Update: The recent DMCA rulings have made jailbreaking illegal for tablets while it remains legal for smartphones. This means you can continue jailbreaking iPhones without infringing on rights but you can’t jailbreak tablets. Read about the new DMCA here.
Update: Unlocking might just become legal after White House’s position on the unlocking petition. Read about it here.
A couple of years ago, the US Government ruled that jailbreaking was legal. And there should have been a collective sigh of relief in the jailbreak community.
That ruling almost had a close call sometime earlier last year but then, things are staying the way they are and jailbreaking is still perfectly legal.
Why Was There A Problem?
Apple is never happy with the jailbreak idea. Some point out that Apple is a control-freak that wants to control every aspect of what goes into the iOS ecosystem. Some are of the opinion that it is just because Apple only wants to provide the best quality to its customers.
That debate is never-ending and we must keep that for later. Let’s talk about Apple’s view on jailbreaking.
Apple does not support jailbreaking and the only way it can show its disapproval is by voiding the warranty if you take a jailbroken iOS device to them. Any jailbroken device is considered warranty-void and you would not be able to get the benefits of the warranty: replacement of device, free servicing etc.
While Apple does wage the war on jailbreaking this way, people have very clear ways to skirt this system. If you do a complete reset of your device (or restore), all jailbreak data is gone and your iDevice is as good as new. If you happen to take this device to the Apple Store for support, repair or other things, you can pretty much be safe in the knowledge that the guys won’t say you’ve broken your warranty.
Legality of Jailbreaking
The US Government ruled jailbreaking as not illegal meaning Apple can’t sue someone for jailbreaking their iPhones. This also gives a lot of playing room for hackers and the entire jailbreaking community because no one can sue them now.
This is very important because if Apple took to suing, that would literally put an end to all the publicized jailbreaking activity going on all over the world. It would still happen, but under veiled cloaks.
Apple Does Benefit from Jailbreak Community
The most ironic thing is that Apple gets influenced from the jailbreaking community all too often. Some of the features you see: FaceTime over 3G, Siri opening apps, etc. – have been introduced as Cydia tweaks much before Apple made them part of the official package.
Jailbreaking has its own set of pros and cons. Briefly, we think jailbreaking is fun and surely, it adds a lot of additional features that you would not get from the App Store. On the other hand, you need to be cautious about what you download from Cydia because these are not strictly monitored and may cause some damage to the iOS.