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Thursday, July 29, 2010

"Jailbreaking" Won't Land You In Jail
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jailbroken phone graphicThe Digital Millenium Copyright Act makes it a crime to circumvent digital rights management technologies but allows the Librarian of Congress to exempt certain classes of works from this prohibition.

The Copyright Office just released a new rulemaking on this issue in which it allows people to "unlock" their cell phones so they can be used on other networks and "jailbreak" closed mobile phone operating systems like the iOS operating system on Apple's iPhones so that they will run unapproved third-party software.

This is arguably good news for consumers: Those willing to void their warranties so they can teach their phone some new tricks no longer have to fear having their phone confiscated, being sued, or being imprisoned. (The civil and criminal penalties are described in 17 USC 1203 and 17 USC 1204.) Although the new exemption does not protect those who distribute unlocking and/or jailbreaking software (which would be classified under 17 USC 1201(b), and thus outside the exemption of 17 USC 1201(a)), the cases discussed below could mean that jailbreaking phones simply falls outside of the scope of all of the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions.

Apple opposed this idea when it was initially proposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, arguing that legalizing jailbreaking constituted a forced restructuring of its business model that would result in "significant functional problems" for consumers that could include "security holes and malware, as well as possible physical damage." But who beyond a small number of geeks brave enough to give up their warranties and risk bricking their devices, is really going to attempt jailbreaking? One survey found that only 10% of iPhone users have jailbroken their phones, and the majority are in China, where the iPhone was not available legally until recently. Is it really likely that giving the tinkering minority the legal right to void their product warranties would cause any harm to the non-tinkering majority that will likely choose to instead remain within a manufacturer's "walled garden"? I don't think so. If, as a result of this ruling, large numbers of consumers jailbreak their phones and install pirated software, the Copyright Office can easily reconsider the exemption in its next Triennial Rulemaking.

While the ruling is heartening, it is not surprising. In Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Techs., Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that trafficking in a circumvention device violates Section 1201(a)(2) only if the circumvention enables access that "infringes or facilitates infringing a right protected by the Copyright Act." The Chamberlain case involved unlicensed third-party garage door opener remotes. The Sixth Circuit came to a similar decision in Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc., a case involving a software "handshake" between Lexmark printers and Lexmark-branded toner cartridges meant to keep third-party replacement toner cartridges off the market. The Copyright Office's ruling is just another example of policymakers recognizing that Copyright law exists only to protect copyrighted works, not business models based on excluding access.

But self-help is a two-way street: Companies are, and should be, free to continue using their own "self-help" technical protection measures to prevent (or merely discourage) customers from reverse-engineering their products. This highlights what Larry Lessig describes as the distinction between East Coast Code (laws) and West Coast Code (software). It makes perfect sense for companies to avail themselves of all possible methods (software *and* laws) to protect their revenue streams, but lawbreakers, by definition, don't respect laws. Although most technical protection measures have been woefully inadequate to date (see, e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, to name a few), cryptographically-secure code is much more likely to be effective in the long-term than laws.

While this decision probably doesn't matter much for the average, non-tinkering consumer, tinkerers will be comforted by the fact that their hobby is no longer a crime, and without the threat of criminal sanctions, there should be more publicization of what the new mobile phones are really capable of. That, in turn, should put additional pressure on phone manufacturers to take off the training wheels and be a bit more open about what apps they allow on their devices.

While Apple is correct in pointing out that some users with jailbroken phones still call Apple's technical support lines, it is quite impossible to accidentally jailbreak your phone and all of the websites with instructions on how to do so have extensive disclaimers warning about the possible consequences. At some point, consumers should be responsible for their own actions. The Librarian of Congress is willing to give them that responsibility. And whether they want to or not, phone manufacturers will to.

posted by Adam Marcus @ 1:55 PM | IP , Software

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Research Shows Controversial Illness is Real and Treatable

CHARLESTON, S.C., July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Policyholders of America (POA) released a consensus statement written by treating physicians and researchers in the field on the mechanism and treatment of illness found in people sickened by exposure to water-damaged buildings. This illness has been the subject of heated debate that has resulted in harsh allegations being lobbed at patients by experts hired by industry to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the illness. Today however, so-called "Sick Building Syndrome" is now unveiled to be very real; it's a chronic inflammatory illness that is easily identified with available lab testing and treatable using FDA-approved medications. The research paper is the first in the field written by physicians with experience treating the illness. Thorough and rigorous, the paper references governmental agency opinions, current published literature and an extensive review of patient data that has made this subject a political and legal hot potato obstructing patient care.

