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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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  • Means nothing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by halivar (535827) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @01:42PM (#26847027) Homepage

    Apple can claim whatever they want, and can sue whoever they want for DMCA violations. C&D's are freely distributable.

    Whether or not that claim has the weight of law is up to a judge, not a marketing director.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:16PM (#26847563)

    Copyright (it least in it's original form) governed the reproduction and distribution only. If you purchase a legally produced copy of the work, then it is then yours to do with as you see fit. Saying that you can't modify software that you've legally purchased is akin to saying you can't doodle in the margins of a book you bought. And no, just because the publisher decided to print "THOU SHALT NOT DOODLE IN THYN BOOK." on the first page doesn't change anything.

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:21PM (#26847643) Journal

    It's all nuances. Provided that modifying the software on your own device is considered fair use (and I would presume that unless you are violating something else like FCC regs it is), then you - personally - are not guilty of violating the DMCA. However, anyone who helps you is violating the DMCA. The DMCA is an odd law in that it specifically preserves the right to fair use, while making it illegal to assist anyone in exercising fair use.

    In this way it is the same as DVD decryption software: legal to decrypt your disc for fair use (including standard playback in licensed players and copying for backup or format shifting), not legal to sell or traffic in the software or any instructions on how to do so.

    I don't own an iPhone, primarily because the applications - especially the free (beer and speech) ones - are far more limited than for the wmobile market, and because I have an investment in wmobile software I would have to abandon if I switch. That and the iPhone can't do GPS if you're out of cell service (or couldn't as of 4 months ago when I upgraded my phone)...and that's where I need it the most.

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:21PM (#26847655)

    Nonsense. At the height of it's power Rome built a civilization that the rest of the world (at least it applied to them) couldn't dream of building. Just look at how hard it was for them to keep the barbarians out. The simple fact there was that wealth, culture, and education were part of the resource pool needed to build their society. Brute strength, numbers, and cooperation was needed to tear it down. Rome was strong in the first set needed to build their society but weaker in the resources needed to keep it safe.

    In much the same way, a very different resource pool was needed to create the iPhone versus keeping it locked down. Apple was quite well off regarding the first set but doesn't look so hot on the second.

  • by cpotoso (606303) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:21PM (#26847657) Journal
    I own an iphone because:

    1) It is a decent phone (not super, but OK). Unlocked: so I can use with the carrier of my choice (t-mobile prepaid in US, others abroad).

    2) It is a decent computer for some basic tasks

    3) I use it as my calendar and as my phone book (no other cell phone is so nice for this)

    4) A decent media player (watching movies in it on a plane is quite nice). I do not listen much to music, but I also have quite a few podcasts of "car talk" (you've gotta love these guys!).

    5) Works as a decent USB drive with some additional software.

    6) Can keep pictures and show them around in a decent screen

    7) Every now and then I can take half-decent snapshots

    8) There are some nice apps, most of the ones I have were free

    So, what's the problem? I bought the device and use it as I want, I do not give a sh*t to what apple wants me to do with it...

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:27PM (#26847747) Homepage Journal

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

    No. Let me help:

    Distributing an unauthorized derivative work may well represent a breach of copyright law.

    First sale law dictates that I am free to make whatever modifications I like to any software I've bought. The EULA attempts to form a contract with the user, so the actual legal question (IANAL but come on, we've been discussing this with the assistance of the occasional lawyer for many years now) is whether a EULA is binding. My understanding is that this is still very much up in the air. Right now it is, I believe, the fulcrum upon which the Apple vs. Psystar case rests. I think most of us understand that you're not permitted to redistribute someone else's copyrighted material absent the express permission to do so (which is why the GPL only grants freedoms and does not restrict them - at least as compared to unlicensed copyrighted media, if not material released into the public domain. But there I go on a tangent again.)

  • by atraintocry (1183485) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:31PM (#26847807)

    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.

    Depending on the circumstances, the DMCA can do exactly that. However, there are some allowances for reverse engineering and if memory serves correct there is some case law regarding cell phones specifically which says that it's OK to open them.

    I could be wrong on the second part but my point is that it's not black and white.

    This is a lot like Nintendo saying it's illegal to dump a ROM. The situation as described by written and case law is more complicated, but it serves the company's interest to *basically* lie to people, in order to fight what they see as *basically* piracy.

