US government renews jailbreak exemption, adds iPad and other devices

Jailbreak iPhone 6 Plus iOS 8.4

The US Library of Congress on Tuesday issued a set of exemptions to the notorious circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The provision makes it illegal for users to circumvent restrictions put in place by manufacturers, but every three years, the Copyright Office has the ability to grant exemptions to products and practices.

This year’s exemptions are far-reaching, granting permission to tinker with everything from smart TVs to vehicles, but the part we’re most interested in has to do with jailbreaking. The US government not only renewed the ability to jailbreak smartphones, but it added tablets into the mix. So for all intents and purposes, it’s now legal to jailbreak your iPad.

In October 2012, the last time the Copyright Office ruled on the DMCA exemptions, the The Register of Copyrights said that he felt that the term “tablet” was too broad to rule on, so he didn’t include it. This time, however, The Register felt that the category of “all-purpose mobile computing devices” had been meaningfully defined by the EFF and other proponents.

Accordingly, based on the Register’s recommendation, the Librarian adopts the following exemption:

Computer programs that enable smartphones and portable all- purpose mobile computing devices to execute lawfully obtained software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the smartphone or device, or to permit removal of software from the smartphone or device. For purposes of this exemption, a “portable all-purpose mobile computing device” is a device that is primarily designed to run a wide variety of programs rather than for consumption of a particular type of media content, is equipped with an operating system primarily designed for mobile use, and is intended to be carried or worn by an individual.

If you want to learn more about the new DMCA exemptions, you can read the full document here.

Of course, today’s news couldn’t have come at a better time. Earlier this month, an unexpected jailbreak was released for all devices running iOS 9 (though it was subsequently killed by iOS 9.1). For more information on what jailbreaking is, check out our official Jailbreak page. Or, if you’re ready to jump in, you can find our step-by-step iOS 9 jailbreak tutorial here.