Jailed for jailbreaking: The new law could land you in the slammer

By Mark Gibbs, Network World |  Mobile & Wireless, iphone jailbreak, iPhone unlocking

But as problematic as jailbreaking can be technically, it is even more problematic legally, and in the U.S. the legality of jailbreaking is rather complicated while in, for example, Canada the Canadian Copyright Act makes jailbreaking a crime.

In the U.S. there is, however, a new legal issue that makes jailbreaking potentially a huge risk: Once a cellphone is jailbroken it can be "unlocked," meaning it can be used with any carrier, and that has just become a crime.

The wretched Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) made it illegal to use hardware or software to remove copyright protection from copyrighted works. The DMCA has provisions for granting exceptions and these are managed by the Library of Congress. The LoC granted an exception to unlocking cellphones because unlocking has nothing to do with copyright. But, the forces of big business applied the political thumbscrews and, as of Jan. 26, due to prodding by "CTIA -The Wireless Association," the Library of Congress revised its position and eliminated that exemption for phones purchased after 2012.

Now, should you decide to jailbreak and then unlock your own brand new cellphone -- one that you own outright -- you could be taken to court and fined. And if you are one of the many businesses offering unlocking services or software, you could find yourself facing criminal charges under the DMCA subsection 1204 "Criminal offenses and penalties":

(a) IN GENERAL.Any person who violates section 1201 or 1202 willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain

(1) shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and

(2) shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense

So, jailbreaking an iDevice could void the warranty on the device and violate a copyright law depending on the country you're in, as well as get you fined and even sent to jail. You could be jailed for jailbreaking.

Gibbs is a free man in Ventura, Calif., and plans to stay that way. Confess your lawlessness to gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter and App.net (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.


Originally published on Network World |  Click here to read the original story.
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