25
Jan
600px-US-CopyrightOffice-Seal.svg

This a cause I think we can all get behind. Back in 2010, the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress issued a rulemaking statement exempting smartphones and DVDs from reverse engineering laws under the DMCA. Previously, companies like Apple had used these provisions to threaten criminal prosecution (as well as civil action) against those who "jailbroke" (rooted) devices such as the iPhone (or iPad). The exemption to these penalties put in place by the Copyright Office extended to the "jailbreaking" (or, as we know it in the Android community, rooting) of all smartphones (it also extends to things like bootloader unlocking). Now, that exemption is about to expire, if the rulemaking committee does not renew it. The EFF wants your help, in the form of submitting writings to the Copyright Office explaining why the exemption should not be allowed to expire.

As an Android site, we're all about openness, and think this is a no-brainer. The EFF also wants these reverse engineering "jailbreaking" exemptions expanded to tablets and video game consoles. Since tablets have become natural extensions of the smartphone, the reasoning there is obvious. I wouldn't hold my breath on game consoles, though (Nintendo and Sony vigorously lobby to keep the status quo in place).

Anyway, check out this article over at the EFF to learn more, as well as how to submit your comments to the Copyright Office.

EFF

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Cosmic

    I thought jail break= root, and unlocked was allowing you to use any gsm provider like unlocking at&t phone to use on tmobile.

    • David Ruddock

      The term "unlock" has various meanings depending on context. SIM unlocking is what you're talking about.

      "Unlocking" the bootloader of an Android device allows custom software to be flashed to protected memory. Jailbreaking does refer to rooting, but the exemption covers bootloader unlocking, as well. Basically, any reverse engineering stemming from root access.

  • ABT Benjamins

    Here is a simply reason to extend the exemption:

    Developers (of the ROM variety in particular) rely on hardware produced in an industry where a select few companies retain a monopoly on devices.

  • L boogie

    I'm game, no way am I gonna put up with carrier/OEM bloatware on my devices, I bought it and it's only right that I do what I want with products I paid for. Meanwhile, looking forward to future custom roms and what updates/improvements they bring to the Android table therefore, willing to do my part to prolong the extension

  • http://www.facebook.com/abetsi Albert Rabuyo

    I'm confused. Which unlocking are we talking about? SIM or bootloader?

  • Spydie

    He mis-spoke. He used unlocking and jailbreaking in the same sentence, like they were the same thing on different phones. Of course he must not be a person who does these things or he'd know the difference. Jailbreaking an ios is the same as rooting an android. Both can be unlocked (unlocking the bootloader, not unlocking so you can use them on a different carrier) AFTER they are rooted or jailbroken. Unlocking the bootloader is totally different, just one more step after rooting. You can root a phone that doesn't have the bootloader unlocked (I just did it with my Asus Transformer Prime) but you can't flash new ROMs with a locked bootloader. And of course a locked bootloader has nothing to do with "unlocking" your phone to use on another carrier. Sometimes that is nothing more than calling your carrier and getting the code to do it.

    • deltaechoe

      Rooting gives you read write access to normally blocked off pieces of storage and access to administrator level system apis. Unlocking the boot loader allows you to boot with oem unsigned code. Very different

  • bobbutt

    I'm thinking specifically on the Galaxy Nexus and other officially unlocked bootloader devices there is no issue, since no hack or circumvention is required.
    I personally will only buy such devices going forward as long as they're available. Strongly support this exemption regardless, if the carriers want a true lock, they can offer a device lease or some similar crap.. It is insane to sell the device and then try to retain ownership of it by defining what can and can't be done.

  • joe

    Why can't the courts just rule this unconstitutional? There is no way in hell it won't get renewed. If it did, people would be out of jobs. Not to mention it violates our constitution. If I buy something it is MY right to do what I want to it/with it (as long as no one else is affected by it). If I want to buy and iPhone and smash it on the ground I can. If I want to completely de-gut/customize my Captivate I can. Honestly, it's not different than a car. It's saying I can't put a custom radio or engine in my car.

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