What Jailbreaking/Unlocking DMCA exception means for end users
The Library of Congress' DMCA exception for jailbreaking is big news for our community. The new ruling basically says that jailbreaking or unlocking devices is not illegal. But I think the bigger question on most people's minds is what that's going to mean for end users and the jailbreak community in general. So what does this ruling mean for you, jailbreak ninjas? Read on to find out.
Now we all know the iPhone has its shortcomings. Every smartphone does. In the iPhone world, we jailbreak to compensate. Android users may root their phones to side load apps. We also have a big issue (mainly in the US) where unlocking your phones is frowned upon. Users have cried foul for a long time. Logically, if you buy an iPhone outright in the states, you should be free to take that phone to whatever carrier you'd like. Yet they're still locked down to AT&T for state-side users.
Today's ruling is definitely a step in the right direction and a huge hurdle for groups like EFF, but how it will effect end users right "now" still remains somewhat unclear. Now keep in mind, as of now, this is strictly my opinion. What I'm taking from this is that Apple or any other phone manufacturer will not be able to sue you or take legal action for jailbreaking or unlocking your device. Does that mean they have to be okay with it or aid you in doing it? Absolutely not.
What about warranties?
In my opinion, I don't think anything will change (as of now). Apple will still have the same stance on modifying your iOS devices and the risks involved. I can't image it would be hard for apple to play off a software malfunction on user error or the fact that you downloaded an application that was not approved or isn't supported by them. What if you have a hardware issue? That should be a little different. Apple shouldn't be allowed to deny you hardware repairs solely based on the fact that you are jailbroken. I've read in forums several times that users would attempt to exchange white iPhones for hairline cracks and get turned away because their device was jailbroken. I'd really like someone at Apple to explain to me how being jailbroken caused a crack in the casing. Other users have said they swapped their phone just fine. I'm assuming this probably depends upon what store you go to and how much the genius really pays attention to the phone before performing a swap. Either way - I don't see this ruling changing the way Apple handles servicing jailbroken or unlocked devices.
Users have long been unlocking devices and taken them to other GSM carriers such as T-Mobile. If this becomes a common practice, I'm curious to see how carriers will handle that. Honestly, I don't think they will. They'll refer you to the manufacturer. And if that carrier happens to be Apple, if you don't have a valid AT&T SIM, I still think you'll have a hard time getting them to service your phone.
If unlocking becomes a standard practice are users can buy unlocked devices to take to whichever GSM carrier they'd like, then Apple would not have the software argument to hide behind, nor would any manufacturer. AT&T offers unlock codes to users who have been on contract for a specified period of time for pretty much every device in their lineup, except the most popular ones. And obviously, that includes the iPhone.
Cat & Mouse
The Dev Team and jailbreaks have long played the cat and mouse game with Apple. A jailbreak is released, a couple months later, an update to iOS is released, it breaks the jailbreak or patches the exploit. Jailbreakers go back to the drawing board and find yet another exploit. And the cycle continues. I don't see any end to this either. Apple may not be able to sue you, but they sure don't have to like it or condone it.
So my opinion? I don't think a thing will change for end users, as of right now anyways. Apple can still choose not to honor warranties, they just can't take legal action, given you aren't using a jailbreak for unlawful purposes. Around these parts, we fully support the jailbreak community, without supporting those who use it for illegal purposes. It'll be interesting to see how Apple and other manufacturers respond. But in the mean time, what do you guys think?