Copyright Office mulls 'jailbreaking' exemption

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Jailbreaking an iPhone, for example, enables users to download applications that are not in Apple's iTunes store and allows the phone to operate on unauthorized networks. 

In testimony before the Copyright Office on Tuesday, Jesse Feder, director of international trade and intellectual property for the Business Software Alliance (BSA), urged the Copyright Office to scrap its protections for jailbreaking, arguing the practice enables piracy.

"Jailbreaking is a precondition for installing pirated software,” he said. “Technological protection measures are central to a distribution system that benefits consumers, independent app developers and third-party content creators, as well as developers of mobile operating systems."

Feder said consumers have a "vast array" of choices that work with devices' built-in controls and shouldn't resort to jailbreaking their devices to open up unauthorized features. 

But the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the Copyright Office to expand its protections for jailbreaking.

"The DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement. But instead it can be misused to threaten creators, innovators and consumers, discouraging them from making full and fair use of their own property," EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said in a statement last year after the EFF filed comments with the Copyright Office. "Hobbyists and tinkerers who want to modify their phones or video game consoles to run software programs of their choice deserve protection under the law."