The Electronic Frontier Foundation explains that currently, requests to keep jailbreaking and unlocking legal must be made every three years.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) limits the circumvention of software that's designed to restrict access to copyrighted works. Unfortunately, such a blanket restriction can chill competition, free speech, and fair use. In an attempt to mitigate those harms, every three years the U.S. Copyright Office holds a rulemaking proceeding to consider exemptions to this rule.
EFF has participated in this rulemaking procedure in prior years, and has secured exemptions for device unlocking, jailbreaking, ripping videos for remix, and more. In the 2015 proceeding, we're requesting six exemptions in four separate categories: security research, as well as repairs and modifications, for cars; ripping of video from DVDs or BluRay disks, as well as online streaming services, for remixes; jailbreaking of phones and tables; and reconfiguration of video games that are no longer supported by their publisher.
Back in October 2012, the U.S. Library of Congress has ruled that jailbreaking the iPad and unlocking iPhones purchased after January 2013 was no longer legal. However, it continued to allow the jailbreaking of iPhones.
This led to a huge outcry from public, Congress got involved, and this summer President Obama signed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act into law, after it passed both the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. The bill restored the right for consumers to unlock their cell phones, including the iPhone.
Unfortunately, the bill did not permanently legalize cell phone unlocking; however, it required the Library of Congress to put the temporary exemption back in place while it decides whether or not to extend it for renewal.
The Consumers Union says, "Consumers should have the right to maintain the useful life of their mobile phones and other mobile communications devices. Congress recently reaffirmed this, by reinstating and strengthening the exemption protecting the right for owners of mobile phones to unlock them so they can be connected to different wireless networks. And at the same time, Congress also specifically directed the Registrar of Copyrights and the Librarian of Congress to consider 'extend[ing] the exemption' to include other mobile wireless communications devices, such as tablets, along with mobile phones. Consumers Union’s proposed exemption accordingly includes all hand-held mobile wireless devices that are used for essentially the same functions and in the same manner as wireless telephone handsets, including tablets. The proposed exemption will allow
consumers to circumvent technological protections measures controlling software and firmware that
lock those devices to particular wireless communications networks."
Let's hope these exemption requests are successful. Please follow iClarified on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or RSS for updates.
EFF Jailbreaking Exemption Request [Consumers Union Mobile Device Unlocking Exemption Request] [via Simon]