Breaking Out of Section 1201(a) Liability: Why Jailbreaking the iPhone Constitutes Fair Use Under Copyright

11 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2009 Last revised: 6 Apr 2009

Ryan Benjamin Witte

Boies, Schiller, and Flexner LLP; Columbia University - Law School

Date Written: April 1, 2009

Abstract

This essay evaluates whether utilizing substantial portions of Apple's copyrighted iPhone firmware in third-party programs, without permission, constitutes a fair use under copyright law. Provided it does, the question then becomes whether the Librarian of Congress should grant a proposed exception to section 1201(a), which would allow programmers to circumvent technological access controls which prevent users from installing third-party programs on their iPhones - a practice known as "jailbreaking." Because section 1201(a) permits an exemption to the anti-circumvention statute only when "non-infringing uses" are likely to be stifled, the decision whether jailbreaking is a fair use or a prohibited use can be dispositive of the outcome.

Keywords: Copyright, Fair Use, Jailbreaking, iPhone, 1201(a), Librarian of Congress, Anti-Circumvention

Suggested Citation

Witte, Ryan Benjamin, Breaking Out of Section 1201(a) Liability: Why Jailbreaking the iPhone Constitutes Fair Use Under Copyright (April 1, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1371863 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1371863

Ryan Benjamin Witte (Contact Author)

Boies, Schiller, and Flexner LLP ( email )

100 S.E. 2nd Ave.
Suite 2800
Miami, FL
United States

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

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