We're still celebrating the decision by U.S. regulators to add some much needed exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which, among other things, makes it perfectly legal for users to jailbreak their iPhones and other mobile phones, and boy is that pissing off Apple.
"Apple's goal has always been to ensure that our customers have a great experience with their iPhone and we know that jailbreaking can severely degrade the experience," an Apple spokeswoman said in a statement. "As we've said before, the vast majority of customers do not jailbreak their iPhone as this can violate the warranty and can cause the iPhone to become unstable and not work reliably."
We bolded the warranty tidbit ourselves, because really, that's the part that some will construe as a veiled threat from Apple, and others will take as affirmation that, yes, your warranty goes out the window the minute you alter Jobs' magical handset in ways his Cupertino company doesn't approve.
Nobody really knows exactly how many jailbroken iPhones are out in the wild, though some estimates peg the number at around 10 million. And that was before this landmark ruling. With the Library of Congress handing the keys over to users, you can bet an increasing number of iPhone owners will drive off into what's no longer the Forbidden Zone.
Sure, Apple can kill your warranty for doing so, but that's all the company can do, right? Maybe not. If you haven't already, check out our latest edition of Murphy's Law, in which David Murphy explains why he thinks this is just the beginning of a frightening war between Apple and those would dare jailbreak their iPhones.
There's not a whole lot to like about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), but one of the more onerous provisions of the law is a ban on circumvention of DRM and similar "technical protection measures". The decision handed down today from the Copyright Office and Librarian of Congress has resulted in three exemptions in this law. That is, three situations where it is now acceptable to break digital protection schemes.
The first exemption allows users to "Jailbreak" an iPhone or other handset in order to run legally obtained, but unapproved software. Apple had previously hinted that this activity could be illegal under the DMCA. This change was done to enable consumers to increase the interoperability of their devices. The EFF also secured new protections for artists that make fair use of copyrighted content in video remixes, or mashups. Noncomercial artists are now permitted to break digital protection for this purpose. Get ready for some YouTube celebration mashups.
The last ruling is not a new provision, but rather a renewal of an existing exemption. The Librarian of Congress reaffirmed a 2006 rule that protects cell phone unlocking from prosecution under the DMCA. The locking of a phone to one carrier makes it harder to use or resell later. It's important to note that none of these new exemptions mean that companies have to stop using DRM, just that we are actually allowed to break it in more situations.
I'm a pretty avid college football fan, which has absolutely nothing to do with the world of open source or freeware. Or does it? I just made my yearly donation to Electronic Arts in the form of a cash gift, of which they happily accepted and used, in part, to bestow me with a copy of their latest carbon-copy of last year's sports title of choice.
I'm referring, of course, to NCAA Football 2011.
As it turns out, Electronic Arts--in an effort to thwart used game sales--has made it so that you actually have to enter a physical code to unlock portions of the game (many of the multiplayer options) that have previously been part and parcel for any of its sports titles under the sun, if not "video gaming" as a general concept. If you want to access these parts of the game, but find that your code has already been used by another, you have to pony up a small fee to, you know, play what you purchased.
Obviously, the closest we have to microtransactions in this environment is good ol' shareware--I don't often see many programs saying, for example, "for 500 uses the paint bucket tool, please pay $3 to..."
Talk about tough luck for Uniloc, who sued Microsoft for patent infringement and was awarded an unprecedented $388 million verdict by a jury in April. But Microsoft won't have to pay Uniloc a dime, as Judge William Smith of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island overturned the ruling this week, clearing Microsoft of any wrong doing.
"We are pleased that the court has vacated the jury verdict and entered judgment in favor of Microsoft," spokesman Kevin Kutz said Tuesday.
First filed six years ago, Irvine, California-based Unloc USA and Singapore-based parent company accused Microsoft of using its patented technology for software activation. Specifically, the companies laid claimed to the use of a software activation key to keep users from installing licensed software on multiple PCs