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Companies cannot legally void warranties for jailbreaking or rooting phones

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After I published an article about how electronics manufacturers including Microsoft and Sony illegally void the warranties of consumers who open their devices, I got a flood of emails from people wondering whether federal law protects their right to jailbreak or root their phones.

The short answer is yes, it does: Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975, manufacturers cannot legally void your hardware warranty simply because you altered the software of an electronic device. In order to void the warranty without violating federal law, the manufacturer must prove that the modifications you made directly led to a hardware malfunction.

“They have to show that the jailbreak caused the failure. If yes, they can void your claim (not your whole warranty—just the things which flowed from your mod),” Steve Lehto, a lemon law attorney in Michigan, told me in an email. “If not, then they can’t.”

In practice, of course, it’s all much more complicated.

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