Jailbreaking is a Crime: Apple

We know how protective Apple is with the iPhone, going to great lengths to make sure users can only install "approved" applications, but a way around that is to jailbreak the phone. Given that, Apple has filed comments (.PDF) with the U.S. Copyright Office, as part of the 2009 DMCA triennial rulemaking, claiming that jailbreaking an iPhone constitutes copyright infringement and a DMCA violation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation doesn't agree.  And why would they? They've already filed their own comments with the Copyright Office asking for an exemption to the DMCA so that cell phone owners can unlock their phones (their "Free Your Phone" campaign), which shows their opinion along these lines.

Here's what the EFF said in a press release:
Apple's copyright infringement claim starts with the observation that jailbroken iPhones depend on modified versions of Apple's bootloader and operating system software. True enough -- we said as much in our technical white paper describing the jailbreak process. But the courts have longrecognized that copying software while reverse engineering is a fair use when done for purposes of fostering interoperability with independently created software, a body of law that Apple conveniently fails to mention.

As for the DMCA violation, Apple casts its lot with the likes of laser printer makers and garage door opener companies who argue that the DMCA entitles them to block interoperability with anything that hasn't been approved in advance. Apple justifies this by claiming that opening the iPhone to independently created applications will compromise safety, security, reliability, and swing the doors wide for those who want to run pirated software.

If this sounds like FUD, that's because it is. One need only transpose Apple's arguments to the world of automobiles to recognize their absurdity. Sure, GM might tell us that, for our own safety, all servicing should be done by an authorized GM dealer using only genuine GM parts. Toyota might say that swapping your engine could reduce the reliability of your car. And Mazda could say that those who throw a supercharger on their Miatas frequently exceed the legal speed limit.
We like the analogy the EFF uses above. But whether or not the Copyright Office sides with or with the corporations that lobby them --- well, we don't have a lot of confidence in that. What we really need, anyway, is unlocked phones and the ability to install whatever you want on the phone.

Even with the ability to jailbreak an iPhone, many won't do it, as it will void the warranty. This might be what attracts consumers to the Palm Pre when it launches later this year, assuming they can reach critical mass on applications.

Tags:  Apple, iPhone, EFF, Jailbreak