Public Comment Period on Console Jailbreaking Ending Soon

March 1, 2012

Video game console makers Microsoft and Sony are squaring off against enthusiast hackers, academics, and organizations such as the EFF who would like to make the act of jailbreaking legal. There is already an exception in place that allows the iPhone to be jailbroken, so supporters of gaining similar allowances for the Xbox 360 and PS3 are urging the U.S. Copyright Office to make these exceptions. The copyright office is currently accepting public input comments on the subject until Friday, and will likely make a decision soon shortly thereafter.

The EFF argues that an exemption is needed to allow consumers to “use lawfully obtained software of their own choosing” on these systems – even if that software isn’t licensed by console manufacturers.

Microsoft and Sony are fighting back. In a statement sent to the U.S. Copyright Office, Sony wrote that jailbreaking the PS3 “will enable–indeed, may often be intended to facilitate–the unauthorized copying and commercial piracy of a large number of valuable copyrighted works.”

A Microsoft spokesman agreed with Sony, noting that it allows developers access to its Kinect technology without having to compromise its entire system:

“Kinect inspired game developers, entertainment brands, hobbyists, academics, and commercial partners to develop exciting new ways to use Kinect in areas we hadn’t planned on when we created it. We support this innovation,” says a Microsoft spokesman. “By contrast, the overwhelming goal of ‘hacking’ the Xbox 360 console is to remove security features in order to play illegally pirated game discs. The health of the video game business depends on customers paying for genuine products.”

Console makers are concerned about several issues that jailbreaking could enable: piracy and security. Proponents would simply like to have the ability to create and run software or boot up an alternative operating system like Linux. When the PS3 was first released, the OtherOS feature allowed users to run Linux, but the company later removed that option amid security concerns.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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