DMCA Gives the Okay to Jailbreak Your Smartphone (But Not Your Tablet)


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was established to control access to copyrighted works by preventing individuals from circumventing digital rights management schemes; though the Librarian of Congress has the power to grand exemptions. After some concern expressed earlier this year, this power was exercised this week with the addition of a new batch of exemptions, including an extension of the allowance for jailbreaking smartphones (but not tablets). There is a catch (of course): be sure to buy your smartphone before January 2013.

While the exemption may appear somewhat vague and arbitrary, it allows “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets 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 telephone handset.” In short, feel free to jailbreak your “telephone handsets.”

The January 2013 date comes from a provision set forth in the rule that states the smartphone being unlocked must “originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption.” Phones acquired after this date can only be unlocked with the carrier’s permission.

So why does this exemption not apply to tablets as well? The Librarian felt that there isn’t an “appropriate definition for the ‘tablet’ category of devices” which is required to extend the rule to those devices.

Does ‘keeping it legal’ make you more apt to jailbreak your smartphone, or your iPhone in this case?

[via ars technica]


  • ThtGut

    Still voids the warranty. But I will be doing it anyway, I need my SBSettings toggle.

    I believe that apple closed the security hole that allowed you to install apps from installous. I am asked for a password on apps I downloaded with my other iTunes account. This leads me to believe that installous apps will ask for a password prior to launching, also means I cannot put apps I purchased on other people’s iOS6 devices.

  • Farids

    I don’t jailbreak my phone for the purpose of unlocking as indicated in the document. I will gladly pay my carrier the $50 fee to unlock my phone, after I finish paying for it, if I need to unlock it. I don’t install illegal software either. My reason for unlock is the fact I own the phone and like to customize it in ways Apple didn’t design. Themes, widgets, custom icons, the number of icons in folders and SpringBoard, SBSettings and other little tweaks. iOS 6 is great and includes a lot of the previous jailbreak tools and settings I used in 5.1.1., so, I’m happy with the OS. Now if I could only give it the look I like more(Boss Theme), the SB Weather widget, and the settings on demand, it would be perfect.

  • HelloWorld

    I have an iPhone 4 and I’m on my third one. All 3 have/had been jailbroken. If you know how to easily reverse the jailbreak, then it doesn’t “void any warranty”.

  • CZ

    So we’re all aware that The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a US law right? It’s doesn’t affect Canadians. I mean this news sucks for US iPhone and iPad users…but it has no standing as of yet here.