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iPhone jailbreaking legal, iPad not

The latest round of exemptions added to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) may be problematic for iOS owners who unlock or jailbreak their device, according to a report in Ars Technica. Signed into law in 1998, the DMCA bans the production and dissemination of technology designed to circumvent digital rights management systems. This broad-based law gives the Librarian of Congress the power to add exemptions to the law every three years. The latest exemptions were announced on Thursday and will go into effect on October 28.

Among them is an exemption that will let users jailbreak their smartphones, but not their tablets. This Librarian decided not to include tablets because the "tablet" category of devices was not well-defined and could include devices like an e-reader, an iPad and even a tablet PC. It's likely that this decision will have a negative effect on the jailbreak community which releases tools that work with both the iPhone and iPad.

The Librarian also decided to revoke the exemption allowing customers to unlock their device and use them on a new carrier. The new provision lets you unlock any smartphone purchased before January 2013. Phones purchased after that date can only be unlocked with the permission of the carrier. The librarian noted that carriers have policies that allow for unlocking and felt there was no compelling reason why customers should be allowed to unlock their phones themselves.

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