The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked the US Copyright Office to make it legal to jailbreak consumer electronic devices, including smartphones, tablets, and video game consoles.
It wants to see gaining root access to a device removed from being prohibited by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
According to a statement from EFF Senior Staff Attorney Marcia Hofmann, technology has evolved over the last three years, so it's important to expand these exemptions to cover the real-world uses of smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, DVDs, and video downloads.
She said if the US were to protect the jailbreaking of all consumer electronic devices, the rest of the industry would be subject to the same ruling that Apple already adheres to.
Under the rules it is legal to jailbreak the iPhone, but Apple still has the right to combat jailbreakers with its company actions and warranty policies. It means that you can't go to prison for jailbreaking, but Cupertino can refuse you customer support and get sniffy when it mentions your name in polite company.
Hofmann said that DMCA is supposed to block copyright infringement. But instead it can be misused to threaten creators, innovators, and consumers, discouraging them from making full and fair use of their own property.
EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry added that hobbyists and tinkerers who want to modify their phones or video game consoles to run software programs of their choice deserve protection under the law.