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Is Gawker's "Apple Tablet Scavenger Hunt" Illegal?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the best-publicity-can't-be-bought dept.

Apple 172

theodp writes "Not too surprisingly, Apple was not amused by Valleywag's announcement of an Apple Tablet Scavenger Hunt, which offered cash prizes ranging from 10K-100K for info about the much-anticipated new Apple device. The promo prompted a threatening cease-and-desist letter from Apple's lawyers, which Valleywag deemed the most concrete evidence yet that there may indeed be a tablet in the works. But is the Scavenger Hunt really illegal, as the attorney claimed? The jury's still out, but Slate concludes Apple's got a pretty good case, although it notes that Valleywag's unconventional Scavenger Hunt 'stunt' may not really be all that different from 'reporting' practiced by mainstream publications like the WSJ."

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Poor Steve Jobs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800362)

He's just afraid that people will find out that there are competitive, affordable solutions without the $3500 logo tax which went to pay for his harvested Asian organs.

Anything could be illegal. (2, Funny)

neoshroom (324937) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801022)

"It would not be possible for Noah to do in our day what he was permitted to do in his own...The inspector would come and examine the Ark, and make all sorts of objections." -- Mark Twain

Who Cares (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800368)

I for one am sick of hearing about the apple tablet... either come out with it or dont but stop the crap

Re:Who Cares (2, Interesting)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800496)

I completely agree. Personally I'm getting sick of all of these apple tablet articles that seem to get posted at least once every 5 hours.

Re:Who Cares (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800610)

Hang on.. I'm just posting an article about how sick people are of aPple tAbleT stories.

Re:Who Cares (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800722)

are they sick of nigger jokes yet?

Re:Who Cares (1)

rliden (1473185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800820)

I'm pretty sure most of us have been tired of small minded insecure bigots for a lot longer than this.

Re:Who Cares (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800842)

speak for yourself nigger

slashvertising (4, Interesting)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801366)

Get used to it. It is exactly the same kind of campaign /. ran the six months before (and two years after, too) the iPhone came out. They are getting paid to feature articles about Apple products. It is the only way to explain why there have been hundreds of iPhone articles and about one (1) about N900 which is a phone that kicks iPhone's butt in every possible way. With free software to boot. I guess it keeps the bills payed.

Re:slashvertising (0, Offtopic)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801506)

It is the only way to explain why there have been hundreds of iPhone articles and about one (1) about N900 which is a phone that kicks iPhone's butt in every possible way.

So does the N900 have MMS already? Considering that was the most quoted reason not to buy an iPhone, I can understand Slashdot for not posting anything about a phone that still can't do that.

It's the new Duke Nukem Forever (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801554)

Indeed - it's the new Duke Nukem Forever. I suppose the Daily Iphone Story is getting old hat, so now it's moving on to vaporware. I could understand it if the point was to ridicule (as with DNF), but I get the feeling that these stories are serious...

I suspect many posters here are completely ignorant of the non-vaporware actual tablet devices that currently exist, due to the lack of coverage on them, and therefore claim the Apple tablet (if it's ever released) to be the another Apple "first". And then use that as an argument for why it should receive so much coverage! It's a circular self-fulfilling prophecy.

Re:Who Cares (2, Interesting)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801542)

This isn't about the Apple tablet - this story is about an PR gimmick for Valleywag. They don't expect to get any entries - they expect to get page hits.

Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800440)

The whole idea behind this question is to show that offering to pay someone to do something illegal is, in itself, illegal. Now are they asking someone to do something illegal? That is another question. In order to deliver the information they seek, is the party required to do something illegal? Surely it may be something where a civil law suit may result, but is such law limited to criminal acts?

You're an idiot. (0, Troll)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800522)

The whole idea behind this question is to show that offering to pay someone to do something illegal is, in itself, illegal.

So in your world, telling someone about a company's products is the same as murder?

Now are they asking someone to do something illegal?

Such as?

Last time I checked, telling people about a company's product isn't illegal.

Now, they may *possibly* be asking people to break and NDA, but that would be a civil matter, not a criminal one, and therefore it wouldn't be illegal.

Re:You're an idiot. (4, Informative)

crumbz (41803) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800562)

"Now, they may *possibly* be asking people to break and NDA, but that would be a civil matter, not a criminal one, and therefore it wouldn't be illegal."

Ummm.... inducement to break an NDA violates a civil statute. Therefore by definition it is illegal. Thus the civil penalties. It is simply not a criminal act under the Calif. code cited.

Re:You're an idiot. (0, Offtopic)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801194)

As the lawyer pointed out also, any unreleased products are trade secrets of a company. Inducing someone to disclose trade secrets is also a violation.

