There is something deeply exasperating about the debate, exposed today, about whether unlocking an iPhone violates Apple’s copyright on the cellphone’s software. There’s a real issue at stake, but it isn’t fundamentally about copyrights.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in a filing to the Copyright Office, argues that the government should allow iPhone owners to circumvent technical barriers meant to keep them from changing the phone’s software, a process called jailbreaking. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act bans people from defeating technical protections for copyrighted materials (such as the encryption on DVDs). The act requires the government to consider exemptions to this ban every three years.