EFF working to keep iPhone, iPad 'jailbreaking' legal in US

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014


An exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that has made iPhone "jailbreaking" legal is set to expire, and a digital rights advocacy group hopes the U.S. government will renew and expand that exemption.



The Electronic Frontier Foundation this week reached out to members of the public, asking them to help protect the act of jailbreaking, in which users can hack their iPhone or iPad to run unauthorized code. Up until now, jailbreaking has been legal through exemptions in the DMCA, but that exemption is set to expire this year.



"The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement, but it's been misused to threaten tinkerers and users who just want to make their devices more secure and more functional," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann. "The U.S. Copyright Office should hear from concerned Americans who want to run software of their choice on the gadgets of their choice."



The EFF helped to ensure that jailbreaking was granted an exemption in the DMCA in 2010, but this year the group wants to expand it to specifically cover tablets and videogame systems through its "Jailbreaking is Not a Crime" campaign at jailbreakingisnotacrime.org.



The term jailbreaking usually refers to hacking Apple's iOS devices in order to run software not approved by Apple. But the EFF's campaign uses jailbreaking as a blanket term for hacking all devices, regardless of platform.



Every few years, the Library of Congress' Copyright Office authorizes exemptions to ensure existing law does not prevent non-infringing use of copyrighted material. Two years ago, the office officially ruled that jailbreaking is an acceptable practice, though it still voids Apple's product warranties.











Through jailbreaking, hackers have created their own custom applications which are available from an alternative storefront known as Cydia, similar to Apple's official App Store for iOS. There are many free and paid applications available on Cydia that allow users to install custom tweaks, user interface themes and various pieces of software that does not comply with Apple's iOS developer agreement.



While jailbreaking itself is not illegal, the process can be used to pirate software from the App Store, which is against the law. Concern over piracy is one of the main reasons Apple has fought the practice of jailbreaking.



To keep jailbreaking legal, the EFF has asked that supporters sign a letter written by author and hacker Andrew "bunnie" Huang, an MIT graduate who wrote the 2003 book "Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering." Huang's letter advocates for expanded jailbreaking exemptions to protect "security researchers and other tinkerers and innovators."

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Comments

  • prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ... While jailbreaking itself is not illegal, the process can be used to pirate software from the App Store, which is against the law. ...



    Just to be picky and because it's constantly being misrepresented, Jailbreaking is not "legal."



    The wording is that it's illegal is the purpose you jailbreak for is itself illegal, so in the example above. It's not that you are using a "legal process" to do an illegal thing (if you are pirating apps), it's that the act of jail breaking itself becomes illegal if you use it to pirate apps. It's a small but important difference. It's not blankly legal to jailbreak your device, it depends upon your intention.



    Jailbreaking is also illegal if it's used to port Siri to a device that Apple doesn't want you to use Siri on for example. Jailbreaking is illegal if you want to use it to install an app that itself does an illegal thing like tracking apps, various hacks etc.



    When tech sites state that "jail breaking is legal" and then in one of their articles direct someone to a jail breaking site, they are actually breaking the law if said site does any of these things (or similar) or promotes any one of these things (or similar things).



    Since many of these sites contain apps that would be technically illegal or links to sites that do illegal things, it would really be best if you guys stopped posting articles with such links to Cydia etc., and stop passing around the false idea that jailbreaking is 100% legal all the time. Since the majority of jail breakers would be using such apps or doing such things ... jailbreaking *is* actually still a crime in most cases.
  • galbigalbi Posts: 968member
    Apple fans should be against "jailbreaking".



    It hurts Apple's bottom line.



    Restricting the users freedom is the way to go.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Just to be picky and because it's constantly being misrepresented, Jailbreaking is not "legal."



    The wording is that it's illegal is the purpose you jailbreak for is itself illegal, so in the example above. It's not that you are using a "legal process" to do an illegal thing (if you are pirating apps), it's that the act of jail breaking itself becomes illegal if you use it to pirate apps. It's a small but important difference. It's not blankly legal to jailbreak your device, it depends upon your intention.



