talk dat much which can be possible

  • Snody

    Does this mean the Dev Teams will be able to charge for the jailbreaks?

  • new this would happen sooner or later XD and to snody, i dont think people would charge for it since the only reason people jailbreak is for Cooler Free products, that would take the whole reason away XD

  • It feels great to be able to have other options of installing apps on your iPhone, whether or not any company approves of the app or not.

  • ILNoob

    As much as I agree with that statement, you do not own the software built into the device. THAT is what Apple has been fighting over since people first begun jailbreaking these things.

    And, for the record, you still can't do anything you want – downloading applications that cost money in the app store for free can still get you into hot water, if you get busted

  • ILNoob

    I'm sure it's not jailbroken, he probably had a firmware custom designed for him.

  • ILNoob