Android Central

Jailbreaking or rooting your smartphone is currently "legal" under Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but that exemption is set to expire in 2012.  The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) is looking for help and support to keep it that way, and they would like people to contact the US Copyright office and express their opinion.  They are offering up a handy set of questions and concerns readers can use in their appeal to the copyright office, and have done as much as they can to streamline the process and make it painless, with direct links and a petition.  

The idea behind it all is that once we pay our hard-earned money for our expensive electronic toys, they are ours to do with as we please.  As long as safety regulations are met, and we don't do anything to adversely affect our cellular carrier, we should be able to do anything we wish.  It's a great idea, and it's a shame that this even requires an exemption in the DMCA.

The DMCA has been used against people who hack game consoles, and used against people trafficking cell phones, but has anyone ever been prosecuted for rooting their smartphone?  I've searched the net for a few days, and every time I find something that sounds promising, it ends up being more than just someone jailbreaking their iPad or rooting their Bionic.  Yeah, carriers and manufacturers probably hate it, and we can't blame them, but I don't see a case like HTC vs. Jerry Hildenbrand for rooting his Wildfire S getting much traction in a court of law.  Unfortunately, we can't trust things will stay this way in a world full of companies like Microsoft and Apple.

It's absolutely ridiculous that we would require some sort of waiver to be allowed to mess up our own hardware.  It's even more ridiculous that carriers and device makers have acted in ways to put the fear of prosecution in us so we want an exemption in the first place.  It's mine.  If you want to tell me what to do with it, you need to pay me for it.  Until then, leave me the hell alone and let me enjoy my toys.

Hit the link below, and do your part to make sure the Copyright Office does the right thing.

EFF: Jailbreaking is not a crime

Youtube link for mobile viewing

Reader comments

EFF working to keep jailbreaking legal, wants your help


Voiding our warranties isn't enough for these people? This is why the government shouldn't be involved in anything; the misconception that making new laws and regulations has any effect on curbing piracy. Companies just have to be more clever. Netflix, Steam, and Hulu curbed piracy by making content more available...I'm sure the phone industry can think of something that doesn't thrash our freedom of owning property that we buy.

Of course its not enough for them. Those of us who are rooted can delete the crapware that carriers put on. So they dont get as much money from app makers. Those of us who are rooted arent forced to get a new phone just to upgrade to the newest version of the OS, so they (and the hardware manufacturers) lose money there too. Its not about whether people can steal copyrighted material, its about forcing us to follow their model where the consumer loses.

I would love it if the laws worked in favor of the end user. It should be illegal for them to void our warranty for rooting and ROMing our phones instead of them being able to sue us for doing so.

I hate this having to beg for an exemption every few years.

What is really needed is a supreme court decision that says what you buy is yours, period.

I say they can void I really warranty for ROMing our phones but in that area we the user can do some real damage and screw up our phones and brick them.
Rooting we should not be able to brick our phones as the things that keep use from over clocking and what not are still not allowed.

There is a law, it's called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1976. Unless the warranty the company issues specifically states that gaining root access to your phone will void your warranty they can't deny coverage.

The only way that the warranty can be void is if you cause damage to the phone due to your own actions. Even then only the damage caused by you would not be under warranty. The warranty would still be valid for the rest of the phone.

I can't believe that people still have no idea that these consumer protections have been been around for over 35 years. There's no argument on the protections that are available under Magnuson-Moss.

I am so glad someone is doing something about this.. We bought our devices. We should be allowed to do whatever we want with them. But of course, they don't care. They want to do whatever they can to make as much money as they can. Damn greedy people. It really grinds my gears that they actually want to make it illegal for us to do what we want with our devices, that we paid our hard-earned money for.

"The idea behind it all is that once we pay our hard-earned money for our expensive electronic toys, they are ours to do with as we please."

That's just's getting kind of hard to find people who still believe in private property.

Agreed. The annoying thing is those who don't understand it probably will draw the conclusion that we're practicing voodoo. Honestly, custom romming is comparable to installing Linux/Unix or any other OS on your computer. Just on a more customizable scale.

I can't tell if that Android has joined a prison gang and is making a gang sign or is just chilling in his cell super hardcore.

Yes, making it illegal is too far to go. Let the market take care of this. If too many people root their phone and brick it and the carriers have to replace them (because they can't prove they were rooted, I imagine), the carriers will just raise cost of phones and/or plans to cover that.

Carriers could add an extra fee for "software maintenance" or "OS reinstallation" for rooted phone repairs -- this would be a fair way for them to avoid additional costs without limiting end users. Most people would be deterred by an extra fee, some few will root anyway.

Is it even possible to brick an Android? I thought I did at first, but realized I can backup from recovery. Now Blackberries on the other hand, I bricked that A LOT.

Like the law would really stop everyone from rooting and modding, i think not.

To Jerry: just curious, what would Android Centrals position be on allowing rooting instructions in the forums if rooting actually became illegal?


The law would probably never pursue those who rooted, at least not specifically, but they would go after those that created and facilitated the root methods, probably at the request of manufacturers. If you want to drum up a little fear, you might start telling your friends that police will do random phone checks at roadblocks ;)

Next thing you know car manufacturers will be prosecuting us for modifying our cars to our liking! I buy my devices not rent them!

I can't see much wrong with companies saying "ok, you messed with it, it's your problem" and voiding warranty. Even though the consumer can benefit from customization and added functionality, it is not how they intended their product to be used. Rooting does not steal from anyone or get you anything for free that you couldn't get otherwise. The example with cars above is a good one. Making it illegal to root isn't exactly going to make someone skip merrily down to their carrier and pick up the latest phone because they are totally bummed out that their phone isn't the latest model.

Does this really even affect android due to the fact that it is open source software? Either way I think they should keep the exemption.