While it’s never come to a criminal case in this country (to the best of my knowledge), jailbreaking your iPhone and copying a DVD for personal use have long been stigmatized as illegal, under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. And typically, when something’s been illegal, it doesn’t become more legal later – especially when powerful interests like the MPAA and Apple have a good reason to want them to stay illegal.
So I was pretty surprised to see that the DMCA review – which happens every three years and determines what things that were illegal now shouldn’t be – exempted iPhone jailbreakers and DVD copiers from the law. It’s good news, if only for a very narrow subset of the population, because it’s always been silly to tell people what they’re not allowed to do to their copy of a device that they purchased and own. The ruling is pretty much common sense.
Can you imagine if every law was subject to a review (from a non-campaigning entity like the Library of Congress, no less) every three years, to see if it still made sense?