Federal Government: Sorry, Apple, Jailbreaking iPhones Is Fair Use

1984 Mac commercial

The Electronic Frontier Foundation won regulatory approval for three exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including one that covers jailbreaking smartphones.

The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress agreed with the EFF’s argument that jailbreaking phones to allow the installation of unapproved software constitutes fair use.

While the ruling applies in theory to any smartphone, the only manufacturer mentioned is Apple, which wrote to voice its objections to the exception, saying the iPhone’s restrictions are necessary to protect consumers. The Library rejected Apple’s arguments, saying that “if Apple sought to restrict the computer programs that could be run on its computers, there would be no basis for copyright law to assist Apple in protecting its restrictive business model.”

As a practical matter, jailbreakers — including this reporter — haven’t been facing any legal threats up until now. Still, it’s nice to have the government’s explicit blessing.

As part of the same announcement, the Copyright Office also gave its blessing to video editors who use excerpts of copyrighted movies in online mashups.

Dan Frommer’s take: Apple Still Has Nothing To Worry About When It Comes To “Jailbreaking” iPhones

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.