Library of Congress adds DMCA exception for jailbreaking or rooting your phone

This is a wild one, and we're still parsing through the announcement, but on the surface it looks like the Library of Congress has added new anti-circumvention exceptions to the DMCA that, among other things, allow people to tweak their handsets for the purpose of installing legally obtained software -- known as jailbreaking in iOS land, and rooting in the Android / webOS world. Check out the full statement from the Librarian of Congress, which is mostly an update of existing exceptions on record, after the break, but here's the primary excerpt:
Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.
Now, before all you EFFers go all totally wild (although it's undoubtedly a win for the EFF line of thinkingon this issue), you should know that this in no way requires Apple to jailbreak your phone for you, or lay down its arms in this ongoing fight. Basically, they just can't sue you for the specific act of breaking their protections, but there's nothing stopping them from putting those protections in there in the first place, or for suing you for an infringement not covered in this exception -- like distributing Apple code in a non-Apple-approved way, or installing illegal or pirated software. Not that any of you jailbreakers would ever do that. What's more, the DMCA still broadly forbids distributing to the public any "technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof" that's primarily designed to break access controls, so Apple can always go after the Dev Team directly -- and we'd still keep those dreams of opening Joe's Jailbreak Hut on ice for now.

On a more minor note, the language pertaining to unlocking a handset to work on another wireless network has also been expanded from "firmware" in 2006 to "firmware or software" in the 2010 revision. Also, and very exciting for the YouTube set, the section pertaining to cracking a DVD video and excerpting scenes for commentary or criticism has been expanded beyond educational use into documentary and non-commercial applications.
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