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.
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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 arstechnica.com