While the oft-criticized Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal to bypass DRM, when the law was based back in 1998 a provision allowed the Librarian of Congress to grant certain exemptions. As Ars Technica
notes, the latest triennial review of DMCA exemptions
(pdf) again highlights how arbitrary and bizarre the DMCA can be. Under the latest exemptions, you're allowed to legally jailbreak your smartphone, but you're not allowed to jailbreak your tablet -- and overall, jailbreaking is something that the DMCA will be making illegal for phone bought in 2013 forward:
In 2006 and 2010, the Librarian of Congress had permitted users to unlock their phones to take them to a new carrier. Now that's coming to an end. While the new rules do contain a provision allowing phone unlocking, it comes with a crippling caveat: the phone must have been "originally acquired from the operator of a wireless telecommunications network or retailer no later than ninety days after the effective date of this exemption." In other words, phones you already have, as well as those purchased between now and next January, can be unlocked. But phones purchased after January 2013 can only be unlocked with the carrier's permission.
Jailbreaking isn't the only thing the Copyright Office declared a no no: the latest exemptions also declared that it's illegal to make personal copies of DVDs, and you can't legally modify your game console. Ars notes it's not just the DMCA that's absurd and broken, but the entire exemption process is so broken and comedic as to be out of a Terry Gilliam film:
Exemptions apply to the act of circumvention, but not to the separate provisions prohibiting "trafficking" in circumvention tools. So blind people who happen to be programmers are now free to write their own software to strip the DRM off their Kindle e-books in order to have them read aloud. But most blind people are not programmers. And anyone who supplies a blind person with the software needed to strip DRM from e-books is violating the "trafficking" provisions of the law even if the customer's use of the software is otherwise legal.
As all of this makes clear, the trend is toward making the DMCA even worse so that it prohibits you from having technological rights over the devices you've purchased and own.