New ruling on copyright law makes jailbreaking your iPhone legal

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The Librarian of Congress has released new exemptions to the section of the U.S. copyright law prohibiting the circumvention of copyright-protection technology.

According to Section 1201(a)(1) of the U.S. copyright law, it is illegal for an individual to “circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a [copyrighted] work[.]” In other words, it is illegal to use software or hardware to bypass copyright protection on music, video, ebooks, and other copyrighted materials.

The same section of the code also gives the Librarian of Congress the power to declare exemptions to the prohibition on technology circumvention for certain classes of material, however. Every three years the Librarian announces the exemptions, which are established in order to protect persons “adversely affected by [the] prohibition in their ability to make noninfringing uses” of copyrighted material.

Some of the new materials exempted are:

  • DVDs, when used for educational or documentary purposes
  • Programs which prevent installation of applications on mobile phones, such as Apple’s iPhone operating system
  • Software which prevents a used mobile phone from accessing a cellular network
  • Software which prevents eBooks from being read aloud

Read the full announcement here: Statement of the Librarian of Congress Relating to Section 1201 Rulemaking