The U.S. Copyright Office Makes It Easier to Repair and Jailbreak Phones

Takeaway: The U.S. Copyright Office has made it legal for you to jailbreak new phones for development and repair purposes.

The U.S. Copyright Office has made some changes under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) to allow for users to jailbreak devices and modify them on their own. This rule comes about because of the notoriously strict rules under section 1201 of the DMCA where it was “unlawful to circumvent technological measures used to prevent unauthorized access to copyrighted works.” The new rules are much more in line with the notion that users are allowed to “reverse engineer” products without infringing the copyrights of others.

Under the new law, users are allowed to unlock new phones as opposed to just old used phones. This would come in handy if you wanted to buy a new phone without purchasing a new carrier contract. You could then use the phone with whatever carrier you want as opposed to being locked to a specific carrier.

The new law also allows people or service providers to repair “smartphones,” “home appliances,” and “home systems.” This opens up the door for small businesses to provide repair services for smartphones without getting into legal trouble with the manufacturer of the product.