We all know that it is illegal to circumvent digital rights management schemes under the Digital Millennium Copyright. However in 1998 Congress passed the DMCA bill which gave the Librarian of Congress power to grant exemptions to this ruling. The latest of these, to be in force for 3 three years, were revealed on Thursday.
You can jailbreak an iPhone 5 but a tablet like the iPad Mini is a different story
From now and up to late 2015 there are to be five categories in circumvention to be allowed under the rules of the Librarian. This happens to be one less than the batch of current exemptions, announced in July of 2010. The new ones will start in effect from 28th October.
This new batch will illustrate the arbitrary ways of the exemption process of the DMCA. For the next three years it will be legal to jailbreak phones like the iPhone 5, however the same doesn’t apply to tablets like the iPad Mini explains ArsTechnica.
If you purchase an iPhone 5 before January 2013 you will be able to unlock it, but not those you buy after this date. Another change is that it will now be legal to rip a DVD to take an excerpt from it to use in a documentary, however you cannot play it on an iPad Mini or for that matter any tablet. While none of the distinctions seem to make much sense, it is Congress that should take the blame for this as opposed to the Librarian of Congress.
The first of the rulings applies to any literary works that are electronically distributed and which are protected by measures which prevents the enabling of a read aloud function, or which interferes with any screen reader, other applications or technologies classed as assistive. Works must have been bought through a legitimate source to ensure that the rights owner is remunerated.
As AT explains, what this new ruling means is that circumvention is allowed of “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute lawfully obtained software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the telephone handset.” In short this means that you can jailbreak an iPhone 5, as it was under the rules of 2010.
However when it comes to the iPad Mini it is a different story. In this case the Librarian “found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets,’ notwithstanding the significant distinctions among them in terms of the way they operate, their intended purposes, and the nature of the applications they can accommodate. This for example could be a device for e-book reading, which might be classed as a tablet; the same could apply to a video game that is hand held or even a laptop.
At this moment in time, there are numerous hackers working on a possible untethered iOS 6 jailbreak for iOS 6. Based on these rulings, it can be applied to the iPhone 5 but if it were to be used on an iPad Mini or iPad 4, it would be considered illegal.