US Government Opens Tech/Culture

Today’s ruling is bound to get a lot of buzz, but probably for the wrong reasons. According to new rules set forth by The Library of Congress (which oversees the Copyright Office), iPhone owners can now legally “jailbreak” their device and download software that Apple/AT&T disapproves of. That will get the headlines. But we shouldn’t lose sight of this: This far-reaching ruling goes well beyond the iPhone itself and also allows (among other things) “college professors, film students and documentary filmmakers to break copy-protection measures on DVDs so they can embed clips for educational purposes, criticism, commentary and noncommercial videos.” (The quoted material comes from the AP, not the ruling itself). In short, these new guidelines give consumers greater latitude to decide how they want to use computers, gadgets and media they’ve purchased.  And they clear up some legal murkiness that has surrounded these issues, particularly within universities, for some time. A good day for government … and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which pushed for these protections.

PS Does this still mean that Apple can void your warranty if you jailbreak your iPhone? I’m not sure whether that goes away or not…

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