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Is Jailbreaking a Crime? As “Anti-Circumvention” Rule Goes Up For Review, KaKaRoTo Explains Why You Should Stand Up For Your Rights

February 8, 2012 Written by Sebastian Moss

Every three years, the US Copyright Office reviews requests for exemptions to the “anti-circumvention” rules in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, with the next review set for this Friday. Will jailbreaking be classified a crime?

Jailbreaking – the act of circumventing a system’s security to access its inner files and be able to do what you want with the system – was previously ruled legal on mobile devices like iPhones and iPads, but with the PS3 it’s a little different. While the general consensus is that it is legal, Sony continues to pursue action against the modding and cracking community as a true precedent has yet to be set (Geohotz settled out of court). But Friday’s review could change all that, and clearly define jailbreaking as illegal, or legal.

We asked the developer of the first “Modified Firmware” for the PlayStation 3 and leading industry figure Youness Alaoui (known as KaKaRoTo) about his thoughts on the matter. He replied:

We own computers and we use them any way we want, and that’s normal and legal. But recently, most of our devices, have become full fledged computers. The PlayStation 3 is a computer, referred to by Sony as a “Computer Entertainment System” and which could even run Linux at one point. When we buy a PS3, we own it, but we are locked out of it by Sony for no reason other than for them to impose on us a flawed business model.

My PlayStation 3, for example, is full of spyware (you should see the kind of personal information it sends without your knowledge), adware (all those “PSN Store” icons in every XMB category, the “What’s new”, Video unlimited, Netflix, NHL, etc.. icons) and malware (removal of OtherOS, removal of copy to PSP feature, forced silent updates, etc..) which Sony forcefully installed without my consent and I have no way to uninstall them. When you get spyware/adware/malware installed on your PC, it is considered a “virus” and you must uninstall it, and you have tools for that, but with the PS3, you can’t, and the tools to do that are considered illegal.

Jailbreaking allows us to gain back control of our own devices. I buy my device, I own it. While I do not own the operating system/software that runs on it, I am forced to use it to run the machine. What if I don’t want to agree to their terms of service anymore (which change every other week, and rob me of my constitutional rights), what if I don’t want to use their software anymore? I should be allowed to legally jailbreak the device and completely replace the software, the operating system, with one that I approve. If I can’t replace the operating system, then my property (the hardware) cannot be used anymore, and Sony basically stole my money. I sign a user agreement to use their software, but the hardware is mine and I don’t want their software anymore.

Jailbreaking is not a crime, Jailbreaking is about freedom and doing what’s right. And while pirating software is a crime and cheating online is immoral and unethical, the act of jailbreaking in itself is not and should not be considered a crime.

It is time to make our voice heard and let everyone know that we cannot tolerate being dictated what to do and how to do it, being forced to see ads everyday and then being called criminals for requesting our fundamental rights. It is time to refuse having our property defaced with their adware, our privacy violated with their spyware, and our freedom forgotten by their lawyers.

Jailbreaking is not a crime. Sign the petition today and tell the US Congress why you think your freedom is more important than some corrupt business model: https://www.jailbreakingisnotacrime.org/

You can find out more about KaKaRoTo’s views in an exclusive PSLS interview, “Who Owns Your PS3?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who we interviewed about free speech and jailbreaking last year, also believes that you should be allowed to do what you want with your own tech. The EFF also made a parody video ridiculing the fact that you can set your PS3 on fire, smash it and toast it, but can’t jailbreak it:

If you agree that jailbreaking should be legal, you have one day left to let the Copyright Office know. But if you feel otherwise, be sure to voice your opinion, as is your free speech right.

Where do you stand? Should you be allowed to do what you want with the hardware you own, or is the safety and the security of the closed system paramount? Share your thoughts below.