Circumventing Apple's safeguards in order to install unapproved applications on the iPhone as well as CSS-braking of copy-protected DVDs could be allowed under certain circumstances, according to new government rules announced Monday.
The U.S. Copyright Office set exemptions for a 1998 federal
law prohibiting gadget owners from bypassing technical locks
companies use to protect products from unauthorized uses.
The Library of Congress, which oversees the Copyright
Office, conducts the review process every three years. On
Monday, the Copyright Office has announced the classes of
works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against
circumvention of technological measures that control access
to copyrighted works.
Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six
classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition
against circumventing access controls. The classes include:
- Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and
acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling
System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to
accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion
pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or
comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention
believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that
circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use
in the following instances:
(i) Educational uses by college and university
professors and by college and university film and media
(ii) Documentary filmmaking;
(iii) Noncommercial videos.
- Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets
to execute software applications, where circumvention is
accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling
interoperability of such applications, when they have been
lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone
- Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software,
that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a
wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is
initiated by the owner of the copy of the computer program
solely in order to connect to a wireless telecommunications
network and access to the network is authorized by the
operator of the network.
- Video games accessible on personal computers and protected
by technological protection measures that control access to
lawfully obtained works, when circumvention is accomplished
solely for the purpose of good faith testing for,
investigating, or correcting security flaws or
(i) The information derived from the security testing
is used primarily to promote the security of the owner or
operator of a computer, computer system, or computer
(ii) The information derived from the security testing
is used or maintained in a manner that does not facilitate
copyright infringement or a violation of applicable law.
- Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access
due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A
dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer
manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer
reasonably available in the commercial marketplace; and
- Literary works distributed in ebook format when all
existing ebook editions of the work (including digital text
editions made available by authorized entities) contain
access controls that prevent the enabling either of the
book?s read-aloud function or of screen readers that render
the text into a specialized format.
The exemptions are interesting. For example, unlocking the
iPhone's ties to AT&T has been determined to be legal,
thanks to these rules. While some use the practice for
deploying rogue apps or for accessing advanced customization
settings, others jailbreak their phones so that they can be
used on other carriers.
Apple has already issued a statement arguing why
jailbreaking its phones should remain illegal.
The new rules also negate any potential legal arguments from
Motorola, Samsung or their companion carriers in response to
attempts at prying open software on their phones.
Although cutting through manufacturers' security measures is
now legal, such a move would still violate product
warranties set by many companies. So if an iPhone locks down
after it has been jailbroken, Apple doesn't have to repair
it or provide technical support.