Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Yes, My iPod is Still Legal

I believe the Library of Congress just pwned Steve Jobs. Apple and its omnipotent company powers have previously sought to prevent their end users from jail-breaking, a.k.a installing software other than that of Apple almighty, their iPhones, iPod touches, etc. This effort is not surprising with the amount of control Apple exhibits over both its users and developers. For some unknown reason, Apple must control everything, even if it means keeping everybody else out. However, the Library of Congress recently released a ruling that:
Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.
In other words, jail-breaking your iPhone so you can use it with other software is considered fair user under copyright law, and is definitely legal. This is great news for the ten percent of iOS users who jail-break their devices, not that any of them (including myself) would have cared even the slightest bit that our improvements of Apple's software suddenly became illegal under copyright law.

Despite this success, if Apple had succeeded and got their way, I would be very angry. Copyright itself is just a right given to creators of works so they can safely assume that nobody else is going to appropriate their works. It is not a way to control what software a user puts on a hardware device they paid for, nor is it a way to "cleanse the iPhone ecosystem", so to say, by stifling any software that is not Apple-approved. In fact, considering copyright is supposed to facilitate the progress of science and the arts, it is actually counterproductive to forbid jail-breaking, since you are locking out software developers who want to provide to users, but do not want to stick within Apple's framework. It's like expelling a child from school because they colored outside of the lines. Oh no, imagine parents came to visit and saw such horrid artwork coming from one of our students!

The other problem with Apple's tower of control is their reasoning for forbidding jail-breaking. They want to make sure only the best software gets in, which really means they want the Apple experience to be perfect. However, technological perfection is not achievable, not even with Apple, as we saw with the many iPhone 4 issues. So trying to simulate such perfection at the cost of software creativity just seems idiotic. Well, all I know is that I like the Library of Congress a whole lot more than I did before. Thanks for protecting our rights as users and developers' rights as artists, and for making sure the community as a whole is freed from the evil clutches of Steve Jobs.

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