26 Oct 2012

DMCA Ruling: It’s OK to Jailbreak Phones, But Tablet Jailbreakers Technically go to Jail

The Library of Congress announced on Thursday the last batch of exemptions to the circumvention of copyright protection systems in a document that will become effective on Oct. 28.

Among other things, the 69-page document regulates the fair use of jailbreaking technologies – a term that allows an iPhone owner to circumvent restrictions imposed by the manufacturer on the execution of third-party applications that are not installable through the vendor’s App Store.

According to the document, the rule allows the use of “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute lawfully obtained software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the telephone handset.” However, the exemption “does not apply to tablets – as had been requested by proponents – because the record did not support it. “

Tablet jailbreaking has been restricted as “the proposed class was broad and ill-defined”. In laymen’s terms, the Librarian can’t accurately define what a tablet is, how it operates and what its intended purpose is.

“On the other hand, the Register concluded that the record did not support an extension of the exemption to `tablet’ devices.  […] For example, an ebook reading device might be considered a `tablet,’ as might a handheld video game device or a laptop computer,” reads the document.

Although jailbreaking an iPad technically is punishable as per the DMCA regulation, chances of prosecution for circumventing the protection mechanisms on an iPad or iPad Mini are basically nil. Or at least they are much lower than the chance of you getting your device bricked in the process.