Nearly six months ago, a distinguished and credentialed panel of medical doctors and researchers, all from outside of POA's membership, were assembled and charged with developing a consensus statement on the diagnosis and treatment of a growing public health problem across America: illness acquired from water-damaged buildings. The consensus statement was then peer-reviewed by other medical doctors and researchers. The research paper is being released to help physicians and their patients understand the mechanisms, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment protocols available for sickened patients.

After reviewing hundreds of peer reviewed studies, analyzing hard data from research conducted on thousands of patients, and incorporating published results of treatment of thousands of patients, the authors embarked on this massive assignment with eyes wide open -- knowing that if the resulting research did not lessen liability of the powerful stakeholders involved, industry would likely attempt to discredit the findings.

With the research now concluded, the mysterious illness now has a name: Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or "CIRS", and when the cause of the illness can be directly linked to a water-damaged building, or ("WDB"), it is called "CIRS-WDB".

Says Co-Author, Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, of Pocomoke, Maryland, "This statement builds consensus by debunking false ideas about illness from water-damaged buildings and establishes the basis by which practicing physicians can assess the complex illnesses these patients experience. We don't have to guess what might be wrong when we have the labs to prove what is abnormal. Patients don't have to suffer any longer after being given incorrect diagnoses such as allergy, stress or depression."

Co-authors included Laura Mark MD from Williamsburg, Virginia; Scott McMahon MD from Roswell, New Mexico; Jack Thrasher PhD of Oakland, California and Carl Grimes HHS, CIEC, President of the Indoor Air Quality Association, from Denver, Colorado.

The 161-page research paper can be found, in its entirety, at: http://www.policyholdersofamerica.org/doc/CIRS_PEER_REVIEWED_PAPER.pdf

A layperson's summary of the research paper follows:

•CIRS-WDB is a multisystem, multi-symptom illness acquired following exposure to the interior environment of WDB. It exists as a recognizable syndrome that is identifiable and treatable;
•CIRS-WDB is identified as immunologic in origin, with differential inflammatory responses seen according to (i) genetic susceptibility and (ii) unique aspects of host innate immune responses.
•CIRS-WDB consistently involves loss of normal control of inflammation and the resulting "inflammation gone wild."
•Treatment of human illness that is acquired following exposure to the interior environment of WDB involves a series of steps, each correcting the physiologic problems one by one.
•CIRS-WDB can be readily identified by current methods of clinical diagnoses. This process of diagnosis is supported by (i) identification of unique subsets ("clusters") of symptoms found in epidemiologic cohorts of affected patients; (ii) identification of unique groupings of biomarkers, such as genetic markers, neuropeptides, inflammatory markers, and autoimmune findings.
•Patients with CIRS-WDB are often given incorrect diagnoses such as depression, stress, allergy, fibromyalgia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and somatization. Those conditions, when actually present, will not improve with therapies employed in CIRS-WDB.
•CIRS-WDB is acquired primarily from inhalation of microbial products that are contaminants found in the complex mixture of WDB.
•Re-exposure of previously affected patients will bring about immunological host responses that are enhanced in their rapidity of onset and magnitude, such that these patients are "sicker, quicker."

Melinda Ballard, POA's president said, "About 25% of our members have experienced health effects after exposure to toxigenic mold and other organisms in their homes and of those, the vast majority put on the treatment protocol outlined in this paper have reported back to us that their symptoms have either subsided or vanished altogether. While our experience with these members is purely anecdotal, this research paper is not; the findings are irrefutable. Most importantly, the rigorous science in the paper offers hope to so many who are in desperate need of an effective and inexpensive treatment.

POA is a nonprofit educational organization that, at no charge, helps policyholders receive adequate payment when a property insurance claim is filed. Since it was founded in 2001, more than 2.5 million people have joined, an unfortunate reflection on the manner in which claims are often handled by insurance companies. Its web address is: www.policyholdersofamerica.org. POA is a member of ACHEMMIC (the Action Committee on the Health Effects of Mold, Microbes and Indoor Contaminants), a group of scientists, researchers, physicians, indoor air quality experts, environmental engineers, industrial hygienists, structural engineers, teachers and advocates working to advance the understanding of the health effects of mold, microbes and indoor contaminants. ACHEMMIC's website is www.achemmic.com.

Posted by: Frank white at August 3, 2010 2:59 PM

A tethered jailbreak requires that the device be connected to a computer each time it needs to be booted; an untethered jailbreak allows the device to be powered without computer assistance

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