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Apple Claims That Jail-Breaking Is Illegal 610

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the never-underestimate-the-power-of-greed dept.
rmav writes "Apple has finally made a statement about jail-breaking. They try to sell the idea that it is a copyright infringement and DMCA violation. This, despite the fact (as the linked article states) that courts have ruled that copying software while reverse engineering is a fair use when done for purposes of fostering interoperability with independently created software. I cannot help but think that the recent flood of iPhone cracked applications is responsible for this. Before that, Apple was quietly ignoring the jailbreak scene. Now, I suppose that in the future we may only install extra applications on our iPhones as ad hoc installs using the SDK, and if we want turn-by-turn directions, tethering, and the like, we have to compile these apps by ourselves? Maybe we should go and download the cydia source code and see what we can do with it."
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Apple Claims That Jail-Breaking Is Illegal

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  • Bad summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by richdun (672214) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:49PM (#26847131)

    First off, this is coming now not because of some perceived "recent flood of iPhone cracked applications," but because the Copyright Office asked for exemption proposals to the DCMA on December 28, 2008, and the EFF filed one for jailbreaking. RTFA and RTFlegalbrief.

    Second, while not effectively the same, what Apple is doing is trying to prevent jailbreaking from being ruled legal, not trying to have it ruled illegal. Being a non-lawyer, I'd at first say this is the same thing, but it is different. Just because something isn't ruled explicitly legal doesn't make it illegal, but would definitely help if some day someone wanted to sue over a jailbreak.

    Engadget has a nice write-up on this from someone who has legal training if the three or four of you out there who don't just read the summary and post would like another perspective - http://www.engadget.com/2009/02/13/apple-and-eff-spar-over-iphone-jailbreaking-and-the-dmca// [engadget.com]

  • by Jon.Laslow (809215) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:59PM (#26847285) Homepage Journal
    Not to nitpick (actually, yes - this is complete nitpicking), but Jailbreaking relates to running unsigned code on the phone (and giving full access to the filesystem). Unlocking is what allows people to use other carriers and SIMs.
  • Re:And so it begins (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xtifr (1323) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:04PM (#26847381) Homepage

    Begins!? Apple is the only major vendor to have been actively boycotted by the FSF for their efforts to obstruct freedom, force lock-in and undermine competition. Even Microsoft[*] hasn't managed to reach that high water mark. Of course, Apple has come a long way since then, and many of our younger readers may not even remember what they were like at their worst. ("Look-and-Feel" anyone?) Still, those of us who remember the bad old Apple keep a wary eye on the new-and-(mostly-)improved Apple.

    [*] FSF members may not run MS OSes, but they do actively support building software to run under MS OSes, and will even accept patches to help their software run better on MS OSes.

  • by bigfatdeal (1272820) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:19PM (#26847609)
    (since AT&T doesn't make money on a jailbroken phone that gets a contract with Verizon or Sprint)


    Not to nitpick, but the iPhone is quad band GSM and will not work on CDMA networks like Verizon or Sprint.
  • by kalirion (728907) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:21PM (#26847651)

    Exactly. From the page about the Cycorder app [iphonehacks.com] linked to in TFA:
    "The free native iPhone app appears to be much better video recording app than iPhone Video Recorder which costs $19.95. "

  • by cowscows (103644) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:22PM (#26847661) Journal

    Jailbreaking an iPhone isn't really much different than removing the DRM from a game that you own. But neither one is ethically problematic (although it might be illegal due to silly laws). With the game, it becomes wrong when you then start distributing the cracked version to people who haven't purchased it and who don't rightfully own it.

    Jailbreaking on the iPhones historically (a long 15 month history) has been about running software without Apple's approval. The jailbreaking scene came into being well before Apple started selling applications on the iTMS. For about a year, there wasn't really any other way of putting new software onto your phone. Now that there is an online store for buying apps, it is possible to use a jailbroken phone to pirate them, but that wasn't the original reason for the development of the jailbreaking processes, and it's not the only reason that that development continues.

  • by kalirion (728907) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:24PM (#26847697)

    Nevermind, looks like the iPhone Video Recorder is also only for jailbroken phones. That's what I get for not reading my own sources.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:32PM (#26847819)

    How is jailbreaking an iPhone different from removing DRM from a game?

    A jail is not copy protection, it's a type of execution protection. Apple used a jail as a method of hiding parts of the OS from running apps as a means to control the apps, rather than its more common purposes of isolating potentially insecure or dangerous applications.

