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U.S. government rules you can legally jailbreak an iPhone, but not an iPad

by Doug Drinkwater

October 26 2012

The U.S. Librarian of Congress has updated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 1998 to rule that jailbreaking is acceptable on iPhones, but not yet on iPads and other tablets.

In the new ruling, which is effective from October 28 for a period of three years, the decision was upheld to legalize unlocking smartphones, but a similar decision was not reached for tablets deemed ‘broad' and 'ill-defined’.

What the Congress (acting on behalf of the U.S. Copyright Office) meant by this is that tablets today can still be confused with eReaders, handheld video game devices or even a laptop computer.

Due in part to this, it was ruled that there is insufficient basis for developing a definition for tablets, which is required in order to apply a jailbreaking exemption.

Exemptions were however pushed through for eBooks when providing access to those with disabilities, while ripping DVDs is permissible only if used for parts in a documentary video, in a non-commercial video or for education use by college students and faculty. The act will be reviewed again in 2015.

Jailbreaking is essentially a term for modifying Apple’s iOS software and has become a popular pastime for those disillusioned by Apple’s approach to approving apps to the App Store.

However, while jailbreaking remains popular, recent studies have stressed that such actions increase the likelihood of your device being attacked by malware.

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