  • Not my newsletter (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Simonetta (207550) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:36PM (#26847895)

    thank you for your reference to this newsletter. It's not mine. I suspect that it's a parody.

    I, however, am quite serious. Economic collapse means a completely different way of dealing with the technologies and the laws covering the technology of the pre-collapse era.

    Economic collapse means that there is going to be a lot of disagreement over things like copyright and royalty payments that were accepted in the 20th-century pre-collapse era. People were willing to pay for copyright and royalties when they had money or the reasonable expectation of making money. Economic collapse means no more easy money. No more easy money means no more copyright or royalty payments. Attempts to collect scarce resources like money for pre-collapse concepts like copyright WILL be challenged in the post-collapse era. Most likely with violence.

    In the post-collapse era, the resources of the police are going to be too stretched to put everyone in jail who uses violence to protect what little that they have remaining after the collapse. And they are unlikely to imprison anyone who is actually making life in the post-collapse era easier for everyone. Such as people who are willing to adapt complex pre-collapse technology to the new reality.

    If all this sounds like a cheap distopian science-fiction book, so be it. As I said in the previous message, when even the Republicans are talking about a serious economic collapse unfolding, then you know the world is changing. The more adaptable you are to these massive changes, the better off that you will be in the coming years and decades.

    Given their current mentality, I doubt that Apple will survive long in the economic collapse that the politicians assure us is currently unfolding. The copyright and DMCA laws won't survive long either. The lawyers and courts (and Slashdot writers) will be arguing fine points and legal technicalities long after these laws cease being enforced in the real world.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:39PM (#26847943)

    You also get credit card processing. The 30% Apple takes is a fairly good deal when you get into it.

  • Mostly Improved? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bill_kress (99356) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:41PM (#26847985)

    Apple has improved it's products, but when it comes to lock-in they are still (and always have been) the kings.

    Part of it is a desire for 100% control of the platform. This has allowed them to achieve things microsoft can not (I've yet to see a windows PC that suspends or hibernates as well as any mac--yes macs hibernate, it's just perfectly invisible--unplug or yank your battery while it's suspended sometime).

    IBM wanted to lock down the PC the way Apple did the Mac--Apple just played more tricks. If IBM had been as successful as Apple, we would have a horrific, fragmented and expensive PC industry today, with no standard platform to count on. I'd guess even Linux would be out since Apple completely controls the BIOS and could (if they wanted) prevent other OSes from booting on it. IBM probably would have done that.

    Mac products just got good enough where most of us can ignore their mis-behavior, but don't think for a second they aren't the worst company out there when it comes to locking down their products.

  • by MadnessASAP (1052274) <madnessasap@gmail.com> on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:42PM (#26847999)

    No kidding eh! The occasional /. psychopaths sometime worry me. I know most of them in reality wouldn't even stand up and complain at a McDonalds about getting the wrong drink, but I wonder if maybe some of them really are THAT batshit crazy and would actually go shoot up the Apple HQ because they can't jailbreak their iPhone.

  • Re:And so it begins (Score:3, Interesting)

    by atraintocry (1183485) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:42PM (#26848007)

    So who's the old Microsoft? IBM?

    The one thing Microsoft does *not* have a monopoly on, is being a tech company that's not afraid to do or say something that in the long run is immoral. There are plenty of them. Doesn't mean they're all Microsoft.

  • by daveime (1253762) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:45PM (#26848045)

    Pardon my French, but f***ing nonsense. They have already MADE their money by selling you the un-jail-broken piece of crap in the first place. It is MY choice what or what not to put on MY device that I have paid for, and if I have to modify the underlying firmware to do so, I will.

    Buying an iPhone does not violate my freedom of choice to decide what I do with it, neither does it obligate me to ONLY ever buy software from Apple.

    You might as well have printer manufacturers telling people it is illegal to use cheaper refillable ink cartridges ... no ... wait ... bad example possibly.

  • by qazwart (261667) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:48PM (#26848089) Homepage

    You NEVER purchase a copyright of a work. You purchase the use of that work as stated on that license.

    For example, I buy a script from an author. I am not allowed to produce a play without the author's permission.

    I buy a book, I am not allowed to produce a movie based upon that book without the author's permission.

    I may rent a movie, and watch it with my friends, but I may not charge them admission.

