New Ruling Continues To Let You Legally Jailbreak Your iPhone, But Not Your iPad [Jailbreak]

New Ruling Continues To Let You Legally Jailbreak Your iPhone, But Not Your iPad [Jailbreak]

The US Copyright Office reviews the Digital Millennium Copyright Act every three years, looking at requests to create temporary changes that act as ersatz loopholes int he law, typically to address continually changing technology standards. This year, the Copyright Office allows jailbreaking of devices like the iPhone, but not for devices like the iPad.

The Office also ruled that consumers can unlock phones purchased before January 2013, but not thereafter. You’ll also be albe to bypass encryption on a DVD to use an excerpt in a non-commercial way, like in a documentary, but it will still be illegal to rip a DVD for your iPad.

The rules seem pretty arbitrary, right?

Why can’t we jailbreak iPads? The Librarian of Congress, who can grant these exceptions, “found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets,’ notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate. For example, an e-book reading device might be considered a ‘tablet,’ as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer.”

In other words, the people and companies that hold the rights to the content we all want to be able to legally move from our DVDs to our iPads convinced the Librarian of Congress that the word “tablet” was too ill-defined to allow such an exception, as people might start jailbreaking portable gaming consoles, e-readers, and laptops. So, basically, until the Librarian can find enough evidence to define “tablet” computers as things like an iPad, we’re stuck with the older rules. Good thing they go up for re-evaluation in three years.

Don’t feel too bad, however, as the Office also disallowed modification of game consoles, but allowed the cracking of DRM-protected e-books for consumers with a disability, regardless of the availability of that e-book in a non-DRM format, as the law stated previously.

One step up and two steps back? Perhaps, but it’s good to see that the laws regarding our current technology “rights” are being looked at, and updated, fairly regularly.

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  • Cortney Sauk

    And how does any of this affect me??? Not at all, not only since I’m in Canada but also because I really don’t care what some pencil pusher in congress thinks I can and can not do with what I buy.

  • Jairo

    Does this mean I can get arrested if I’m seen with my jailbroken iPad in public?

  • joewaylo

    Does this mean I can get arrested if I’m seen with my jailbroken iPad in public?

    Maybe but of course if DCMA changes the rules it will be legal to jailbreak the iPad. however you also void your warranty protection because some of these non-Apple apps windup as malware.

  • Kevin Hancox

    Maybe but of course if DCMA changes the rules it will be legal to jailbreak the iPad. however you also void your warranty protection because some of these non-Apple apps windup as malware.

    That works both ways though, as you can legally do it to your iPhone up until Jan 2013 and the warranty would have to stand… ;) Regardless of what software you put on it.. ;)

  • ac1dra1n

    Does this mean that people working on iOS 6 jailbreak will stop working on it?

  • TheKnightWhoSaysNi

    The Librarian of Congress is an old man (73) that is obviously out of his league when dealing with cutting edge technology.

  • Destroyer666

    “The Office also ruled that consumers can unlock phones purchased before January 2013, but not thereafter.”

    I have a feeling that if I were to call AT&T and request my iPhone 5 to be unlocked they will not be aware of such ruling. Any suggestions as to when and how carriers are going to become aware of such ruling?

About the author

Rob LeFebvreAnchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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