The Jailbreaking Exemption and Apple Peel 520

As it has been known by all creatures on earth (maybe except lawyers), the U.S. Library of Congress issued a statement on Monday that legalized “jailbreaking” wireless telephone handsets.

It is no doubt a good news for jailbreakers, the unauthorized App developers, as well as iPhone buyers. Now you can strut up to the black corner of the computer arcade, looking straight inside the eyes of the guy who knows how to satisfy your desire (of anything that Jobs don’t want you do, such as watching flash video), and speak laudly: "break it, please."

"Wait, wait! It’s an iPod … OK … if you like to call it iTouch, then it is an iTouch… It’s not an iPhone, I mean … not a telephone handset."

"What?"

Let’s stop the drama and go back to the law:

At least from the literal meaning of the newly annouced exemption, iTouch owners may be excluded from the benificiaries. Here is the fulltext of the exemption:

… Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) until the conclusion of the next rulemaking.

(2) Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.

Is an iTouch a "wireless telephone handset"? I don’t know. At least Apple, even before such exemption promulgated, has already said it isn’t a telephone – it is a great iPod, a pocket computer and a game player, but not a telephone… because only iPhone will be a telephone. (How about iPad 3G? Too big to be a "handset"?)

As it has been known by all creatures on earth (maybe except lawyers), the U.S. Library of Congress issued a statement on Monday that legalized “jailbreaking” wireless telephone handsets.

It is no doubt a good news for jailbreakers, the unauthorized App developers, as well as iPhone buyers. Now you can strut up to the black corner of the computer arcade, looking straight inside the eyes of the guy who knows how to satisfy your desire (of anything that Jobs don’t want you do, such as watching flash video), and speak laudly: "break it, please."

"Wait, wait! It’s an iPod … OK … if you like to call it iTouch, then it is an iTouch… It’s not an iPhone, I mean … not a telephone handset."

"What?"

Let’s stop the drama and go back to the law:

At least from the literal meaning of the newly annouced exemption, iTouch owners may be excluded from the benificiaries. Here is the fulltext of the exemption:

… Persons making noninfringing uses of the following six classes of works will not be subject to the prohibition against circumventing access controls (17 U.S.C. § 1201(a)(1)) until the conclusion of the next rulemaking.

(2) Computer programs that enable wireless telephone handsets to execute software applications, where circumvention is accomplished for the sole purpose of enabling interoperability of such applications, when they have been lawfully obtained, with computer programs on the telephone handset.

Is an iTouch a "wireless telephone handset"? I don’t know. At least Apple, even before such exemption promulgated, has already said it isn’t a telephone – it is a great iPod, a pocket computer and a game player, but not a telephone… because only iPhone will be a telephone. (How about iPad 3G? Too big to be a "handset"?)

While in practice, if you do own an iTouch, you must have tried make use it being a telephone – The easiest way is to install a Skype. That dose not need jailbreak.

Recently, there is a more exciting way to turn iTouch to a telephone, a real GSM mobile phone. After jailbreaking, you may turn your iTouch to be a real telephone in the near future by wearing this: Apple Peel 520.

This adapter not only offers voice calling and text messaging (presumably requiring a jailbroken iPod touch for the apps; GPRS not possible yet), but it also doubles up as an 800mAh battery and provides 4.5 hours of call time or 120 hours of standby juice.

This is interesting… And by the way, this is made in China. China do have the regulation prohibiting the circumvention tools. While such regulation does not have a mechanism of the administrative exemption.  It’s hard to say whether the copyright law can be used to prohibit the distribution of Apple Peel 520. In fact, from my knowledge, another heavier sword over Apple Peel would be: "Network Access License for Telecommunication", which is issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Every mode of cellphone must be licensed before being sold legally in China…again, license issued by the government might be a bigger problem than the copyright license.

 

BTW, "520" means "I love you" in Chinese cellphone message language.

Chinese BT Websites are Shut down for No License

The leading Chinese websites of BT sharing are shutting down since the beginning of December. BTChina (btchina.net), one of the most famous such sites, is totally shut down. And the rumour that its webmaster has been arrested was once widely spreaded. Yesterday, the webmaster of BTChina left a very brief message at the webpage:

It says:

I have to clarify that … the Radio, Film and Television Administration noticed me BTChina should be closed because the Register Serial Number of the Website (RSNW) is canceled by the Ministry of Industry and information Technology (MIIT). The reason of cancelling the Register Serial Number is BTCHINA has no "License for Dissemination of Audio-Visual Programs through Information Network" (LDAV). I am safe (not arrested). And this proved the online rumours are not reliable, especifically the news.

The leading Chinese websites of BT sharing are shutting down since the beginning of December. BTChina (btchina.net), one of the most famous such sites, is totally shut down. And the rumour that its webmaster has been arrested was once widely spreaded. Yesterday, the webmaster of BTChina left a very brief message at the webpage:

It says:

I have to clarify that … the Radio, Film and Television Administration noticed me BTChina should be closed because the Register Serial Number of the Website (RSNW) is canceled by the Ministry of Industry and information Technology (MIIT). The reason of cancelling the Register Serial Number is BTCHINA has no "License for Dissemination of Audio-Visual Programs through Information Network" (LDAV). I am safe (not arrested). And this proved the online rumours are not reliable, especifically the news.

Not merely BTChina, many other well-known websites sharing  BT seeds are shut down since last week (read the story in Chinese at here). It is apparently that a campaign of cracking down online piracy has been kicked off by some Chinese central government officers, just following the compaign of shutting down pornographic wap sites for mobile phones.

Please, read the above story from a social-legal perspective. The compaign is obviously aiming at piracy. But the reason of shutting down those websites is not that they don’t have copyright license, but that they don’t have an administrative license of online dissemination of audio-visual programs issued by the government.

Although China has an Administrative License Law to restrict the pervasive application of it, the wide usage of licensing system can be parallel to the technical measures of GFW as the pillars of the Internet censorship. It is apparently that in China, proving a website "has no adminitrative license" is far easier than proving the content of that website "has no copyright license". When Chinese officers say "the government administers the Internet according to the law", they are saying mostly the licensing regulations, like the LDAV and the RSNW in the above story. In this circumstance, the copyright owners’ best strategy of fighting piracy may not be filing the case to court, but reporting the authority that the targeted website does not obtain the license of disseminating Audio-Visual programs (or license of disseminating other contents).

I personally don’t like such situation. But it is there, lively. That’s why I say the free culture in China should not merely be the freedom of amateur using copyrighted works, but also be the freedom of disseminating information. This is the premise of discussing copyright issues. I mean, either in a soceity that the freedom of dissemination exist or in a soceity that it does not exist, the copyright law may survive. But the "copyright’s paradox" in these two contexts should be various.