US government to legalise jailbreaking

Consumer rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation has successfully overturned part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which will allow users to jailbreak their smartphones.

The application to change the anti-circumvention part of the DMCA law will now protect users who want to modify their iPhones and other devices to work with third-party applications.

The exceptions to the law were granted as part of a three-year process intended to stop the DMCA from preventing the legitimate use of copyrighted materials.

The EFF also managed to achieve further protections for people who want to unlock their mobile devices to work with mobile carriers other than those approved by the handset makers, and for people using clips of commercial DVDs and other video sources in remix videos.

"By granting all of EFF's applications, the Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress have taken three important steps today to mitigate some of the harms caused by the DMCA," said Jennifer Granick, EFF's Civil Liberties Director. "We are thrilled to have helped free jailbreakers, unlockers and vidders from this law's overbroad reach."

The copyright office rejected Apple's claim that existing copyright law should stop people from installing non-approved apps saying, "When one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses."

The Copyright Office also said that unlocking devices to work with different carriers was also legal but the rule has only been mofified to apply to used mobile phones rather than new ones.

You can see a copy of the full rulemaking order here.