    Jailbreaking is also illegal if it's used to port Siri to a device that Apple doesn't want you to use Siri on for example. Jailbreaking is illegal if you want to use it to install an app that itself does an illegal thing like tracking apps, various hacks etc.



    When tech sites state that "jail breaking is legal" and then in one of their articles direct someone to a jail breaking site, they are actually breaking the law if said site does any of these things (or similar) or promotes any one of these things (or similar things).



    Since many of these sites contain apps that would be technically illegal or links to sites that do illegal things, it would really be best if you guys stopped posting articles with such links to Cydia etc., and stop passing around the false idea that jailbreaking is 100% legal all the time. Since the majority of jail breakers would be using such apps or doing such things ... jailbreaking *is* actually still a crime in most cases.



    You can do whatever you want with a device that you bought with your own money. No manufacturer has the right to say anything about it. They will only state that you lost your warranty and have a nice day.



    However, if you intend to profit from the act of "jailbreaking" or use it with malicious intent, then that moves you into the "illegal" realm.
  • andyappleandyapple Posts: 152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Since many of these sites contain apps that would be technically illegal or links to sites that do illegal things, it would really be best if you guys stopped posting articles with such links to Cydia etc., and stop passing around the false idea that jailbreaking is 100% legal all the time. Since the majority of jail breakers would be using such apps or doing such things ... jailbreaking *is* actually still a crime in most cases.



    Speak for yourself. I jailbreaked my iPad just to upgrade the interface with apps like Full Screen Safari and Five Row Keyboard, among others.



    Incidentally, the link on EFF to jailbreakingisnotacrime.org doesn't seem to be working, wonder if the site has been overwhelmed or hacked.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,379member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galbi View Post


    You can do whatever you want with a device that you bought with your own money.



    Except illegal crap, yep.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by andyapple View Post


    ?wonder if the site has been overwhelmed or hacked.



  • mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galbi View Post


    Apple fans should be against "jailbreaking".



    It hurts Apple's bottom line.



    I don't think it does hurt their bottom line. I have never jailbroken an iOS device but in Latin America it is the only way people of limited means can get an iPhone. The old iPhones that get sold on craigslist and ebay go straight overseas to be jailbroked and used on a pay as you go sim card. 90% of the people in these regions use only pay as you go sims for which Apple does not sell any devices. I think jailbreaking in this situation actually helps spread the Apple culture and good will to many foreign countries.
  • charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,069member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Galbi View Post


    Apple fans should be against "jailbreaking".



    It hurts Apple's bottom line.



    Not really. Apple doesn't make it's scads from the app store. And when you screw up your phone they can and will deny you ny service paid or not so you'll have to buy another retail phone, perhaps at full price
  • gustavgustav Posts: 803member
    Sorry, but that graphic is hilarious. "Software locks hurt everyone" - no, software locks keep a lot of people from messing up their devices. Software locks prevent their devices from being hacked.



    I don't have a problem with anyone jailbreaking their own devices, but to suggest that everything be wide open for everyone will just turn iOS into another tech support and security nightmare. Apple doen't curate the App Store and lock down iOS to be mean. They do it because it results in a better user experience for the majority of their customers.
  • mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gustav View Post


    Sorry, but that graphic is hilarious. "Software locks hurt everyone" - no, software locks keep a lot of people from messing up their devices. Software locks prevent their devices from being hacked.



    I don't have a problem with anyone jailbreaking their own devices, but to suggest that everything be wide open for everyone will just turn iOS into another tech support and security nightmare. Apple doen't curate the App Store and lock down iOS to be mean. They do it because it results in a better user experience for the majority of their customers.



    What sucks is that you can't get your provider to unlock the phone after you have completed your contract. Not jailbreak just carrier unlock.
  • habanerohabanero Posts: 77member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    What sucks is that you can't get your provider to unlock the phone after you have completed your contract. Not jailbreak just carrier unlock.



    totally agree THAT should be illegal, but the carriers claim Apple is the one who won't provide the unlock code.

