Jailbreaking iPhone Is Not Illegal, But Jailbreaking iPad Is

The many features that jailbreaking adds to the iPhone has many thinking there was no life before jailbreaking their smartphones. Anyway, a recent update on new exemptions keeps jailbreaking iPhone not illegal, but jailbreaking iPad is a whole different story.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Librarian of Congress has updated its guidelines on jailbreaking iOS. Jailbreaking Phone remained safe under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but jailbreaking iPad isn’t. So, don’t mess with iPad’s system.

Since it’s too late to make jailbreaking iPhones illegal, Apple decided to do something about the newest addition to the product portfolio: the insanely popular iPad. Whereas it didn’t act directly, it managed to make jailbreaking iPad illegal through a request submitted by antipiracy group Business Software Alliance (BSA).

In July, the BSA told the U.S. Copyright Office that jailbreaking gadgets opens the path towards unlicensed content, thus pirated music, videos and so on. “Jailbreaking enables the installation and execution of pirated – i.e. unlicensed – apps on a mobile device” the antipiracy group argued. “So there is a direct link between piracy and the circumvention of TPMs [technological protection measures] – jailbreaking is the precondition for making pirated apps valuable”.

Taking that into account, the U.S. Librarian of Congress took one category off the list of circumvention allowed under the law. The authority explained that jailbreaking is allowed only for smartphones, through “computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute lawfully obtained software applications….for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications with computer programs on the telephone handset”.

iPads and other tablets (but it’s mostly iPads) are not on that list. The authority argued that it “found significant merit to the opposition’s concerns that this aspect of the proposed class was broad and ill-defined, as a wide range of devices might be considered ‘tablets’. Because “the record lacked a sufficient basis to develop an appropriate definition for the tablet category of devices, a necessary predicate to extending the exemption beyond smartphones” jailbreaking iPad is illegal.

In the meanwhile, jailbreakers took their discontent with the new rules that will become effective October 28 2012 on Twitter. “Unlocking is no longer an explicit DMCA exemption 🙁 Neither is jailbreaking iPads (important: no exemption! = illegal)” tweeted MuscleNerd, whereas other users called it “stupid” and “total bullsh**”.

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Eli Wads is one of our expert authors in technology and business fields.Currently living in San Marino, Eli has graduated at Southwestern Academy with a Bachelor Degree in business in 2008. Contact him by dropping him an e-mail at

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