Apple: Jailbreaking an iPhone = copyright infringement & DMCA violation

Apple: Jailbreaking an iPhone = copyright infringement & DMCA violation

Summary: It seems that Apple is growing tired of iPhone jailbreakers getting a free ride and is pushing to make jailbreaking illegal.


It seems that Apple is growing tired of iPhone jailbreakers getting a free ride and is pushing to make jailbreaking illegal:

Jailbreaking an iPhone constitutes copyright infringement and a DMCA violation, says Apple in comments filed with the Copyright Office as part of the 2009 DMCA triennial rulemaking. This marks the first formal public statement by Apple about its legal stance on iPhone jailbreaking.

Apple's iPhone, now the best-selling cellular phone in the U.S., has been designed with restrictions that prevent owners from running applications obtained from sources other than Apple's own iTunes App Store. "Jailbreaking" is the term used for removing these restrictions, thereby liberating your phone from Apple's software "jail." Estimates put the number of iPhone owners who have jailbroken their phones in the hundreds of thousands.

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While this is undoubtedly FUD, it also serves as a clear indication of Apple's growing dissatisfaction with those who jailbreak their iPhone. Since trying to make the jailbreak process harder hasn't worked, the company is now trying to get the law on its side.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, iPhone

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  • Apple: IP>(Physical Property)

    The proper solution, though is to stop buying iPhones or any other similarly encumbered product (to include XBoxes).
    John L. Ries
    • Or ...

      ... live with the limits!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • A better solution... to insist on rights people traditionally have with their property. Apple should not be allowed to redefine societal norms for apple's own corporate agenda.
      • Well I do not know who made Apple...

        A lawmaker, but in this country it is congress that makes the laws, so Apple can say what it wants, but it will not hold up in court.
  • But what about Apple's open letter decrying DRM?

    I mean, Apple [b]says[/b] they are against DRM and Apple wouldn't say one thing and do something totally opposite, would they? Multi-national, multi-billion $$$/year mega corporations are always honest when they make statements, aren't they?

    Hmm, unless... no... couldn't be. Could it? Could Apple be against DRM when it protects someone else's property but be very much for it when it protects theirs? Naaaaaah. Apple wouldn't be hypocritical like that! Would they? ;)
    • oh yes, Apple is only against protecting IP rights of <i>others</i>

      Apple's own IP rights - that's something
      totally different! Not related at all. Apple's
      IP is by definition cool and deserves all the
      protection in the world. Like their latest idea
      with - wait for it - <i>removable
    • Some pre-coffee thinking?

      DRM is a copying inhibitor technology. Jobs said he thought it was a
      bad idea for music, and the company has finally worked out a deal
      with the recording companies whereby music is sold in unlocked
      format at Apple's particular store. DRM which prevents the iPod from
      becoming a Johnny Musicseed device is still in use. Apple is clearly
      using DRM to inhibit copying of movie/tv downloads and iPhone apps. For the former, it is, no doubt, a requirement of the distribution deal.
      For the latter, Apple clearly has a choice and presumed the app
      developers would not want customers to have the right to self-
      distribute. (I see a problem there under the "first-sale" doctrine and
      for any app which relies on GPL licensed code.)

      Apple's attorneys here are suggesting to the copyright poobahs that a
      device's owner who adds to or modifies Apple's software should be in
      full liability to provisions of the DMCA. This is an argument that the
      act constitutes copyright infringement and/or copying prevention
      technology circumvention. It is not an argument on the merits of DRM
      as a commercial choice for distributing media.

      Indeed, any one who criticizes the iPhone as a locked-down, freedom
      inhibiting device should rejoice at the consistency shown by this
      communication to the Library of Congress.
  • RE: Apple: Jailbreaking an iPhone = copyright infringement

    I can buy a car and put any accessories on it I want.
    I can buy a computer and install any software I want.
    Why should buying a phone be any different?
    If I was to rent the phone then they have the right to stop me from changing it.
    But if I have purchased it then it should be mine and if I want to install programs on it why can?t I?
    • You can

      You just can't buy an iPhone and expect to.
      Vote with your wallet. Instead of making what you do fit the device, buy a device that can be fitted to the way you do things.
      And if you buy an iPhone, shut up and use it the way you are told. You made that choice going in.
      • No, you should not 'shut up and use it the way you are told'

        That is an ASSHOLES reasoning there, that just because you buy something from someone, they get to dictate to your how you use it.... SORRY, N O!

        No one gets to dictate to me what I do with my legally bought hardware or software. PERIOD!
        • Really?