    One of the new copyright issues we have is the unlimited amounts of work licensing. In the good old days, a work would be licensed for a book and maybe a movie that was seen in theaters. Now, it is a book, movie, DVD production, Blue-Ray disk production, streaming production, rental rights, view rights on television (broadcast), view rights on cable, syndication rights, and so forth. And we aren't even covering the derivatives such as toys and games.

    That's one reason for the confusion. I download an MP3 or a movie, and my rights may only include using it on my iPod, but not on my Zune. It's the same thing that copyrights have been doing for centuries, but the problem is that what use to be a few licensing scenarios is now hundreds.

    Not only that, but the consumer now has the means to do the copying. It was very costly to copy a book, and you certainly couldn't copy a film. But, thanks to the digitization of works, consumers can easily make duplicates. I download a song, and I want to play it on my MP3 player, my computer, my stereo, my car, my wife's MP3 player, etc.

    So, you're simply wrong about the way copyrights work. You are limited to use copyrighted works as you were licensed. That's always been the copyright holder's privileged. The problem is that for the first time in history, consumers are finding that right limiting.

  • Re:Apple Lock-in... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:53PM (#26848163)

    I was considering buying Apple products. Two years ago, I told my wife that when her laptop (with Windows XP) died, I was going to get her an Apple. Her laptop still survives, but my plan now is to get her an Asus and put Linux on it. Not because of any advances Linux has made in the past two years, but because of Apple's recent practices.

    However, I appreciate the work they have done that has improved Konqueror, and use it regularly.

  • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday February 13, 2009 @02:55PM (#26848193)

    I humbly and respectfully suggest that you consider the possiblity that 20th-century laws such as the DMCA will have little if any application in the post economic-collapse world. Whatever concepts of judicial balance that these laws attempted to provide in the era before the economic collapse will be rendered meaningless in the new post-collapse realities.

    I suggest that you adapt your own point-of-view of technology law to the possibility that all laws regarding software/firmware and reverse-engineering will be ignored in the not-to-distant future. If your business or career depends upon the enforcement of these laws, please consider expanding your career path strategy or business model to include the likelihood that these can and will not be enforced by the authorities in the manner that they are currently.

    Unlike most juvenile Slashdot comment posters, I am being serious and not sarcastic.

  • by russotto (537200) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:03PM (#26848309) Journal

    You're not purchasing the software. Almost nobody purchases software.

    Yes, I am. Looks like a sale, quacks like a sale, it's a sale. If it were a license, it would have to be established under ordinary contract law, with all those nasty legal formalities and meetings of the mind and such -- given that neither Apple (based on the Safari for Windows EULA snafu) nor most of the users ("just click Agree and the box goes away") actually reads the thing, it'd be pretty hard to establish that.

    Since the software contains controls, Apple could argue those controls are being circumvented (which is illegal under DMCA) for gaining access to protected works for infringing purposes.

    Unfortunately, you may be onto something there. According to the 2600 case, it doesn't matter whether the work was sold or not. No one argues that DVDs are licensed rather than sold. Yet the Circuit Court in the 2600 case decided that for a purchaser to circumvent the copy protection to gain access to a copy of a work _which he owned_ was a violation of the DMCA.

  • Re:Apple Lock-in... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by YerTalkingKrap (1477057) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:04PM (#26848321)
    I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. I think Apple TRIED to be involved in KHTML (as the original codebase for WebKit), but I believe they tried to force the KDE developers to accept non-disclosure agreements before being able to see Apple's changes (which kind of defeats the point of open-source).

    As far as I can tell, WebKit is now as far removed for KHTML as Mac OS X is from FreeBSD (keeping in mind Mac OS X was sort-of based on FreeBSD 5 but apple never kept up with the FreeBSD main branch).
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:06PM (#26848339) Homepage Journal

    Of course, Simonetta is absolutely correct.

    And since when was a "violation" of the DMCA illegal anyway?

    Companies like Apple do more to bestow heroic status on hackers, crackers and jail-breakers than anything done by these alleged "criminals".

    Personally, I'm overjoyed whenever I hear that another huge company's efforts to encroach on consumers' rights are defeated.

    That reminds me, it's time to send another $50 to the EFF. Fortunately, despite the overall bleak economic picture, I can afford it, and the EFF does good work to protect the rights of those of us who participate in the digital revolution (and I do not use the term "revolution" lightly).

