You're now free to 'break' your iPhone

The Copyright Office says it's OK to install unauthorized apps on your iPhone.

By Kim Peterson Jul 26, 2010 6:46PM

Credit:  Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up iPhone 4 as he talks about the Apple iPhone 4 at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Friday, July 16, 2010  (© Paul Sakuma/AP)"Jailbreaking" is now legal -- on an iPhone, that is.

In what is being called a slap in the face to Apple (AAPL), new government rules are allowing iPhone owners to run applications that haven't received Apple's official blessing.


Apple has frowned on people tweaking their iPhones to allow unapproved apps -- known as "jailbreaking" -- calling it unauthorized modification of its software, according to The Associated Press.

But others say that freeing the phone from Apple's oversight means the iPhone app market will get bigger and more independent. Apple is pretty strict with software developers, requiring them to jump through a few hoops to get something green-lit for the iPhone. Google (GOOG) has been significantly more open with its Android mobile platform.

But, as the AP points out, the new rules from the Copyright Office won't stop Apple from using software upgrades to disable "jailbroken" phones. If you do decide to jailbreak, you may not be able to upgrade the software any longer. And the warranty could be voided as well.

The new government rules also allow owners of used cell phones to break restrictions on their phones in order to switch wireless carriers, the AP reports.

PCWorld says the new freedom to jailbreak won't help most iPhone users. The phones may become less stable, security might be (slightly) more at risk, and upgrading the software could become more difficult.

"I'm glad people can still jailbreak their iPhones without those risks -- in some way it forces Apple to compete with the features of jailbroken phones -- but don't expect the process to become any easier as a result," writes Jared Newman.

Here's the full text of the Copyright Office's ruling.

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