Consumers waiting for Apple to open up their iPhones to Verizon, T-Mobile and other carriers outside of AT&T now have some legal cover for taking matters into their own hands.
Newly published exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act now make it legally permissible for consumers to “unlock” their iPhones for use on other carriers.
So reads the exemption:
“Computer programs, in the form of firmware or software, that enable used wireless telephone handsets to connect to a wireless telecommunications network, when circumvention is initiated by the owner of the copy of the computer program solely in order to connect to a wireless telecommunications network and access to the network is authorized by the operator of the network.”
While the rule amendments are a victory to the Electronic Frontier Foundation and consumers alike, don’t expect waves of users to all of a sudden start “jailbreaking” their devices. For starters, Apple never really enforced jailbreaking to the legal letter and prosecuted anybody for opening an iPhone to another network. The company does, however, void warranties with this practice and will continue to moving forward.
Alternate app stores also legal
While Apple’s App Store has nearly 250,000 apps for consumers to choose from, enthusiasts who reject Apple’s closed method of approving apps will, as part of the amendment, be able to access additional stores more easily.
Notes the exemption:
"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."
Expect rogue or independently operated application stores to take advantage of the new legal opening to exhibit their wares to iPhone users. More significantly is how, if at all, Apple’s own App Store will evolve to the changes.