  • by jbarr (2233) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:13PM (#26848445) Homepage

    Jailbreaking is not just about installing apps not purchased through AppStore. Jailbreaking is currently essential to unlock an iPhone's SIM. Do that, and now the user can move from AT&T to another network. I'd say that's where the real revenue loss is. Yes, there is a lot of money to be made through AppStore, but considering that each app is only a couple bucks, does that really compare to monthly and yearly phone and data minutes used on other networks?

    And as an iPod Touch user, I get stuck in the middle. Yes, Jailbreaking does let me install cracked or pirated apps, but honestly, I find that if I like a cracked app, I end up buying it through AppStore anyway. Kind of try-before-you-buy, and Apple is getting my money. And more importantly, Jailbreaking lets me install applications that Apple will NEVER release through AppStore. System extensions like WiFi toggles, cut & paste, and even excellent offline Wikipedia apps like Wiki2Touch really improve usability.

  • by tobiah (308208) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:15PM (#26848477)
    All of your examples are for business applications of a work purchased for personal use. And then you conclude derivative personal use is illegal. Besides being really bad logic, it ignores well-established concepts like "Fair Use". Also, it seems a bit early to declare how copyright works for digital media. Existing laws are far behind the technology, and there is very little legal precedent one way or the other.
  • Re:Duh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:16PM (#26848491)

    Of course breaking out of jail isn't legal.

    Until relatively recently, there was no punishment for escaping jail in Denmark. Of course you weren't allowed to break any other laws in the process, which could be hard to achieve.

  • by Tweenk (1274968) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:52PM (#26849049)

    How does one purchase software illegally? I mean, if you've purchased it, it's not illegal.

    You must be very innocent, or very stupid.

    Nowadays people just torrent, but in the old days there were places where you could go in person and buy software for a fraction of its official price. Software piracy predates the Internet.

    In my city (Warsaw) there was once a big marketplace on an abandoned sports stadium where people would trade in various illegal goods, like counterfeit clothes, pirated software, alcohol and cigarettes without excise tax, and even post-Soviet weapons. It wasn't the only place like this. You didn't even need an Internet connection to have the latest games. They were sold for about $3-$6 per CD.

    The more common form of selling pirated software today is shady OEMs preinstalling cracked versions of Windows and other programs.

    Point is, you certainly can buy software illegally, just like you can buy a stolen car.

  • by lordtoran (1063300) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:55PM (#26849097) Homepage

    I mean if you break out of jail it is obviously going to be illegal

    In the jurisdictions I know, breaking from jail by itself is NOT illegal, because pursuing freedom is a human right. However it is hardly possible to break out without committing a crime in the process (damage to property etc.). Caught fugitives can only be punished for these, and they get detention for the time out.

  • by harperska (1376103) on Friday February 13, 2009 @03:57PM (#26849143)
    Well, I know anecdotal evidence can be misleading, but I personally jailbreak for tethering. That and having custom backgrounds behind my springboard. The couple of other people I know who have jailbroken have done so for similar reasons.

    But then, I suppose I'm just like the bittorrent user who only ever downloads .iso images of linux distros. The pirates may indeed be more numerous, and ruin an otherwise legit system for the rest of us.
  • by citylivin (1250770) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:06PM (#26849255)

    "the whole point of the corporation is to exist to provide some social order and some revenue so that it can fund the private ambitions of its leaders."

    What a laugh. I havent met a CEO yet who didn't think he was improving / changing the world. CEOs are some of the most deluded people you could support/work with (followed closely by dentists). Of course they think they are a maverick leader who will bring change to the world, and hey, if their pockets get lined on the way, so much the better! The private ambitions of a corporations leaders is to make money for themselves. When they get more money than they can spend, and plenty of revenue streams and projects to fund their future (otherwise known as "security") then of course they start doing crazy things to blow the companies/their money.

    Still does not mean they are being altruistic, they just have more money than they know really what to do with.

    Id much rather have the profits from all these large corporations redistributed equally to all the workers. I think the masses are much more altruistic as a whole than individual ceos, or even their combined board.

    Bottom line, they give more because they have more. They fund crazy things because they have more "crazy" disposable income than anyone else. Of course it is good to be a CEO, for the CEO...