    Am I wrong that Jailbreaking an iPhone simply allows you to use more applications on it?
    Is it true that there are free, non-stolen programs that wouldn't normally run on an iPhone without it being Jailbroken?

    That is correct. Jail breaking gives applications access to extra functionality that they can't normally have, such as staying open in the background or accessing your music library.

    Or is Jailbreaking simply a means to running pirated iPhone apps?

    Jailbreaking existed before there were iPhone apps to pirate.

    Is this not "Fair Use?"

    Sure seems like it is to me.

  • Re:And so it begins (Score:4, Informative)

    by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:40PM (#26847975)
    I know slashdot hivemind loves to hate apple and I myself am not a fan of this whole iphone lock-in crap (I won't buy one just because they make you sign a $70/mo. contract with AT&T & they won't let you officially tether it), but just to make this discussion a little more even-handed, I'll point out a couple of cases where Apple has "played nice" with open source.

    Exhibit A: CUPS [cups.org]. Apple owns it. Nothing bad has happened. In fact it has worked so well that I've been using free gutenberg printer drivers for a laser printer that Apple stopped supporting in Leopard. Works fine.
    Exhibit B: Webkit [webkit.org]. Apple forked khtml and now there are several browsers for windows [google.com], linux [twotoasts.de] browsers are based off it. Nothing bad has happened, and I think we can all agree that webkit is a darn fast browser engine.
    Exhibit C: Darwin [apple.com] is open source. That's right, the OS X operating system is open source and released by Apple. Granted, the window manager (quartz) is not, nor are a lot of the apps (like the Finder), but you can always use X11, which btw, apple provides also.

    So, it's a little disingenuous to portray Apple as completely proprietary: How many open source projects does Microsoft participate in? Yes I agree that Apple does try to lock you into their hardware, and that sucks, but they're not being completely evil.
  • by ProfBooty (172603) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:42PM (#26848001)

    The Woz apparently has a jailbroken Iphone and has done it for others:

    http://www.viddler.com/explore/engadget/videos/23/ [viddler.com]

    they plan on going after him? Speaking of which, how much of apple does he own?

  • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:51PM (#26848139)

    You can charge anything you want in the app store. Developers have complained though that since the store is so popular that any app being sold for more than 99c quickly sees copies that push the price toward 99c.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:52PM (#26848155)

    Is it true that there are free, non-stolen programs that wouldn't normally run on an iPhone without it being Jailbroken?

    Yes there are. My iPhone is jailbroken but I do not have any pirated apps on it. For myself, jailbreaking is about running the applications that I want to run on my phone, rather than the ones Apple thinks I should run. I don't agree with apple's seemingly random approval process. Take the case of tethering for example. It isn't up to Apple to decide whether I can tether my laptop to my phone and use it as a gateway or not. That is between me and my carrier to decide. They have sold me a phone and as far as I am concerned, that's the end of their part in the deal.

  • Re:Jail (Score:4, Informative)

    by hobbit (5915) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:57PM (#26848225)

    The term "jailbreaking" comes from the term "chroot jail". It's not just pejorative nonsense like "piracy".

  • by nsayer (86181) * <nsayer.kfu@com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:23PM (#26848601) Homepage

    Modifying the software - that is, creating a derivative work - is unauthorized and may well represent a breach of copyright law.

    Um, no.

    distributing a derivative work that is unauthorized is a breach of copyright law. Making one for yourself is not.

  • by Paco103 (758133) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:28PM (#26848671)

    If I buy software and sell you an illegal copy, you have then purchased software illegally.

    Just because you may not have known it was an illegal copy isn't necessarily a defense, just ask the RIAA. I seem to recall cases of people subscribing to those all-you-can-download 'services' that turned out to be piracy groups.

  • by Sparks23 (412116) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:33PM (#26848749)

    Apple makes a little plastic box, sells the boxes and licenses the software. People modify the software to allow you to write to the 'secured' portions of the device storage, thus allowing third-party software to be installed and device functionality to be modified. Apple turns a blind eye.

    Jailbreaking folks come up with a way to unlock the radio baseband, making it possible to use a SIM card from any provider in the phone. Cellular companies who want exclusivity complain when phones are unlocked to work on any network. Apple complies with the cell companies' demands and makes changes to prevent unlocking. Apple continues to turn a blind eye to the jailbreaking itself, though does warn folks that if you modify the software they can't be responsible for supporting the modified OS.

