Jailbreaking and Rooting Phones is Legal Till 2015, Unlocking Isn’t – Says EFF

An important question of whether Jailbreaking or Rooting phones or unlocking carrier locked phones is legal or illegal gets a clarification from Electronic Frontier Foundation in a recent article published on EFF website.

What’s the current situation?

As we all heard, a right to unlocking phones and using them on other carriers is no more protected in U.S. and mobile phones purchased after January 26, 2013 should must have a permission from their carriers to be able to unlock. Failing which, violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”)

Regarding Jailbreaking and Rooting Phones

Last year EFF actively asked and managed to keep jailbreaking legal in 2012 through available powers at U.S. Copyright Office and the Library of Congress for creating exemptions. Such exemption overrides the DMCA’s right to ban such activities.

Now, through these exemptions – Jailbreaking and Rooting is legal or say, is permitted through the year 2015 before the matters go to the court for hearing again. Which is a pleasing news for sure.

Regarding Unlocking Phones

The same time last year, many consumer unions and smaller wireless carriers requested a similar exemption for unlocking phones which then was granted by The Copyright Office but the breathing period allotted for this specific exemption expired with the end of last week.

However, if you read through the court’s PDF – it says that DMCA is misused by electronics makers against digital locks where the DMCA law is mainly to protect creative works. Such carriers are showing concerns over ‘piracy’ of their software on devices but, the real issue for them is the people minting profits after reselling the subsidized phones in the market.

It’s very unclear at the moment of the outcome until the matters reach to the court.

Can carriers sue a user?

Yes and No – both. It’s highly unlikely to see carriers suing each user or filling mass lawsuits but their focus is certainly over the businesses offering unlock services and reselling subsidized phones.

The suggested penalties are too strict such as:  Fine up to $2,500 per unlocked phone in a civil suit, and $500,000 (or five years in prison) in a criminal case if unlocking was done for commercial benefits.

Well, the entire episode is in grey area right now and we are not completely free to do anything with a device we own.

What’s your thought? Do share with us through comments and meanwhile enjoy honeymoon period of Jailbreaking and rooting.


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