          I hear all the time that any phone/computer/PDA whatever should be
          open to anything I want to do to it. Tell me, then, why is it that when I
          owned a Motorola RAZR I was prohibited from buying software (games
          in my case) that were able to run on it unless they were approved and
          marketed by a single source provider? I wasn't allowed to write my
          own games, there was no way to install anything from anywhere other
          than the provider's network, I couldn't access anything that was not
          vetted , approved, and charged for by my provider?

          This isn't exactly an apple to iPhone comparison, I know, since the
          RAZR is not a smartphone. My point is that many many devices over
          the years have had such restrictions and it isn't until Apple adopts a
          similar stance that anyone seems to care.

          As for DMCA violation? I don't know. But jailbreaking clearly modifies
          the iPhone OS. There is a possibility for copyright and licensing
          litigation there. It would be interesting to see who wins.

          I agree with the sentiment that if you buy a device that has well
          known restrictions you should expect to be held to those restrictions.
          This is no different than modding an X-Box, Wii, Playstation, GPS, or
          any other device with an embedded OS. The differences are that (1)
          the capabilities of the iPhone make it more tempting and (2) Apple
          defends its copyrights and IP voraciously. What it is NOT is a surprise.
          When S Jobs first introduced the iPhone, over a year before you could
          even buy one, he specifically said that they hand patented the heck
          out of the technology and that they would defend those patents. Now
          that it's happening, we are surprised for what reason?

          Like it or loathe it we were warned.
        • No. you are incorrect

          Apple is well within its rights to do exactly that(tell you how to use a device you bought from them).
          They told you that when you bought the device.
          Even a passing understanding of the DMCA shows Apple is well within the law by doing so.

          You paid them to treat you this way. Enjoy it.
          I just don't want to hear the whining.
        • Actually, copyright laws tell you ...

          what you can do with your legally bought software:

          "The law provides that transfer of ownership of any material object
          that embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in
          the copyright."

          That's what the Copyright Office says. EFF wants an exemption so
          that [b]copyrighted code can be modified.[/b] It's against the law,
          they know it's against the law. They're asking to be exempt from the

          Apple has copyrighted code in the iPhone, and jailbreaking modifies
          that code. That's a violation of Apple's copyright. Period.
          • Copyright prevents you from distributing information...

            ...not modifying it for your own purposes.
          • Wrong, wrong, wrong!!!!!

            The people involved in this distributing a method of modifying Apple's
            copyrighted code. This is not for their own purposes.

            [b]They know it's illegal. That's why they're asking to be [i]exempted[/i]
            from the law.[/b]

          • You may be right, but...

            ... the original intent of the law was to promote the content creation having in mind things such as music and books. Hobbling and electronic device to restrict the market for third party software was never an intent of copyright law. What apple is doing is wrong.
          • @hamobu....But? But?

            Here's what this is all about:

            ?To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for
            limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their
            respective writings and discoveries?

            U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8

            There's nothing there about either music or books. Software is
            considered written, and it's granted copyright because of this Section
            of the U.S. Constitution. Please note the phrase "exclusive right."
            They don't have to do anything to 'restrict.' They have the "exclusive
            right," as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Others have [b]no
            right[/b] to alter that work.
    • because an car is just hardware and an iPhone is hardware and software...

      and you are bound the the ELUA use agree to when you
      use the software.. i.e. the OS... if you want to go
      and install linix on it, have at it. also it's my
      understanding you need to break encryption in order to
      jailbreak a phone... this is illegal in the US.

      software is not like hardware and therefore has
      different rules.

      think of it this way.. you just bought a copy of
      Windows.. it's yours (your words, not mine) can you
      legally, then take that copy of windows an install it
      on as many computers as you like.. it's yours, so why
      not.. can you use portions of the code and come up
      with your own OS using portions of Microsoft's code? i
      think it's easy to see that the answer to both those
      questions are no and i think you can even see the
      reasoning behind it.

      software for some really good reasons come with
      strings attached... even open source software has
      strings attached to it's use.. your car/hardware
      analogy just doesn't make sense in the context of

      so sure the iPhone hardware is yours to do with as you
      like.. want to throw it at a brick wall.. go for it.
      but if you want to use mobile OS X on it then you are
      bound by it's EULA... and on top of that if you don't
      want to be subject to paying a big fine and maybe jail
      time (don't know the exact punishment for breaking the
      DMCA) you are subject to US law which prohibits
      breaking the iPhones encryption on its files.

      car != iPhone (!= means not equal to)
      • Did you read the link?

        "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."
        • what link? nt.