…And jailbreaking for all

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked the U.S. Copyright Office to officially grant an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for jailbreaking tablets and video game consoles.

The EFF won a similar exemption from the Copyright Office way back in 2009 allowing users to legally jailbreak their iPhone and other handsets.

According to EFF rep Trevor Timm, the vibrant jailbreaking community has since helped to improve smartphone innovation, along with security and privacy features.

“For example, the community developed applications – first rejected by Apple – that allowed older versions of the iPhone to record video,” explained Timm.

“Jailbreakers were also the first to successfully configure keyboards to wirelessly connect with the smartphone. Apple later adopted both of these features.”

Now, says Timm, the EFF wants tablet and console owners to have the same benefits that smartphone users have enjoyed for the past three years.

Indeed, manufacturers of video game consoles like the PlayStation 3, Xbox, and Nintendo Wii routinely limit operating system and software options – even when there is little or no evidence that third-party programs infringe copyright.

As such, the EFF is seeking an exemption that would allow users to run the operating system of their choice on consoles, as well as “homebrew” applications.

“Video game consoles have powerful computer processors that can allow a user to run them as an inexpensive alternative to a desktop. Researchers, and even the U.S. military, turned clusters of PS3s into powerful supercomputers back when Sony supported the installation of alternative operating systems,” said Timm.

“But Sony axed that option with a 2010 firmware update, and PS3s can no longer run Linux without being jailbroken. Indeed, earlier this year Sony went so far as to sue several researchers for publishing information about security holes that would let people install and run Linux on their own PS3s. We hope the exemption we’re seeking will clarify that people can run the operating system and applications of their choice on their own boxes.”