Re:You're an idiot. (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801510)

I'd hate to work for a company that was always threatening me. I feel bad for the people who work there... what a miserable way to live.

Re:You're an idiot. (2, Insightful)

Hunter0000 (1600071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800642)

So in your world, telling someone about a company's products is the same as murder?

Um, no. GP said nothing of the sort. GP in fact said nothing about the severity of the crime. If you want to make a real comparison, ask yourself if hiring someone to murder is illegal, as murder is illegal.

Or you could baselessly insult a commenter that didn't even attempt to make factual statements, and in fact is clearly just raising questions.

Now are they asking someone to do something illegal?

Such as?

Last time I checked, telling people about a company's product isn't illegal.

Now, they may *possibly* be asking people to break and NDA, but that would be a civil matter, not a criminal one, and therefore it wouldn't be illegal.

You seem to have missed the question mark, noting that GP was asking a question not making a statement of fact.

On topic, to me this seems a bit grey. Obtaining information about Apple's tablet is not illegal in and of itself - There are certainly ways to obtain the information that are illegal, but it is not clear that there are no ways to do so legally.

Re:You're an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800686)

Wow. Way to jump down someone's throat with a straw man argument. Did the OP mention anything about the comparative severity of different crimes?

Someone's an idiot here, but it sure isn't him.

Re:You're an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800700)

Apple is a religion - not a company.

Re:You're an idiot. (0, Troll)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800776)

and the Catholic church is a business as well. what's your point?

Re:You're an idiot. (4, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800756)

Now, they may *possibly* be asking people to break and NDA, but that would be a civil matter, not a criminal one, and therefore it wouldn't be illegal.

The legal problem is not the NDA, but opening a trade secret to the public. Both doing it and inducing a person to do so is illegal under Californian law.

Re:You're an idiot. (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801140)

Its not illegal to take a picture of Steve Jobs stuck in traffic and deciding to fire up his iTablet to pass the time.

Nothing in the original offer (see 1st link in story) said that someone had to break in, or break a NDA or any such.

Opening a trade secret is also not against the law once the trade secret somehow leaves the private offices of the holder. You can't hire buglers, but you can hire long-lens photographers.

Re:You're an idiot. (4, Informative)

kjart (941720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800800)

Last time I checked, telling people about a company's product isn't illegal.

IANAL, but I can read Wikipedia (emphasis added):

Another significant development in U.S. law is the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. 1831–1839), which makes the theft or misappropriation of a trade secret a federal crime. This law contains two provisions criminalizing two sorts of activity. The first, 18 U.S.C. 1831(a), criminalizes the theft of trade secrets to benefit foreign powers. The second, 18 U.S.C. 1832, criminalizes their theft for commercial or economic purposes. (The statutory penalties are different for the two offenses.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_secrets

So, as an example, if Apple could argue that the information in question is a trade secret (and they have done so in the past) then divulging that information may very well be a crime.

PS: You should work on your reading comprehension before you go around calling people idiots.

Re:You're an idiot. (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801186)

Only if apple keeps it absolute secret. Drive one down the street to Steve's house and you pretty much gave up secrecy. Hold it up by a window while training "Geniuses", ditto.

The key word is "Theft". It is not at all clear that a photograph is theft. If it were there would be no paparazzi in California.

Re:You're an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800916)

So in your world, telling someone about a company's products is the same as murder?

You tell them! Telling someone about a company's product is something the Nazis would do.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800530)

The whole idea behind this question is to show that offering to pay someone to do something illegal is, in itself, illegal

    No it isn't. There is absolutely nothing illegal about talking about a commercial product before release. It's entirely a civil matter.

          Brett

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

Otterley (29945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800616)

Breaking a civil law is still illegal. (Put differently, you don't have to commit a criminal act for something to be illegal.)

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (0, Troll)

Threni (635302) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800812)

> Breaking a civil law is still illegal.

Depends where you are, and the law. You should phrase it differently if you don't want a pointless argument. Contract law is civil law in the UK. If you work for me and your contract says you have to give 3 months notice and you win the lottery and don't turn up for work any more then I could take action against you for breach of contract, but you're not a criminal - you've broken no laws, and even I sued you and won you won't have a criminal record. So your statement in that case would be incorrect. Even if you found one or more examples of breach of civil law being against the law, it wouldn't make your statement any clearer.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1, Funny)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801574)

Since this is about California, what does UK law have to do with anything? There is a topic here, you know.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801162)

But they aren't offering money for "talking about a commercial product before release" - if they did, we'd all be rich.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

txoof (553270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800606)

Doesn't the onus to follow the law fall on the person providing the information? If a person were to say break into Apple and snap pictures and then provide the pictures to Gawker, wouldn't they be the party to prosecuted, not Gawker? From reading the Slate article [slate.com] it appears that Gawker might be protected if they are not actively soliciting people to break the law and reveal trade secrets. If an individual shows up at their office with the product and assures the editors that they have the right to share this, anything published is fair game. If, on the other hand it can be shown that Gawker knows that the product was obtained illegally or that the person sharing the product is breaking the law, they probably don't have a leg to stand on.

