Library of Congress to legalize jailbreaking

By Tomas Monzon  |  Oct. 28, 2015 at 5:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- The Library of Congress issued new rules Wednesday allowing customers to legally customize their digital devices beyond manufacturer's limits.

The practice is called jailbreaking and has been restricted in the past by manufacturers on the grounds of copyright protection.

The new rules will allow smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, wearable devices, smart TVs and automobile software to be legally altered.

Jailbreaking video game consoles, e-readers, laptops, desktop computers and handheld gaming devices is still prohibited based on the 2012 Library of Congress finding that "console jailbreaking is closely tied to video game piracy."

The legislation takes the form of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA"), allowing people who "engage in non-infringing uses of certain classes of such works" to jailbreak them.

The Library of Congress has powers related to copyright protection, including the right to make exemptions to DMCA. The jailbreak exemptions will go into effect in 2016 and will be re-evaluated in future meetings.

The logic behind the exemptions is that companies have used the argument of copyright violations to restrict access to the workings of a device even when no copyright infringement is taking place.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation was successful in adding motor vehicles to the list of devices with exemptions. The group said companies and individuals alike should be able to bypass vehicle restrictions imposed by their manufacturers.

The Library of Congress said hacking a car's internal software is now permissible for "good faith security research" and "lawful modification."

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