Rooting your Android Phone No Longer a Crime!

On balance, the Register concludes that when one jailbreaks a smartphone in order to make the operating system on that phone interoperable with an independently created application that has not been approved by the maker of the smartphone or the maker of its operating system, the modifications that are made purely for the purpose of such interoperability are fair uses.

And with this quote, it is no longer illegal to jailbreak or root a device in America.

The above quote is from the National Register of Copyrights, whose job is to listen to arguments about how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is unfair every three years. Usually the official listens, and then says, “Too bad, nothing changes, see you in three years.”. This time around however, there were some significant decisions passed down.

1. Smart-phones:  Jail-breaking and rooting smart-phones is no longer illegal, as it does not alter the SALE of the phones, or really qualify as an act of piracy in itself. Up front, this ruling was squarely directed at Apple and the iPhone. Apple was arguing that jail-breaking is illegal, and a copyright infringement since the act actually uses small bits of Apple code. The Register disagreed since it was such a small portion that was being used. Regardless of who it was targeted against, there is now no legal ramifications of people rooting their handsets to be able to use applications that need root to function.

2. E-Books:  Kindle had to DRM and lock down the ability to have e-books read to their Kindle and Kindle app users because publishers were saying that this functionality cuts into their sales. The Register disagrees, and gives users an option. If the publisher offers no audio book of the book you are trying to listen to, you can crack the DRM on your e-book to make it happen. How long until we see it included in our Kindle app on Android? No idea, but it would be a cool thing to have!

There were several other decisions made that were good for the consumer, check them all out and their explanations at

  • daniel

    OMG THIS IS AMAZING!!!….but wait, for carriers like Verizon, won't it still void all warranties??

  • But what would it do to the warranty?

    • Danny

      This article has nothing to do with warranties, only the legality of rooting. As far as warranty is concerned, rooting your phone is like removing the water-damage indicator. Neither action is illegal (thanks to this ruling), but both will void your warranty. I don't see that ever changing.

  • Omari

    This doesn't surprise me in the least. It makes no sense that such a law even exist seeing that Android is version of Linux, and the GNU manifest or the Copy-Left "law" clearly states that one can sell the OS if they want as long as they give credit to the originator of the source (Google), and Google can give the source to the consumer to modify and pass along to others. Isn't that what freeware is? You shouldn't have to be bogged down by a contract when the "law" states you can do whatever you want with it. Please correct me if I'm wrong…

    • Yuri Andropov

      It has nothing to do with copyright as you're talking about. It has to do with encryption to prevent copyright violations. Under the DMCA circumventing the encryption was illegal. This ruling carves out some important exceptions. Not everything on your Android device is GNU. The kernel is and a lot of the software, but there is a lot of non-GNU software and proprietery software like device drivers on your phone that Google does NOT give source for. Remember the Cyanogen/Google Apps fracas a while ago? Most freeware is free in a "as in beer" sense but not in a "as in speech" sense. Download the average Windows freeware program and you will most likely see some sort of EULA that you will have to agree with before installing and using the software. You are technically still bound by the terms of the contract (it's still unknown whether an EULA has the full force of a contract legally) you agreed to when you installed the software.

      This is a good ruling, but I was kind of hoping that there would be some sort of explicit backup or format-shifting allowance in the new rules as well.

  • This’s good news to 3rd patry company, like ifunia, who declared they are dedicated in creating affordable and easy multimedia software to simplify your digital life.

  • yeah but google were nice, and unlike apple, want _you_ to own your phone. the most they did was send a C&D to cyanogen, but he was (kind of unintentionally) pirating apps. thats why androi dis open source.

  • Tyler

    if you use z4root you can easily unroot your phone.
    ive had mine rooted and had a replacement phone sent to me twice now and i just unroot it before i send it in and its fine.

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