Remember when the Obama Administration was going to undo all the attacks on civil liberties that were perpetrated under the Bush Administration? Guantanamo shut down, DOMA repealed, no more secret prisons or eavesdropping, etc. None of that has happened, obviously, but the most important institution within the executive branch — the Copyright Office — recently struck a blow for Freedoms everywhere, by allowing iPhone users to “jailbreak” their phones. (Breaking out of actual jails is still illegal, however.)
The Electronic Freedom Foundation, which is an actual good crusading organization for unfettered liberty on the Internet (i.e., p0rn), trumpeted their triumph in this press release:
The first of EFF’s three successful requests clarifies the legality of cell phone “jailbreaking” — software modifications that liberate iPhones and other handsets to run applications from sources other than those approved by the phone maker. More than a million iPhone owners are said to have “jailbroken” their handsets in order to change wireless providers or use applications obtained from sources other than Apple’s own iTunes “App Store,” and many more have expressed a desire to do so. But the threat of DMCA liability had previously endangered these customers and alternate applications stores.
In its reasoning in favor of EFF’s jailbreaking exemption, the Copyright Office rejected Apple’s claim that copyright law prevents people from installing unapproved programs on iPhones: “When one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses.”
So, all you people who just bought iPhone 4s and are wishing that you could install all those sexxxy apps rejected from the App Store: Rejoice! You won’t go to jail for this, though if you accidentally reduce it to a fused metal lump of porn, don’t go crying to Apple for a refund.
But is all Free, electronically? Maybe not! Al Franken urged the nerds at the Netroots conference to fight for Net Neutrality, because otherwise the three companies that will soon control all corporate media will allow some websites to load more quickly than others! Your Wonkette would not be able to afford the bribes necessary for smooth Internet functioning, so please petition your elected officials on this matter at once. Only when you have achieved this task should you start installing unauthorized smut on your iPhone. [EFF/Huffington Post]