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Legality was the Issue
Apple, maker of the iPhone has stated many times since the first release of a jailbreaking utility that jailbreaking was not authorized. While jailbreaking was never officially "illegal" it was never "legal". Leaving jailbreaking somewhere in between the two resulted in many users in fear of jailbreaking their iPhone because of the consequences.
The question of "is it legal to jailbreak my iPhone?" has now gotten a solid answer. Jailbreaking the iPhone is now officially legal by the word of the U.S. government, issued in the form of a revision to the copyright laws. The U.S. Copyright Office revise the rules every three years and make necessary changes to the laws.
This new law officially makes it legal for iPhone users to jailbreak and unlock their iPhones. The rule explicitly states that the iPhone can be unlocked to work on other carriers. This means that the iPhone can be unlocked and used on other networks that are not AT&T. Furthermore the new law states that it is legal to jailbreak the iPhone to run legally obtained software which is not yet approved by Apple or has not been submitted to Apple.
An excellent example of why to jailbreak your iPhone for a piece of software is Google Voice. Countless times Apple has rejected the Google Voice software from the official AppStore leaving users with access to the web-only interface of Google Voice. Jailbreaking your iPhone will open the doors to several different options for Google Voice software which enables listening to voicemail, texting and even placing calls via the dialer in Google Voice.
Google Voice is just the tip of the iceberg as there are hundreds, even thousands of programs available for jailbroken iPhone's. In a nutshell, the answer to the question "is it legal to jailbreak my iPhone?" is now yes. It is legal to jailbreak your iPhone and to run legally obtained software on your iPhone.
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What Apple Has to Say
While iPhone owners no longer have to ask the question "is it legal to jailbreak my iPhone?" there is still one big question left to be asked. The new question that takes center stage is "What does Apple have to say about jailbreaking?"
Apple has never had a particularly friendly standpoint towards jailbreaking the iPhone. Apple has always warned users of the "potential risks" and even went as far as to officially void the warranty on all jailbroken iPhones. The current standpoint from Apple remains the same as before in the sense that jailbreaking your iPhone will officially void the warranty from Apple.
Users should not fear something as simple as the warranty when considering a jailbreak. Apple will likely continue to search for their own way to prevent users from jailbreaking. With each update of the iOS Apple has also found a way to patch the security holes used for jailbreaking thus disabling the ability to jailbreak.
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The Future of Jailbreaking
In the present iPhone users have a definitive answer - it is legal to jailbreak your iPhone. The future will depend on both Apple and the U.S. Copyright Office. Copyright laws are reviewed every three years and as of right now it is perfectly legal to jailbreak the iPhone. It is not likely that it will ever be changed to an illegal status.
Only the future will tell what Apple will do to react towards the new legality of jailbreaking. Many speculate that Apple will not simply accept the news and will continue to void iPhone warranties for the consumers who choose to jailbreak or unlock their iPhones. Apple may also continue to battle against jailbreaking with updates to the iOS.
At this point there is nothing more than speculation. Apple could possibly loosen up on the jailbreaking community as well. Nobody really knows and only Apple can make that decision for themselves. Many individuals, such as Mario Ciabarra (founder of Rock Your Phone) stated that this is the first step towards removing the "handcuffs" that Apple has placed on the hands of developers.
Regardless of speculation, one thing is now certain... there is no need to ask "is it legal to jailbreak my iPhone?", the answer is yes.
If you are new to the Jailbreaking scene than there has never been a better time to learn! Check out this great article about How to Use Cydia. Do not miss this article about How to Jailbreak Your iPhone.