  • by s73v3r (963317) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .r3v37s.> on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:08PM (#26849265)
    One could argue that by buying gasoline, you are tacitly accepting and encouraging the business practices of the oil industry and the war for oil.
  • by netsharc (195805) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:16PM (#26849405)

    Then I believe the dev-team have stepped into the realm guarded by the DMCA dragon.

    Although they might be able to use the "circumvention for reasons of interoperability" defense.

  • by canajin56 (660655) on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:26PM (#26849527)

    You would, in fact, not be bound if you erased the wording. Ridiculous? Not really. If I'm sitting at a table agreeing on a contract, they hand me something, I take a pen and cross some things off, say "How about this?" and they say "OK", that's the new contract. This is no different. Do a text substitution and change both buttons to say "I don't agree". There, you didn't agree, but it installed anyways. Replace the whole text with "LOL" and agree to that, because who would disagree with that! Again, it installed anyways, you never agreed to any contract.

    Some software companies have bribed some judges and got ruling that its illegal to run software without an EULA since it makes a copy in memory to run it. However, USC 107 makes it very clear that it is legal to make copies of any copyrighted materials for the purpose of their proper use. So, CDs are legal even though the CD player has a buffer. DVD players are legal even though they have many video and audio streams, encoded and decoded, all through their memory! And computers are legal even through they have a copy of the software on the HD, and a copy in memory. Running a text-to-speech engine on a website because you are blind is legal, even if the Authors' Guild (like the BSA and RIAA and MPAA) thinks that only their favorite parts of the Copyright Act are actual law, and the rest are just sarcastic jokes put in there for a lark.

    Beyond that, several state courts (like Texas) have ruled that EULAs, being presented after purchase, aren't valid contracts, since by the time you know its not a purchase, you've already made your "lease" under false pretenses.

  • by jo_ham (604554) <joham999@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday February 13, 2009 @04:39PM (#26849739)

    In the UK they certainly care, most likely because of the huge tax on it, although you can convert and run your car on used vegetable oil.

  • by againjj (1132651) on Friday February 13, 2009 @05:22PM (#26850299)

    Hell, I didn't like what my government has been doing last number of years, so I stopped paying my taxes. Almost went to jail for that, but my hands are clean. I did not help them.

    How did you manage that? Did you avoid jail by having wages garnished or bank accounts seized, or did you actually avoid paying in the end? And what country are you in?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 13, 2009 @06:35PM (#26851033)
    Get a Nokia N810 (~$230 new, maybe $125 used), plus the $25 Motorola V3x from your random cellular carrier with an unlimited data plan and minimum voice plan - about $70/month. Bluetooth-tether from N810 to V3x (no voodoo, no HowTos, it works out of the box). Make cheap-to-free Skype or SIP calls and browse the web with Mozilla on either Wi-fi or 3G networks. Get/send your e-mail from any POP or IMAP server you please. Install whatever software your want from the repositories. Pay only what you wish to contribute to the developers. Yes, it costs about the same in dollars as an iPhone with AT&T, but you're free-as-in-speech. And you can do that today, not whenever OpenMoko gets around to it (and finds a carrier).
  • by Risen888 (306092) on Friday February 13, 2009 @07:27PM (#26851609)

    What are you 12 years old? It sounds like you think you're the clever one. The world isn't black and white, it's shades of grey and sometimes you have to compromise and work with people and organizations you don't like to make progress.

    Yep, that's the working model of our culture, all right. And it is full of fail. "Working within the system" doesn't do it. I have this argument with a particular friend of mine almost weekly, and he's a well-meaning guy as I'm sure you are, but he's wrong and so are you.

    For God's sake open a newspaper, it's all over the front page. That bit about the "economic meltdown?" Or the "climate crisis," the "energy crisis," and on and on and on? It's because people decided it would be easier to just cut a deal. Our practicality, our comprimises, our working with people and organizations we don't like, has completely fucked us.

  • Re:Jail (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hobbit (5915) on Saturday February 14, 2009 @03:16PM (#26858085)

    I guarantee no judge has heard of this chroot jail business, and even upon hearing it, if both sides agree to the terminology, the judge will weigh heavily on Apple's side if this is permitted.

    There is but one contempt of court around here and it is this: that you think a judge would remain biased even in the face of a technical explanation.

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