The Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights have added anit-circumvention exemptions deeming that rooting or jailbreaking a phone is legal under fair use, as long as those phones are not used to distribute pirated software or copyrighted material. Every three years, exemptions are added to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) when it can be proven that access control technology is harming the public's ability to make use of copyrighted works in a non-infringing way.
There were six overall exemptions made by the Library of Congress this time around, including, DVDs, Jailbreaking/rooting, SecuROM and SafeDisc, E-books, and videogames. Check them out here. Head over to Ars Technica for a more detailed explanation on what everything means.
Below is the relevant part of the ruling for us Android users:
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.
Phandroid puts some context behind the recent ruling:
While no one has made too much of a fuss over the hacker community revolving around Google’s open-source operating system. the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) has had an ongoing battle with Apple over the legality of jailbreaking their iPhone handsets. Apple contends that jailbreaking weakens and violates the copy protection designed to preserve copyrighted aspects of iPhone software.
Engadget adds that "the DMCA still broadly forbids distributing to the public any "technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof" that's primarily designed to break access controls, so Apple can always go after the Dev Team directly..."
Image from AndroidGuys