    (AT&T happily provided the unlock code for my RAZR when I completed my contract, since Motorola gave it to them)



    Apple is the one keeping your iPhone locked, not your carrier (one more reason jailbreaking should remain legal)
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,379member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Habañero View Post


    totally agree THAT should be illegal, but the carriers claim Apple is the one who won't provide the unlock code.

    (AT&T happily provided the unlock code for my RAZR when I completed my contract, since Motorola gave it to them)



    Apple is the one keeping your iPhone locked, not your carrier.



    And? you trust them. Mhmm.
  • ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    Jailbreaking is not a crime. Great motto. I'd be very much interested to know what percent of people *don't* use jail breaking to enable theft of apps.



    It's like electronic keys. There's a few legit uses for them. But most uses are nefarious.
  • habanerohabanero Posts: 77member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    And? you trust them. Mhmm.



    Moreso than Apple(!)
  • habanerohabanero Posts: 77member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post


    ...There's a few legit uses for them. But most uses are nefarious.



    I suppose the same could be said of crowbars and baseball bats.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 40,379member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Habañero View Post


    Moreso than Apple(!)



    You trust the TELECOMS more than Apple.



    The TELECOMS.



    ?
  • zeejay21zeejay21 Posts: 28member
    Wasn't there one hacker that said jailbreaking is not recommendable because it also breaks security? That same guy is the one who hacked Safari under two minutes during Pwn2Own contest years ago...



    I rather listen to him since he knows much about hacking & tech stuffs.
  • davemcm76davemcm76 Posts: 261member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post


    I'd be very much interested to know what percent of people *don't* use jail breaking to enable theft of apps.



    Well I'm in that percentage however big it is... iPhone 4, iPad 2 and Apple TV2 all jailbroken...



    iPhone / iPad for SBSettings so I can turn bluetooth on and off without digging through 4 levels of menu.

    iPad / Apple TV for XBMC so I can stream movies from my NAS box via UPNP... While there are apps in the appstore that do this (I've even paid for a couple!) I've yet to find one that works anything like as well as XBMC.



    I've never pirated an app, and I have no intention of ever doing so.
  • habanerohabanero Posts: 77member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    You trust the TELECOMS more than Apple.



    The TELECOMS.



    ?



    I don't particularly trust either... but I don't have to rely on trust when I have experience (read my original post)
  • irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,420member
    As long as hacking the PS3 (firmware hack), PSP (firmware hack), Xbox 360 (drive firmware hack), Nintendo DS (cartridge hack) all remain illegal then jail breaking iOS should, by those standards be illegal.



    Direct comparisons can be made between the PS3 hack which allows the end user to reinstate the other OS features and run unsigned code.
  • sol77sol77 Posts: 203member
    Buying knives should be illegal. They can be used to kill people. If I used my butter knife to kill someone, the act of buying the butter knife at Ikea months ago becomes illegal.



    I get that some are frustrated by the gray areas, similar to how people feel about gun laws in the States, but if there is a gray area, it is things like Installous, not jailbreaking. I've jailbroken my phone, and the only thing I do with it is add stupid tweaks, use activator for gesture controles, etc.



    How many people out there are like me...you see this as a complete non-issue that shouldn't even be considered? I don't understand how the matter of jailbreaking is even considered a "matter."
  • zeejay21zeejay21 Posts: 28member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    As long as hacking the PS3 (firmware hack), PSP (firmware hack), Xbox 360 (drive firmware hack), Nintendo DS (cartridge hack) all remain illegal then jail breaking iOS should, by those standards be illegal.



    Direct comparisons can be made between the PS3 hack which allows the end user to reinstate the other OS features and run unsigned code.



    This interest me as one of those who owns a PS3 and knows (a bit) of custom firmware.



    I'm glad that it remains illegal and continue to be so. Why? Way too much difficulty and headaches just to get things working right. Screwed up and... well, you're screwed. Some of them can even bricked your machine if you ain't careful.



    I wonder if EFF can help & take responsibility because they the ones who's fighting for these breaks?



    . . .



    Nope, guess not.
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