It’s Legal For You to Unlock Your iPhone But Not Your iPad. Huh?

What a crazy world we live in, thanks to the copyright police. An article over on Ars Technical shows just how screwed up our copyright system is here in the U.S., thanks to the DMCA. One example – it is legal to jailbreak your iPhone, but not your iPad.

Under the DMCA, the Librarian of Congress has the authority to grant exemptions under the DMCA. Ars Technica sums up some of the zaniness:

For the next three years, you’ll be allowed to jailbreak smartphones but not tablet computers. You’ll be able to unlock phones purchased before January 2013 but not phones purchased after that. It will be legal to rip DVDs to use an excerpt in a documentary, but not to play it on your iPad.

One other change to current law is that it won’t be legal for you to unlock a phone that you purchase after January 2013.

Although I believe that content creators deserve to be compensated for their work, I agree with the Ars Technica take on the issue, which points out that copyright law is often used as a pretext for limiting competition.

What is your take on the issue?

Jailbreaking now legal under DMCA for smartphones, but not tablets [Ars Technica]

Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. Hi, Evan! I think it’s crap. But then again, if you think about it, that’s how copyrights were invented: to protect the interests of the creators. How can someone create something and make money from it, if the competition creates something similar :) So it’s bad only for the end user, not for the provider.

  2. I am not from the US and might have a wrong point on this as I have no knowledge about the Librarian of Congress and its position and function in the law making process, but this sounds crazy. Rights get granted and revoked to regulate a market, like subsidies? Is this kind of behavior common?

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