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Apple Claims Jailbreaking Is Killing iPhone Business

The EFF's desire to allow the unlocking of cell phones like the iPhone represents an attack on Apple's business model, Apple decries.

Is jailbreaking strangling Apple's iPhone business model?

In comments filed with the U.S. Copyright Office, Apple argues that the Electronic Frontier Foundation's (EFF) desire for an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to unlock cell phones represents "an attack on Apple's particular business choices with respect to the design of the iPhone mobile computing platform and the strategy for delivering applications software for the iPhone through the iPhone App Store."

The U.S. Copyright Office is in the midst of its triennial consideration of exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It does so to mitigate the potential harms to fair use done by the law's prohibition on circumventing technological protection measures, which restrict certain activities with software or devices.

The EFF, which sat out the 2006 rule making because it deemed the process unfair, is seeking three exemptions this year: one that allows video remixing, and two that allow cell phone unlocking.

The EFF wants a DMCA exemption for cell phone jailbreaking, which it describes as "liberating iPhones and other handsets to run applications from sources other than those approved by the phone maker."

It also wants a renewal of a previously granted exemption for unlocking cell phones so that they can be used with any carrier. "Carriers have threatened cell phone unlockers under the DMCA to protect their anti-competitive business models, even though there is no copyright infringement involved in the unlocking," the EFF states.

Apple argues that "jailbreakers" are breaking the law. And if the EFF gets its way, the company contends, "it will destroy the 'chain of trust' that Apple has carefully engineered into the product to protect users from serious functional problems that often result from unauthorized modifications to the device's OS. It will potentially open up the iPhone to security holes and malware, as well as possible physical damage."

The EFF's proposed exemption also would increase Apple's customer support costs, the company warns. "Currently, Apple's support department receives literally millions of reported instances of problems flowing from jailbroken phones," Apple contends. "Apple's support costs would be increased substantially as the exemption encourages thousands of additional users to jailbreak their phones."

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