While scanning through our sickeningly huge RSS feed, we stumbled across a story from the Washington Post talking about how iPhone jailbreaking is a big business for some. They point to the story of a George Mason University student who claims to earn $50K a year by jailbreaking people's iPhones with an ad he posts on Craigslist.
They do mention some interesting stuff, but we can't help to feel that some of the article is misguided. While we are all jailbreakers ourselves, and we post how to articles with every new jailbreak we can, we don't know about the idea of jailbreaking for profit and posting an ad on Craigslist. While the article strives to keep a neutral tone, it definitely seems to glorify turning jailbreaking into a business. Believe us, we know people who do that ourselves. A jailbreak and unlock are easy enough for anyone with enough knowledge to sync their device to iTunes to accomplish.
The article does mention one of the benefits of jailbreaking as tethering without having to pay AT&T's extra fee. However, that may change as we heard reports last month that AT&T was sending out emails acknowledging the fact that they know users are tethering and not paying the fee–jailbreak or not. We didn't receive the email ourselves, so it's hard to confirm at this point.
Still, the rules of jailbreaking aren't entirely clear. While the Library of Congress did rule jailbreaking legal, that doesn't mean they can't come after someone. Look at the Sony vs Geohot case. We've seen breakdowns before and regardless of how we may feel, the whole "it's mine so I can do what I want" defense may not hold up in court.
The most simple way to put it was a CNET FAQ that basically said something to the effect of: Jailbreaking may be declared legal, but by agreeing to Apple's terms of service (that long thing you may not have read) while first activating your iPhone basically is saying that you will play by Apple's rules. In short, we have agreed to a contract with Apple saying we will play their game, their way.