'Apple Makes Siri iPhone 4 Port Legally Possible With Today’s iOS 5.0.1 Update,' the headline over at Cult of Mac breathlessly screams. But is there any substance to the hype?
'Siri is by far the iPhone 4S’s most-desired feature, and many non-4S users have been clamoring for hackers to make the voice assistant available on older iOS devices. While Siri ports have been demoed to the public before, it’s been made clear that public distribution is not possibile at this time due to legal issues.
Apple has made a Siri port legally possible with today’s iOS 5.0.1 revision by offering wide-open access to system files that were previously encrypted.
So Apple decrypts some files, and all of a sudden it's legal to distribute them? Ummm, I hate to be a spoil-sport but I feel the need to point something out. Here's a little tidbit from Apple's software license agreement for the iPhone 4S [emphasis added]:
2. Permitted License Uses and Restrictions. (a) Subject to the terms and conditions of this License, you are granted a limited non-exclusive license to use the iOS Software on a single Apple-branded iOS Device. Except as permitted in Section 2(b) below, and unless as provided in a separate agreement between you and Apple, this License does not allow the iOS Software to exist on more than one Apple-branded iOS Device at a time, and you may not distribute or make the iOS Software available over a network where it could be used by multiple devices at the same time. This License does not grant you any rights to use Apple proprietary interfaces and other intellectual property in the design, development, manufacture, licensing or distribution of third party devices and accessories, or third party software applications, for use with iOS Devices. Some of those rights are available under separate licenses from Apple.
In other words, if you try to distribute any Apple code without permission, the company will bury you in legal paperwork.
While the files were encrypted, attempting to circumvent that encryption would have fallen foul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which criminalized the circumvention of an access control mechanism, but decrypting these files doesn't mean that it's fair game to start distributing Apple intellectual property. Copyright infringement, while not criminal, is still a civil matter.
So by decrypting the files, Apple has made a port of Siri 'technically' possible, but calling it 'legal' is a huge stretch.