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U.S. government makes jailbreaking, unlocking and ripping DVDs legal

The U.S. Government Library of Congress Copyright Office announced today new policy changes that let owners of electronic devices break security protections within the device to allow non-authorized code and programs to be run on the operating system.

The decision came earlier today as The Library of Congress Copyright Office reviews and authorizes exemptions for electronic devices and copyright material to ensure that the current law allows for lawful use of non-infringing use of copyright-protected material.

This is fantastic news for everyone, especially iPhone users. The law now makes jailbreaking and unlocking of devices, like the iPhone, legal in the United States, allowing for unauthorized code and programs like Cydia to be run on the device without warranting criminal prosecution. The change will allow for cell phone owners to legally “unlock” their devices for use with other available carriers.

Not only is the law affecting how cell phone owners may use their devices, but college professors, film students and documentary filmmakers may use tools that break copy-protection to use media without legal prosecution.

The list of items includes:

  • Allow owners of used cell phones to break access controls on their phones in order to switch wireless carriers.
  • Allow people to break technical protections on video games to investigate or correct security flaws.
  • Allow college professors, film students and documentary filmmakers to break copy-protection measures on DVDs so they can embed clips for educational purposes, criticism, commentary and noncommercial videos.
  • Allow computer owners to bypass the need for external security devices called dongles if the dongle no longer works and cannot be replaced.
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