Apple Says Jailbreaking Violates Copyright

February 19th, 2009 at 12:00 am


Jailbreaking is definitely wrong if one is talking about escaping prisons. But in the case concerning the mobile industry, things are not yet as clear cut as it stands. In the mobile world, jailbreaking is a fairly new term referring to the means to opening up a mobile phone from the certain restrictions and limitations imposed on its use by a mobile carrier or the manufacturer. Jailbreaking allows users to modify their mobile gadgets at customize them in terms of functions and added features.

The case of jailbreaking mobile gadgets supposedly becomes a big deal when it concerns the popular iPhone and the new iPod versions. Apple has manufactured their uber popular iPhones and iPods with certain restrictive features that allow them only to download applications and services from its equally popular online App Store and songs from the iTunes Music Store, which usually comes at a price.

But then, the popularity of the iPhone and other Apple gadgets brought about more and more users trying to get rid of the restrictions, which led to many people resorting to jailbreaking. This practice, Apple is saying, is a violation of the company’s copyright. At least that is what the company told the US Copyright Office on their stand on the jailbreaking of their devices. There’s no official comment from the company yet concerning the matter. It still remains with the US Copyright Office for deliberation.

Apple places restrictions on their standard iPhones for installing applications only from approved sources, notably from the App Store. Unauthorized modifications on the iPhone’s OS and proprietary bootloader, Apple claims, constitute copyright infringement. But some people believe this is not to be so.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation or EEF is requesting the US Copyright Office to grant a DMCA exception for iPhone users who choose to jailbreak their phones or to bypass the restrictions Apple places on their devices. The people at EEF argued that jailbreaking is protected under fair-use doctrines and that doing so is an important part of innovation process. Depending on where one looks at it, each camp may have valid reasons for their stand on the current issue of jailbreaking. But for sure, the ensuing decision on the matter will surely have its repercussions any which way.