It is pretty obvious that Apple has something brewing by their instantaneous lawyering up though. I am getting a little sick of the play by play speculation however. I'm interested in new gadgets, but I'll read about 'em a few months after they're released so I can get the good, bad and ugly of it all rather than the Jobsesque hype.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (5, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800736)

This is a clause from Gawkers contest rules:

By submitting any photo or information to Gawker Media, you hereby represent and warrant that the submitted photo or information does not and shall not infringe on any copyright, any rights of privacy or publicity of any person, or any other right of any third party, and you have the right to grant any and all rights and licenses granted to Gawker Media herein, including but not limited to all necessary rights under copyright, free and clear of any claims or encumbrances;

That makes it pretty clear that they don't expect people to share information illegally.

I guess everyone involved gets some publicity though.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30801184)

If you pay someone to kill someone, you are still liable for the murder. Hiring someone to perform an illegal act on your behalf doesn't protect you. In fact it adds in a conspiracy charge.

In Gawker's case, they know there is no way to gather the information legally. Apple has been quite clear that they don't comment on possible future products & have very explicit NDAs for any contractors or suppliers in that regard. The only way to retrieve information before a public announcement would be if someone broke their NDA. Inciting someone to break an NDA for a reward, as Gawker is doing has no legal protection.

Also, it's best not to think that Apple sending a C&D letter is a confirmation of any type of product. Apple has had many prototypes of all kinds of devices over the years. Bringing a product to market and protecting against release of information about research are different things. Apple is very protective of any release of information, so this could just be that normal protection.

In this case, is it possible Apple is planning to release a tablet? Of course, & using normal investigative means of looking at a ripe market, existence of core expertise within Apple, as well as an opportunity for Apple to succeed could all lead to supposition. However, that is nothing more than an educated guess.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

rliden (1473185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800922)

I don't think this has anything to do with showing illegalities. Apple loves this sort of attention and the legal threat is their standard procedure. If they hadn't made legal motions against this I think there would have been many more people wondering what they're up to. The C&Ds and legal motions is Apple's way of generating even more publicity via the Streisand Effect.

I always wonder if these events are just astroturfing at it's finest.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801726)

That pretty much sums it up -- They did it because it was expected. It would have caused more confusion (especially for everyone who's examining Apple's actions with a microscope) if they *hadn't* taken legal action. Whether or not it's illegal is immaterial.
Action: Somebody does something that Apple doesn't like; Reaction: Apple sues them. If it's not illegal, the court will throw it out, but by then the "act of suing" will have already taken place. This serves both to promote the notion that "thou shalt not F with Apple", and it draws more attention (which is then turned into hype).

I'd like to congratulate both Gawker and Apple for a successful, and fruitful (as evident by this discussion) business partnership.
Maybe I should also add Slashdot to that list, and everyone else who's talking about it with their ads displayed alongside the discussion.

Thank goodness for us, the suckers who huddle around the water cooler and pay for the privilege with our attention. Also, let's not forget everyone (including me) who's posting on this thread, for putting in the time to boost Apple's hype machine.

It's possible that Apple has found a way to make a business model out of *doing nothing*. Truly, *that* is innovation.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800950)

offering to pay someone to do something illegal is, in itself, illegal.

I think something has been overlooked here... the scavenger hunt does NOT suggest doing anything illegal. It actually has legitimate basis if you look at it from another admittedly fairly unlikely angle.

Apple's had enough experience in the NDA arena that I think we can expect nearly flawless coverage. But there remains the possibility that someone, somewhere, was allowed access within cameraphone range of an iSlate without being NDA'd.

There's also the shaky ground of coming into possession of an actual unit somewhere like ebay where it was originally illegally obtained, and has passed through several hands and now can only go on the grounds of "it's likely stolen", not based on the actual circumstances they got it under, but rather in the sheer unlikelyhood that anyone ever had a legal right of sale to produce an available unit on the market.

But we're still (for the most part anyway...) in an "innocent until proven guilty" legal system here. There are a few completely legal ways ot obtain an iSlate, and quite a few legal ways to obtain pictures etc. (though these are all still fairly improbable to have occurred)

Heck, one of the beta testers could have left one sitting on the roof of his car when he pulled out of the parking lot, and someone found it laying on the side of the road somewhere. There would be absolutely nothing illegal about the finder selling that to these guys.

