At the dawn of 2009, we reported on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's petitioning of the US Copyright Office to amend the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, to allow iPhone users to jailbreak their phones. So what's happened in the last 12 months?
A final decision by the USCO that was originally expected for last October is said to be pending in the next few weeks.
On one side, of course, is Apple, fiercely protective of their iPhone innards — as well as the 30% kickback they get for every app sold through iTunes. Standing shoulder to shoulder with them is the upper crust of the content industry itself, who view jailbreaking as opening the door to rampant piracy of their apps.
On the other side of the line are the app developers who, for whatever reason, CAN'T get their apps into the App Store, and the users who don't want to be told what they can or can't install on the phone they paid good money to own. It's the latter — up to 10% of the 40 million iPhones in existence, according to Cydia creator Jay Freeman — who flock to his store, the Dev-Team's blog, and anywhere they can take back a little control.
While the Copyright Office has issued exemptions to the DCMA in the past, it's also denied common-sense fair usage requests (i.e. backup copies of DVD's you've purchased). With so much at stake, securing a legal exemption to jailbreaking is going to be an uphill battle. (It also raises the question: if jailbreaking and pwnage remains illegal, will that mean we will have to remove all our jailbreaking guides?)