It's totally cool to "jailbreak" an iPhone to get around its DRM. Apple may not like that, but the courts say otherwise, so it has to abide. Video game consoles? Less cool. But that could soon change.
The reason the iPhone is exempt is because a few years back the Electronic Frontier Foundation successfully lobbied for its exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It is now asking for the same courtesy to be extended towards other "smartphones, electronic tablets, and video game consoles", which would mean owners of such devices would be free to "run operating systems and applications from any source, not just those approved by the manufacturer".
Jailbreaking of course already happens across all video game consoles, but if the EFF can win an exemption for them from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, then this act won't be undertaken under the threat of lawsuits from the various platform holders, such as those that erupted in the wake of this year's PS3 Jailbreak affair.
Indeed, the fallout from that mess is mentioned repeatedly by the EFF in its case, along with various claims that Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo's hardware protection measures are anti-competitive and are not in themselves a means to pirate games. It also gives big shot-outs to awesome sites like WiiBrew.
Could the EFF succeed? Who knows. After its success with the iPhone you can't say it doesn't stand a chance!
If you'd like to read the EFF's full case, you can check it out here.