iPhone Jailbreaking Illegal?

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From our friends over at TUAW, the latest reports are that Apple considers jailbreaking a violation of their copyright. Now listen, I am a big Apple fan. I only use Windows computers under duress, and I simply love my iPhone (and my iPod, and my wife’s MacBook, and the 9 other Apple computers that I have owned). I think Apple is a great company that makes wonderful products.

But come on…seriously? Jailbreaking is a violation of your copyright?

I believe that taking oneself too seriously is one of the most serious infringements to human happiness. If you really believe that what you do is so important that it can’t be done with humor and good sharing, well then, frankly you perhaps need to head back to kindergarten for some manners.

I understand that Apple spent umpteen billion dollars creating the iPhone. I understand that they want to protect their investment. I also understand that Apple has a vision for the way the device works. I get that stuff. I appreciate it. But seriously, some enterprising geeks want to tweak your software and you complain to the trademark office? Holy Christmas! I am astounded by Apple’s decision to pursue this kind of action. Perhaps there are more significant issues of technology secrecy and business protection here, but on the simple face of it, this is just plain silly. Apple has clearly gone bonkers here…

Once you buy the device, it is yours to do with what you will. Sure, jailbroken phones do potentially derive Apple of some revenue (especially if they are older iPhones that have a rev-sharing plan with ATT) but for new phones, since this is a traditional subsidized phone sale, Apple is completely whole, even if someone jailbreaks a phone. They are still getting that subsidy payment from ATT. (This could be a complaint by ATT made through Apple to stop jailbreaking, I suppose).

The only folks that I can imagine Apple really going after are people that sell jailbreaking software (if there are any). Then I can understand that Apple is going after a company that facilitates the act of jailbreaking, which Apple feels impinges on its copyright. And, in order to maintain the copyright on something, you need to zealously defend it. But really, can you imagine if cars had copyrights, that Ford or Toyota or GM would go after the millions of tuners and mechanics out there? Does Microsoft freak out if people tweak Windows? I guess I am lost as to Apple’s reasoning. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. In fact, since I am not a copyright lawyer, I have to think that Apple should be pretty proud of themselves. They have created a device that millions are thrilled with and use as Apple intended. And then there are thousands (millions?) of people who are so inspired by by the promise of the device that Apple had made that they go out of their way to expand on its capabilities. Jailbreaking, to me, is a real compliment. Jailbreaking is using the building blocks of Cupertino’s imagination to create a unique user experience. Should Apple be mad? I don’t think so. They ought to be honored.

Hey, Apple, stop taking yourself so seriously…this just makes you seem vain and vituperative. (And if it makes you feel better, I was tempted to jailbreak my iPhone after hearing about this, but T-Mobile has even worse coverage that ATT where I live, so my iPhone is just as you made it…are you happy now?)
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