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Jailbreaking your iPhone is now legal

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In a landmark decision for all mobile devices, it is now completely legal to jailbreak your phone. This means downloading software not affiliated or purchasable through the device. This means loosening the iron claw of Apple (if only a slightly). From CNN:

What does the Copyright Office’s ruling mean?

The short answer is that jailbreaking your iPhone or other mobile device will no longer violate a controversial federal copyright law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA. Bypassing a manufacturer’s protection mechanisms to allow "handsets to execute software applications" is now permitted.

But in practice, the actual impact of that portion of the decision may be limited.

Impact: you won’t get sued for downloading outside software. Actual impact: Apple can still revoke your warranty if they discover outside software (though they’ve never actually sued anyone for jailbreaking their device prior to the DCMA decision, anyway).

Section 2(c) of the Apple iPhone Software License Agreement (PDF) bans any attempt to "modify" the iPhone software or to reverse-engineer it.

What that means is that Apple can still legally — if it chooses — protect its phones from jailbreaking. The contract formed between the user and Apple (and the user and the wireless carrier) when the iPhone owner agrees to the user licensing agreement is binding, says Tom Sydnor, a senior fellow with the Progress and Freedom Foundation who takes an expansive view of copyright law.

Still, it’s a coup of principle. Oh, and under the new provision, it’s now legal to extract clips from DVD’s! Great news for teachers who can now freely copy and distribute educational materials to their students, and for people who just want to rip DVD’s.