So you want to jailbreak your shiny new iPhone 4. The Copyright Office in the US has made it legal to unlock your phone, but getting a clear answer on the issue in Australia is easier said than done
Well, there's no shortage of information and tutorials that have sprung up on the internet in recent weeks. The renewed interest in jailbreaking the iPhone has come about because the Copyright Office in the US has made it legal for users to unlock their iPhones, and other smartphones, in the US.
It's worth noting that the US decision was made in regard to copyright and fair use provisions. It doesn't mean that there aren't other laws that may make it illegal to jailbreak an iPhone. And it's still unclear if it's legal to unlock the iPhone in Australia.
Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA) believes there's no definite answer about whether it's illegal to jailbreak an iPhone because the issue hasn't been tested in Australia. EFA chair Colin Jacobs told Investigator that "it may be that distributing tools and information to jailbreak an iPhone would be illegal in Australia under laws that protect technological protection measures from being circumvented."
However, Jacobs suggests that some restrictions, such as locking the phone to a particular carrier, for example, might actually contravene the Trade Practices Act. "If Apple decided to crack down on jailbroken devices, though, it's hard to say what legal strategy they might pursue."
Apple has defended its restrictive policy and in a statement on its support site. The company said that "unauthorised modification" of the iOS is a violation of the enduser license agreement and the company may deny service where unauthorised software has been installed. But neither the company nor the law seems to be clear on exactly what constitutes unauthorised modification.
We approached the ACCC for clarification, however it wasn't able to comment directly on whether there is a copyright issue which prevents modification of a smartphone operating system. It did advise that if a modification does not cause damage to the smartphone, the consumer will continue to have a right to warranty protection if the phone malfunctions.
Are you planning on jailbreaking your iPhone? What will you do once the iPhone is unlocked? Add your comment below.