iPhone Jailbreaking, EFF, and DMCA

Author: BigBoss  //  Category: Development, Jailbreak

As you read this, keep in mind that I am not a lawyer and do not give legal advice.

There has been a lot of news surrounding the legality of iPhone jailbreaking. It started when the EFF announced that it plans to add iPhone jailbreaking as a DMCA exception. (http://www.eff.org/action/free-your-phone). After this, Apple made an announcement that they consider jailbreaking to be a copyright infringement (http://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/02/apple-says-jailbreaking-illegal). So what’s really going on?

The DMCA has a set of exemptions that are reviewed every three years. This year is the year where these exemptions are reviewed and also when new exemptions are added. The EFF is pushing to have jailbreaking added to the exemption list. By adding this, it basically says “jailbreaking your iPhone is legal”. Remember, not having it in there does not say that jailbreaking is illegal. It simply doesn’t say. For example, there is no US Law that says “clothes shopping is legal”. But there is no reason to think it is not legal either. The EFF is pushing to add an exemption so that jailbreaking is actually called out as legal.

The original exemption requests can be found here:

A month after the exemption requests were made, the responses were due. These can be found here:


There are responses from a number of people for 5A from a number of end users and small businesses the obvious players: EFF and Apple. A few people who are definitely interested in this problem for other reasons (VOIP): Virgin Mobile and Skype. Mozilla also chimed in with a rather short document.

Skylar wrote an interesting article on this here: http://www.ipodtouchfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=147164

And the NYTimes has an interesting article on it here: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/0…our-iphone/?em

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