EFF in the News
Mozilla Corp. is backing a move that would nullify copyright infringement charges against people who "jailbreak" their iPhones, a practice that Apple Inc. considers against the law.
In comments submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office, the maker of Firefox said it supports the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in its request for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The EFF wants the Copyright Office to let users jailbreak their phones without fear of copyright infringement penalties.
Despite President Obama's vow to open government more than ever, the Justice Department is defending Bush administration decisions to keep secret many documents about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists...
To withhold some material, the FBI cited discretionary FOIA exemptions and ones that require balancing privacy and public interests. David Sobel, attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that advocates civil liberties in cyberspace and brought the lawsuit, said those decisions might come out differently under the new guidelines.
There are plenty of people who can muster outrage at Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees third baseman who is the latest example of win-at-any-cost athletes. But I’d prefer to see him as at the cutting edge of another scourge — the growing encroachment on privacy...
Perhaps a more direct explanation is that data collection is part of what Cindy Cohn, the legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, calls “the surveillance business model.” That is, there is money to be made from knowing your customers well — with a depth unimaginable before Internet cookies allowed companies to track obsessively online behavior.
Richard Acton-Maher of San Francisco was in nearby Berkeley last month and wanted to meet friends for lunch. Instead of making calls to see who was around, he looked at a digital map on his iPhone that plotted their locations...
Besides competition, Google’s effort to turn mobile phones into tracking devices faces criticism from privacy advocates. Useful for friends and family, location data would also be valuable to the government, said Kevin Bankston, an attorney with the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on civil-liberties.
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.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed requests with the US Copyright Office to exempt activities from legal threats under the DMCA, one of which attacks Apple's secured software business model on the iPhone.
Apple has told the US Copyright Office that jailbreaking an iPhone should be illegal under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA).
Apple's defense of its practice of locking down the iPhone to software and services provided only by itself and its partner AT&T came in response to petitions for DCMA exemptions that were proposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in December 2008.
Apple recently told the U.S. Copyright Office that it believes iPhone jailbreaking is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and infringes on its copyright, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The EFF is trying to get the Copyright Office to grant a DMCA exemption on behalf of iPhone owners who have chosen to jailbreak their iPhones, or bypass the restriction Apple places on standard iPhones that only allows the installation of applications from approved sources: the App Store. In its response to the Copyright Office, Apple disagreed that such an exemption was proper because the very act of jailbreaking the iPhone results in copyright infringement.
Apple has remained pretty quiet, on the whole, concerning the fact that people "jailbreak" their iPhones to allow them to run non-Apple-approved software on the devices (or to use them on other mobile carriers). However, in responding to an attempt by the EFF to get jailbreaking (and other phone unlocking efforts) declared clear of any potential copyright claims, Apple has now officially said they believe that jailbreaking the iPhone is infringing on their copyright. This is troubling for a number of reasons.
Last December, the Electronic Frontier Foundation proposed an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that would make legal jailbreaking phones--the process of hacking phones to allow running third-party applications from other sources. Exemptions to the DMCA can be proposed to the Copyright Office every three years, and are valid for three years. In response, Apple has now filed a 27-page argument (PDF link) that jailbreaking should not be given an exemption.