Vocal jailbreaking critics such as Apple itself have always cited the fact that hacking your smartphone is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Now they need to come up with something else to keep people from doing it, because that argument is no longer valid. The Copyright Office has just issued a set of exemptions to the DMCA, making jailbreaking and unlocking your iPhone legal.
Here are two exemptions which apply specifically to jailbreakers (quoted from the official record):
The Librarian of Congress has announced the classes of works subject to the exemption from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works. Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) until the conclusion of the next rulemaking…
Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset….
Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is initiated by the owner of the copy of the computer program solely in order to connect to a wireless telecommunications network and access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network.
In plain English, that means it’s okay to jailbreak your iPhone to run software that you have obtained legally, or to unlock it to run on another network.
This is a huge win for jailbreakers, but I think it’s obvious that the stealing of apps will skyrocket in the near future, because it just got a whole lot harder to get caught. This could be very bad news for developers.