Jailbreaking your iPhone

When you buy an  iPhone, you could expect being able to do whatever you want with it. You may want to jailbreak it to install applications that are not allowed in the App Store. You may also want to unlock it so it is not restricted to only one carrier.

Well, legally you can’t do all this because of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which is a law intended to protect digital locks. This law was intended to protect copyrighted music, DVDs, and DRM entertainment products.

When congress passed this law, they were not thinking that it would also legally allow hardware manufacturers like Apple to have a total control over what you can and cannot do with your iPhone. The DMCA clearly wasn’t created to prevent you from jailbreaking your iPhone, but it “accidentally” did when Apple started to flag jailbreaking as a violation of this law.

A little over a year ago, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit digital rights advocacy organization, asked regulators to add jailbreaking to a list of explicit exemptions to the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. The US Copyright Office is now supposed to rule any day on whether jailbreaking should be exempted from the DMCA or not.

This is big news because if the exemption was to be approved, Apple would probably lose the huge grip it has on the App Store and what’s allowed or not in the Store.

Apple has always argued that it wanted a clean, safe, porn-free App Store. Bottom line is they want to control every aspect of the Store and that is just not right. It should be the users’ decision, not Apple’s. Only me can decide what’s best for me. Only me can decide if I want to take the risk of installing malicious software on my iPhone.

Apple has never sued jailbreakers or even the Dev Team because they know it would be at the very edge of legality. If the US Copyright Office decides to exempt jailbreaking from the DMCA, it will be a big victory for iPhone (and other smartphones) users and digital rights in general.

Let’s cross our fingers! In the meantime, you can watch this video to learn more about the DMCA exemption for jailbreaking iPhones.

What do you think about that? Do you think jailbreaking should be made legal?

  • I think that deep inside Steve Jobs know that jailbreak sells a lot of iStuff!
    It’s just a way so that Apple can’t be sued for what happens outside their walled garden.

  • Alex

    HELL YEAH! If the US Copyright Office decides that jailbreaking should be exempted from the DMCA, I’ll be taking my iPhone 3GS installed with all my third party apps such as MyWI and many more and showing it off at the Apple Store…..just to piss them off!…LOL….I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed!

  • Juan

    “Apple has always argued that it wanted a clean, safe, porn-free App Store.”…

    Steve and his “freedom from porn” campaign is a lost cause. For one, via Safari or any other browser available in the AppStore… porn freely available. Next, FaceTime…. I’ve already stated this will change phone sex but the point is… Facetime can be used for pornography.

    I’m still not sure which clause Steve-O thinks applies to modifying his software.

  • “Apple would probably lose the huge grip it has on the App Store and what’s allowed or not in the Store.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. An exemption on the DMCA will make not difference whatsoever to Apple and the App Store. It will not prevent iPhone and iTunes updates from breaking jailbroken and/or unlocked phones.

    The only effect will be that some of the 0.0000001% of iPhone users who were not jailbreaking their phones BECAUSE OF the DMCA will now join the ranks of the jailbroken. Of the estimated 3 people in the US for whom the DMCA was a concern, I’ll venture to guess that 1 of them will now jailbreak, while the other two will find another reason to remain on the fence.

    “Bottom line is they want to control every aspect of the Store and that is just not right. ”

    I also couldn’t disagree more here. It’s their platform. It’s their store. It’s their right. We don’t need to like it, but it is their right. It is also their responsibility to their business partners, i.e. the carriers, to reduce risks to their networks. It’s probably written into their contracts with Apple. Beyond that, Apple sells a user experience. They get to decide what that user experience is, and they get to set the rules about what is permissible in the App Store to conform with that UE. It’s why consumers buy iPhones in droves when they had not interest whatsoever in Windows Mobile, or Palm, or RIM phones.

    Mind you, I appreciate the EFF in general, and I will welcome this exemption. My phone is jailbroken and I’m waiting impatiently for an unlock for my baseband. I just think this article has a skewed perspective.

  • one word…..yes!!!

  • Burge

    My phone I’ll do what I won’t with it. Apple might of made it but I payed for it. So I’ll jailbreak what ever the out come, but there is now way apple will win this, long live the dev team ,geohot and comex

  • brent

    I couldn’t agree more with Ryan Walker. If a company shouldn’t decide what to sell in their own store, who in the world should?

    “Bottom line is they want to control every aspect of the Store and that is just not right. ”


    If I own a doughnut shop, should I not be allowed to decide what kind of doughnuts I sell.

    Are you suggesting that an entity such as the federal government should tell Apple what they can or can’t sell in their store? That’s a dangerous path…

    That said, I think this is a separate issue from the Jailbreak thing. I don’t agree with the illegality of jailbreaking. If I want to alter MY hardware and risk messing it up, who is apple or anyone to forbid me from doing that?

    How about if Apple does what they want with THEIR App Store, and I do what I want with MY iPhone? Makes sense to me.

  • @Ryan @ Brent

    Did you guys watch the video I linked to in the article? The guy in there makes a very good point.

    He compares the iPhone to a car. Can you imagine if you bought a car and the manufacturer told you that you could ONLY listen to a pre-selected set of radio stations in your car. Worse, the manufacturer tells you you can only get gas from pre-approved gas stations. If I follow your point, the car is the manufacturer’s and he’s free to do what he wants with it. Wrong!

    Sure Apple can do whatever they want with their store. Although I don’t approve, I understand that. Where Apple is evil is that it doesn’t give you the freedom to access other stores (ie Cydia). Just like you want the freedom to get gas from ANY gas station, you should be able to download apps from ANY store.



