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EFF: iPhone Jailbreaking is Good, Apple: No Way

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is trying to convince the U.S. Copyright office that Apple's stance against hacking the iPhone to allow unauthorized applications to run goes against the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. The organization is asking for a DMCA exception for iPhone owners, but Apple claimed that iPhone hacking, or jailbreaking, amounts to copyright infringement and doesn't warrant a DMCA exception.

The only way to add Apple-approved applications to the iPhone is through the company's online App Store, leaving users that want apps that aren't available at the store with a dilemma: Go without those applications, or jailbreak.

The EFF compared jailbreaking to car owners that like to tinker with their engines or buy replacement parts that don't come from the dealer. Since jailbreaking involves modifies the iPhone's operating system to allow non-approved applications to be installed, Apple said its software copyrights are being violated.

"Apple's copyright infringement claim starts with the observation that jailbroken iPhones depend on modified versions of Apple's bootloader and operating system software," the EFF said. "True enough -- we said as much in our technical white paper describing the jailbreak process. But the courts have long recognized that copying software while reverse engineering is a fair use when done for purposes of fostering interoperability with independently created software, a body of law that Apple conveniently fails to mention."

Should the Copyright Office agree with Apple, the company could use the ruling as ammunition if it decides to try shutting down groups that develop and release software that jailbreaks iPhones. The EFF, however, has a history of fighting for consumer rights, so don't expect the group to give up if the government sides with Apple.


3 comments from the community.

You can post your own below.

Tiger said:

I think the EFF"s comparison is a bit off. If you were tinkering with the mechanics of the iPhone, such as replacing the SIM card with a new one, or the charger/data cable, that is comparable with tinkering with the car’s engine.

But if you tinker with the software that runs a car’s computer, you’ve pretty much guaranteed that your warranty is void and at some point, it’s gonna be a brick.

I hope to see some negotiation here, don’t get me wrong. Stop paying the lawyers for court time. Hash it out, get over it, and move on to something else.


Bosco (Brad Hutchings) said:

The thing that makes the EFF insufferable turds is that they feel the need to take a practice that is basically not condoned but somewhat tolerated because it is hurting nobody and asking an authority for explicit permission to conduct that activity. So Apple has no choice but to lawyer up and oppose the practice.

Why expect the EFF to behave anything like 4th graders with a substitute teacher? You know, sub tells the students they can’t shoot spit wads, so they start flinging paper footballs. Except these 4th graders are grown up with advanced degrees and have a logo.


daemon said:

Because what Apple is doing is against both consumer interests and the law?

And if it isn’t against the law, just wait for Obama to make it so.


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