Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Part of Apple’s Dictatorship Smashed By U.S. Court

This week, the American Copyright Office ruled that “jailbreaking” your iPhone doesn’t violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), breaking Apple’s strong-arm tactics to keep iPhone applications – often called “apps” – under the computer company’s control.

Prior to the American government ruling, Apple’s iPhone wouldn’t allow you to properly install “apps” which Apple didn’t sanction.

Thanks to the American ruling, Apple no longer can use the DCMA to control what you do and don’t do on your iPhone. However, Apple still has the ability to deny warranty coverage on iPhones which have been set to run non-Apple approved applications, and may be able to sue iPhone users for attempting to reverse engineer their iPhone.

Whether Apple intends this sort of action is still up in the air, as the latest legal developments could be viewed as a precedent which would further erode Apple’s dictatorship-approach to the iPhone, and it’s other technologies.

What would have happened if Microsoft took the same approach to Windows-based Personal Computers? What if Microsoft only allowed Microsoft approved applications be run on Windows-based machines?

Chances are, we’d still be in the dark ages, running computers with teeny hard drives, barely any memory and the Internet – ROTFL – that woudn’t exist.

By allowing software developers the freedom to explore the digital wonders their minds can concieve, we open up a whole new technological universe. Apple claims its restrictions on its hardware and software maintains a high quality user experience, while minimizing the risks from viruses and malware.

Granted, having Big Brother watching over every single application which is in development may help prevent viruses and malware, but it won’t eliminate it completely. Smart phone malware is still relatively new, and potentially devastating. Clicking on a link in a text message from someone you think is sending you a link to their resume might actually download your complete address book to some hell-bent hacker who giddy with delight at receiving a new batch of victims, spams their smart phones.

And not all the “apps” denied approval by Apple are dangerous. Google Voice was never approved by the wanna-be computer gods at Apple, yet this proven technology by the largest search engine on the planet is in use by millions around the world.

Some smart iPhone users found a way to beat Apple at its own game, and figured out how to hack into the iPhone’s file system, unlocking the device so it would run “apps” which didn’t have an Apple-approved digital signature.

Unlocking of the iPhone to run non-Apple approved “apps” is ironically called “jailbreaking” as you are breaking the smart phone out of Apple’s jail.

Apple, not surprisingly, is advising users against jailbreaking their iPhones, claiming it may cause performance issues.

The only performance issues experienced by the estimated four-million iPhone users already using “apps” which Apple has not approved is the freedom to use their iPhone as they want too. 

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