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Jailbreaking Could Soon Become Illegal Again – Here’s How You Can Help Prevent It

Jailbreaking Could Soon Become Illegal Again – Here’s How You Can Help Prevent It

Jailbreaking was formally declared legal by U.S. federal law on July 26th of 2010, but according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, that may be about to change, as the copyright office is once again entertaining arguments from manufacturers against jailbreaking.

From the EFF:

“Smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles are powerful computers with lots of untapped potential. Yet many of these devices are set up to run only software that’s been approved by the manufacturer. Modifying a device to run independent software – known as jailbreaking – is important to programmers, enthusiasts, and users. But jailbreaking creates legal uncertainty. Some device manufacturers claim that jailbreaking violates Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which carries stiff penalties.”

Considering that jailbreaking has already been ruled as legal in the U.S., why is the EFF so worked up? Apparently the 2010 ruling on jailbreaking is set to expire this year. Unless the exemption is renewed, jailbreaking will once again revert into a legally questionable state, ripping power away from consumers to take control of their devices under threat of legal action.

There is something each of us can do to prevent this from happening, however. The U.S. Copyright Office needs to be aware of how consumers feel about jailbreaking and why it is important – and why consumers should have the right to choose what to do with devices they already own.

iDownloadBlog provides a link to the Copyright Office’s comment board, and gives the following suggestions to include when submitting your comments:

  • Which jailbreaking exemption are you supporting—smartphones/tablets, video game consoles, or both?
  • What’s your background (are you a developer, hobbyist, user, independent researcher, etc.)?
  • What device do you want to ensure you have the legal authority to jailbreak?
  • What limitations would you face if you weren’t able to jailbreak?

Comments should be marked as class “5″ and are due by 5 PM ET on February 10.

If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to send in your comments sooner rather than later – it’s an important step we can all take to help protect consumer freedom and prevent device manufacturers from dictating how we use our smartphones and tablets.

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