It’s Legal To Crack Smartphones But Illegal To Hack Tablets

The copyright laws set under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) are reviewed and revisions are made and exceptions provided every three years by the U.S. Copyright Office. The latest set of rules and guidelines have been published and under the new set of rules jailbreaking of smartphones continues to be legal but at the same jailbreaking tablets has been cited as illegal. Other things that fall under the illegal category are cracking DVDs and hacking gaming consoles. The new rules will be in effect starting from October 28, for the next three years.

The rules, however, are not that straightforward. While jailbreaking smartphones that you currently own has been termed legal, unlocking units that are bought after the end of this year will be termed illegal. Any phone that is bought from next year on can only be unlocked with the permission of the carrier. The reason cited for this revision in rules is that more unlocked phones currently exist in the market than three years ago when this rule was first formulated. Also, the Copyright says that when you buy a phone you do not own the software in it but merely license it. Thus you require the carriers permission to unlock your phone from next year onwards.

As for tablets, provision to jailbreak these devices was not provided as the Office felt the word “tablet” is not properly defined and a wide of devices, including ebook reader, gaming tablets and tablet PCs could be called a tablet. It said, “the record lacked a sufficient basis to develop an appropriate definition for the ‘tablet’ category of devices, a necessary predicate to extending the exemption beyond smartphones.”

Ripping content stored in DVDs such as music and videos for use on different devices – even when they are all owned by the same person – remains illegal. This means you cannot legally rip a movie from its DVD to watch it on your iPad. The exception to the rule is when you take a part of a video such as a documentary for the sake of review or criticism. But then again, this content should not be used for any other purpose. It is also legal “to access the playhead and/or related timecode information embedded in copies of such works and solely for the purpose of conducting research and development for the purpose of creating players capable of rendering visual representations of the audible portions of such works and/or audible representations or descriptions of the visual portions of such works to enable an individual who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing, and who has lawfully obtained a copy of such a work, to perceive the work.”


Via: Ars Technica