  • Andy

    I think a better way of putting it, Sebastien, is that the car (in your analogy) carries a retail price of $XXX.

    However, the gas stations are willing to offset your cost of car ownership down to $YYY by working out an arrangement with the manufacturer that the gas tank only accepts gas from their stations. They have paid down the cost of your ownership because they now have you as a customer to sell gas to, can upsell other things to you, and have a guaranteed source of income for 24 mos (or at the very least, a hefty ETF).

    So now, the car manufacturer has a responsibility to protect the gas station’s investment. They can’t go around selling after-market gas tank adapters that let you buy gas from other people, or allowing such adapters to openly exist in their presence if they have the ability to combat it. Because guess what? There wouldn’t have been 600K preorders on iphones if everyone had to pony up $699 a pop. Apple has a very vested interest in keeping their partner (AT&T) happy. Market penetration has it’s costs.

    Of course, this only applies to subsidized purchases. For those very small % who pay full retail…none of this applies.

    But I think Ryan is largely right. The store is theirs to sell what they want, and how they want. My issue comes with the inability to install other software outside of that arrangement (out of the box). But I don’t think the answer is “The app store should take everything and distribute everything.” Why should apple incur the cost of distribution, storage, administration, etc?

    Do I jailbreak? Yep…absolutely. And I will continue to do so until I get native file access and the ability to use my devices the way I see fit (none of which has anything to do with unlocking). But I understand why Apple needs to institute some of the protections they’ve put in place.

  • Benjohn

    I very much hope this will go through: any reduction to that act seems good. However, you’re totally wrong that it will impact the store at all – a change will in no way compell Apple to start putting any old app in the store. Only thing that might do that is some kind of anti-competition ruling, which if the store keeps growing might happen one day…

    Also, I doubt it’ll make a huge difference if jail breaking becomes legal, I don’t imagine a lot more people will choose that option.

  • brent

    You’re right, Andy. And Sebastian, I watched that video and I agree with everything he says. It’s important to make a distinction between the store itself and the right to install 3rd party apps on an iPhone. Apple can and SHOULD be able to do whatever they want with their store. I’m not sure why you don’t approve of this unless you are against capitalism and a free market economy. (and that’s fine if that’s how you feel) BUT I don’t think they should be able to tell us what we can/can’t do with our iPhone. They are 2 separate things.

  • Sg

    Let’s face it jailbreakigbis awsome and we all love it, making it legal Will be awsome as well, but where you said “Apple has always argued that it wanted a clean, safe, porn-free App Store. Bottom line is they want to control every aspect of the Store and that is just not right. It should be the users’ decision, not Apple’s. Only me can decide what’s best for me. Only me can decide if I want to take the risk of installing malicious software on my iPhone” I find it stupid of you to mention that you should have the decision to insall malicious software bc there are lots of people out there that don’t know what they are doing and by having the ability to install anything is uncontrolling and causing lots of software and hardware damage to iPhones, I think what apple is doig right now controlling what’s on their app store and what they allow users to access I’d perfectly normal, it’s more organized and helps more people use their phones not abuse and for us who know what we are doig, it’s ok to jailbreak, but those that don’t should not be allowed and also I like the app store without porn and advertisements all over it, do you want to be beating ur meat while watching or doing things on your iPhone? Or ur kids performing such acts? In my opinion apple should be allowed to and cont to controll every aspect of the app store, that’s why they have number #1 service in Manu categories, why you complaining anyway you have cydia and installous to get what you can’t in the app store, don’t know why people are always running after facts and rules that are placed there to protect the users,

  • Sg

    Well you know not everyone thinks of porn as the first impression of face time….. Is that what you all do with laptop webcams as well? Mayr they shouldn’t be there either? And what about tv? Porn is on certain channels so we should have TVs in our homes bc while were surfing through the channels it might come across porn, Internet? Shouldn’t be on there bc you might see a porn advertisemnt and ur vergin eyes might wonder and lead you do doin something inappropriate, you guys seriously complain about the randomest nonsense, get over it, I’m sure one of you are gonna use facetime to talk to your mom more than having sex over it with your girlfriends

  • I wasn’t aware that jailbreaking was implicitly illegal now. I was under the impression that it is a grey area and that is why the Dev Team are so careful not to distribute Apple code in their tools. It’s up to us to find Bootloaders and such. The EFF is an amazing organization- I think drawing attention to DMCA is a good thing and Apple will realize their interpretation is wrong.

  • Ken

    Apple can allow or refuse whatever app they choose, no matter what the dmca says. If you want apps that are not at the app store, then go to Curia or rock store. Jailbreaking an iPhone is not not and never will be illegal. Once you pay for your phone it’s yours to do as you please. Unlocking it while under contract with carrier to use a different carrier is illegal.

  • Ken

    Cydia! I hate the autocorrection on the iPhone. They need to change it.

  • Nick

    @ken, you can turn that off in your “Keyboard” settings, unless you just want it improved. I like the old one, this new one is fail.

    Anyways, what does Steve thing they’re going to do with the like, being able to see people when you call? You know how many 15-18 year old girls have iPhones at my school, that are upgrading to the iPhone 4? I’m pretty sure some of them are whores, probably going to use that like a webcam. Steve, if you really cared about porn, there would be no iPhone. Seriously, you can draw a dick with your Notes, send someone a picture of your dick, et cetera. Don’t act like if you care if you don’t. And sex apps in the iTunes store? I seriously don’t think some people want their kid to see the vibrator apps and shit either.