The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has petitioned the Library of Congress to officially protect phone owners who bypass software restrictions on their phones—aka “jailbreaking.” Apple has just filed an objection, arguing that doing so would infringe on their copyright. If Apple gets its way,
[it] would have the right to claim statutory damages of up to $2,500 “per act of circumvention.” People who jailbreak phones, might even be subject to criminal penalties of as long as five years, if they circumvented copyright for a financial gain.
The big question, of course, is who really owns your damned phone? Apple says that bypassing their software restrictions messes with the “chain of trust” they’ve set up and screws up their “ecosystem.” The EFF counters that if you apply Apple’s argument to another industry, it falls apart:
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.
On a more serious note, they point out:
But the courts have long recognized 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.
The EFF has set up a “Free Your Phone” website where you can follow the case as it moves before the Library of Congress: www.freeyourphone.org.
“Could You Go to Jail for Jailbreaking Your iPhone?” [Bits Blog – New York Times]
“Apple speaks out against jailbreaking” [vnunet]