You’ve got to fight for your right to jailbreak

Imagine you buy a cake mix and then don’t follow the recipe on the box.  You could risk ‘sub-optimal results’ – but that is it.

How different would our world be if you were also facing jail time?

What if not following the manufacturer’s instruction – even just to add chocolate chips to the mix – meant that you could be arrested and criminally charged?

Well, that is actually quite similar to what used to happen to people who used their electronic devices in slightly different ways than what the manufacturer said they should.  For various reasons, the manufacturers of electronic devices argued that even though a person has purchased and 100% owns an electronic device, they are not allowed to add the ‘chocolate chips’ (like, say, Linux) to ‘the cake mix’ in a process so persecuted, it has been dubbed ‘jailbreaking’.

Why are the manufacturers opposed to this?  It really just boils down to a loss of control over their customer, making it harder for the companies to spy on their customers to obtain loads of data they could monetize…

Luckily, consumer (we really should say ‘citizen’) groups have won this battle:  jailbreaking smartphones became OK through an exemption in the DMCA.

A temporary exemption.

Which is about to run out…

bunnie Huang, standing shoulder to shoulder with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has drafted a letter and a petition to extend the jailbreaking exemption, both in time and in scope:

‘Three years ago, the Copyright Office agreed to create an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act so that folks could jailbreak their smartphones. But that exemption is about to expire. We need you to renew that exemption and expand it to cover jailbreaking gadgets with similar computation potential. These are all siblings to the PC, yet unlocking their potential as versatile and powerful computers is burdened with legal murkiness.’

You can sign the petition here.

Unless, of course, you don’t think people should be allowed to add chocolate chips to their cake mix…


2 Responses to “You’ve got to fight for your right to jailbreak”

  1. letterstoadyingdream Says:

    If the company has you sign a legal contract stating that you only use something for the intended purpose and you agree to it than you should be at fault but if that isn’t done and they sell it to you they can’t say anything. At the same time you should be allowed to sue them if you hurt yourself using it for something you shouldn’t. Although that shouldn’t have to be a legal contract since an instruction manual is all you should need. If I have to sign a contract saying I won’t jailbreak it in order to buy it I should have to abide by it. If I don’t want to do so I I should not buy it and they should not sell it to me as is both of our rights.

    Xan says:

    Fair enough on the contract: you sign it, you abide by it.

    But, say you buy it off the shelf – not signing anything – and there is a line somewhere in the user’s manual (inside the packaging) forbidding you to jailbreak it…

    Does that constitute ‘a contract’?

  2. letterstoadyingdream Says:

    No, since it was only in the manual you had to read afterwards but the company does have every right to void the warranty since it can be considered improper use of the product. As it is now both sides have points but they aren’t going about it the right way.

    Xanthippa says: voiding the warranty is not a problem!

    Some people were being criminally charged for jailbreaking their stuff because the manufacturers said doing this was the same as stealing their IP.

    Which it isn’t – as the courts have ruled.

    So the laws that take this into account are about to lapse – and need to be renewed and extended to all electronics.

    That is all I’m trying to say.

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