    Apple releases a new version of the OS containing a locked-down sandbox for third-party apps, allowing people to install apps without jailbreaking. People continue to jailbreak the phones to use private APIs (allowing tethering) or do things like have apps that run in the background and so on. Apple continues to turn a blind eye, and apps exist in both realms.

    Someone in the jailbreaking community comes out with a way to basically point-and-click 'crack' software bought from the App Store, and allow people to send it around freely for jailbroken devices. Some app authors find up to 2/3rds (especially for games) of their users are using pirated copies that weren't paid for. Much fuss and to-do on blogs, news sites, etc. App authors complain to Apple that there needs to be Something Done! Oh noes!

    Apple, after a year and a half of turning a blind eye to the jailbreaking scene, suddenly makes an abrupt about-face and says 'Jailbreaking is verboten.'

    Now, none of us are in the heads of the Apple folks behind this decision, so we can't say for certain whether the sudden shift is due to the EFF's claims, or Crackulous, or maybe just random whim or signs read in tea leaves in the Apple cafeteria. But the timing and sudden nature of Apple's shift here does make a connection to the Crackulous brouhaha at the least a strong possibility.

  • by Smauler (915644) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:36PM (#26848777)

    A software license requires that both parties know what they are signing up to prior to money changing hands. I'd wager in over 99% of iphone purchases customers have not read and/or understood the legalese, and thus the software licenses are not valid. Without a lawyer, many people would not understand the many possible ramifications of the legalese either. The contracts are also generally invalid because they contain a clause claiming one party (guess which) can change the terms of the contract at any time. If Apple decided to levy a $10000 surcharge on all users with a change in the contract, do you really think that would hold up in a court?

    Basically, software licenses aimed at individuals that require consumers to read pages of smallprint prior to purchase are not valid.

  • by SupremoMan (912191) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:41PM (#26848889)
    "We unlock iPhones." Investigate? [Yes/No]
  • Re:Apple Lock-in... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2009 @05:04PM (#26849227)

    webkit - used in konquerer

    I want to reach through the screen and throttle you.

    Apple forked KHTML into WebKit because the KDE developers wouldn't submit to Apple's asinine NDA demands. Konqueror and the KDE team use their own work -- Konqueror existed long before WebKit.

  • by Stewie241 (1035724) on Friday February 13, 2009 @06:05PM (#26850089)

    No, you never had the freedom to do that in the first place, so how can the GPL restrict a freedom you never had (which is what gp was saying). "at least as compared to unlicensed copyrighted media"

  • by Raenex (947668) on Friday February 13, 2009 @06:06PM (#26850095)

    Personally, I think anything that can be copied really shouldn't be copyrightable, not necessarily because I like to pirate because you should be able to physically manipulate anything you buy in any way you see fit unless you give up that right through contract.

    As long as you aren't redistributing to other people, you have freedom to manipulate as you please. The DMCA is a recent invention and a bit wonky, but it still allows you fair use.

    I think part of the problem is that traditionally, people have built careers on what now can be represented in binary terms and easily transferred to other people, and hence people think they have a right to treating those 1s and 0s like they were chairs or televisions (scarce resources).

    Copyright was always about artificial scarcity once the printing press was invented. Of course, the part that isn't scarce is the original labor invested into the creation, and that is what copyright was meant to foster.

  • by Lars T. (470328) <Lars DOT Traeger AT googlemail DOT com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @07:18PM (#26850885) Journal

    I'm a simple-minded person. So correct me if I am misunderstanding this situation:

    Apple makes a little plastic box with an LCD screen, a battery, and a circuit board and sells it to people in retail stores. And they claim that there is some kind of law that prohibits anyone who buys this little plastic box from opening it, determining how it works, and telling other people how to make it work better.

    Yes you are misunderstanding - the EFF acknowledges that there such a law by requesting an exemption from this law for doing what you just described.

  • by chonglibloodsport (1270740) on Friday February 13, 2009 @08:23PM (#26851565)
    Do you grow your own food? Raise your own livestock? If not, was all your food delivered to you without gasoline? How about electricity? Do you produce your own or is it from a clean source or not? Pretty much everything you could ever buy has something to do with gasoline, diesel or other fossil fuels. If you really uphold your principles, you'll have to abstain from all of that. Good luck living in a vacuum.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @12:21AM (#26853177)

    Um, Guys, It's time to start the iPhone linux distro. [...] Meet you at sourceforge.

    Apparently they're using github:
    http://www.iphonelinux.org/ [iphonelinux.org]

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