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Jailbreaking Enables Software Piracy, BSA Tells Copyright Office in Hearing on DMCA Rules

Access controls for phones and media tablets are central to software distribution systems that benefit consumers and app developers

Washington, DC — June 5 —

Jailbreaking smartphones and media tablets undermines the value proposition they offer and pulls the rug out from under a software distribution model that has given rise to a staggering number of apps by thousands of independent developers, BSA testified today before the United States Copyright Office, which is hearing arguments on proposed exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

“Well over a million apps are available from thousands of individual software developers for the four top mobile software platforms,” said Jesse Feder, Director of International Trade and Intellectual Property at BSA, referring to Android, iOS, RIM, and Windows Phone. “Literally tens of billions of apps have been downloaded. There is fierce competition among the major software platforms and the multitude of apps that run on them. The range of choices available to consumers is truly mind-boggling.”

Against that backdrop, proponents of jailbreaking nonetheless invoke consumer choice and competition as a rationale for allowing it. Jailbreaking proponents also argue that a substantial class of consumers are harmed by their inability to install unapproved apps on the mobile device of their choice.

Feder countered that jailbreaking opens the door to copyright infringement. “Jailbreaking is a precondition for installing pirated software,” he said. “Technological protection measures are central to a distribution system that benefits consumers, independent app developers and third-party content creators, as well as developers of mobile operating systems. They are at the heart of a curated model of software distribution that gives consumers a level of assurance regarding quality and security, and gives app developers and content creators a level of assurance regarding antipiracy. The end result is a staggering number of apps that have been developed by thousands of independent developers and distributed to the public. Consumers have a vast array of choices, including hundreds of thousands of apps that are available for free.”

Access controls have led to widespread availability of copyrighted works, Feder noted. “In short, they are precisely the kind of ‘use-facilitating technological protection measures’ that Congress sought to promote.”

“The flip side of that proposition is that permitting the disabling of these controls decreases the value of copyrighted works by undermining the value proposition that the platform creator offers to users and independent developers,” Feder said. “A big factor in what makes a platform attractive to consumers is the availability and quality of applications that run on the platform. If a platform become less attractive to application developers, or if customers lose confidence in the quality or security of the apps available to run on it, they will be less likely to choose it, thus reducing the value of the platform and the software that runs it. For their part, app developers who experience high levels of piracy on a particular platform see the value of their works decline as they lose the ability to monetize them.”

About BSA

The Business Software Alliance ( is the leading global advocate for the software industry. It is an association of nearly 100 world-class companies that invest billions of dollars annually to create software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. Through international government relations, intellectual property enforcement and educational activities, BSA expands the horizons of the digital world and builds trust and confidence in the new technologies driving it forward.

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About BSA

BSA | The Software Alliance ( is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 60 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.
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