One of the beta testers may have taken the unit home to play with, and ordered pizza that night. The pizza delivery guy may have had a cameraphone and a sharp eye when he delivered and was told to "just set it in there on the table" and noticed the empty iSlate packaging box and got a few shots of the packaging materials.

You can't just assume for certain that things like this can only be obtained illegally.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801150)

But there remains the possibility that someone, somewhere, was allowed access within cameraphone range of an iSlate without being NDA'd.

No need for a cameraphone, although the irony of using an Apple iPhone to spy on the iSlate would be hilarious. All you need to do is be within security camera range... And thanks to a blind love of 1984 style Big Brother, that is everywhere, right?

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801096)

Nothing was said or suggested about paying someone to do something illegal.

Follow the first link and see Exactly what it offered.

If Apple is bold enough to bring a "secret" device out in public and photos are obtained its their own damn fault. In this country trade secrets are only protected as long as you keep it secret. Bring it out in public, or allow someone to take pictures, and all protection is lost.

I think the lawyer opened himself up for a bar inquiry by sending a threatening letter before the fact.

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801228)

Even if the entire offer was a Joke, the courts could consider the offering of money as an inducement to violate trade secrets, thus giving the Go Ahead to the pursuit of a major lawsuit. Anyone who actually accepts the money and provides what has been requested, then opens them up to a criminal investigation of Industrial Espionage. "Jonny Menomic" was based upon the entire precept of Industrial Espionage wasn't it?

Re:Is putting a bounty on someone's life illegal? (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801742)

But that's not what is at issue here.

What is at issue is whether a private entity has a right to control information about itself, aside from what it must disclose to meet its legal obligations (e.g. in SEC filings).

To a first approximation, the way the law in the US works with respect to private secrets is once you let them out of the bag, they aren't secrets any longer. That embarrassing purchase you made on Amazon? They can tell the world all about it. In fact, you have to assume to *do*, they just do it in a way that's hard for you to find out. They have to, because if they want to continue selling rubber solace for the lonely gentlemen, they have to be discreet about being indiscreet. As long as you're the last to know everyone is happy. (note ironic tone)

Now when a company creates a product like this, there's no way to keep information from leaking. They can sign all their employees and suppliers to an NDA, but information leaks, and once somebody is in possession of information that he received without doing anything illegal to get it, it's his to do whatever he wants.

If you overhear two Apple employees discussing the new secret device at the next restaurant booth, you're free to tell the world. If you're working for the caterer for a party at Apple HQ and see an exec showing of a strange new device, you're free to tell the world.

Even if you receive information by illegitimate channels, for *trade secrets* the situation is not so clear. If you entice an Apple employee to break his NDA, that's bad for you, but if a disgruntled Apple employee throws the specs of the device over your transom, it's a different kettle of fish. Of course consult your lawyer if this ever happens.

It's interesting that the article is claiming that *copyright* suit threats are being made, because there is strong common law copyright protection for unpublished works. Basically, an unpublished work is *yours* in a much more fundamental way than a published work is. The public copyright deal, fair use and all that doesn't come into it.

Now many aspects of successful Apple products could plausibly be claimed as different kinds of intellectual property. Some might be trademarked, some might be patented, others might be copyrighted. But the mere *fact* that Apple is working on a product of a certain type could only be considered a trade secret, and such information is legally a secret only so long as they manage to keep that knowledge away from anyone who hasn't signed an NDA.

If the article is accurate (don't count on it) this would be one of those nasty situations where lawyers try to conjure whole new classes of rights for their clients out of existing rights of a completely different nature. Sometimes they can obtain greater *de facto* rights for their client by sending nasty sounding C&D letters that play fast and loose with the law. That's good for their clients, but bad for society, and bad for the law if it values voluntary cooperation by citizens.

It's in the wording, I think.... (4, Interesting)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800446)

""We encourage you to stay within the bounds of the law", they say. The problem, I think, is that "encourage" isn't enough.

If they had actually _required_ that submissions be obtained within the bounds of the law, there's nothing Apple could have remotely done to them about this, even if they don't happen to like it.

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (2, Interesting)

Otterley (29945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800578)

I'm not even sure that matters. It's like saying "go rob a bank, but make sure you do it legally."

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800664)

no, it's not like saying "go rob a bank," it's like saying "go get money from that bank or its ATM but stay within the bounds of the law." Giving out information is not criminal matter (notwithstanding government classified information), while robbing a bank is a criminal matter.

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800918)

I disagree.

If I can find a way to legally rob a bank, I should be allowed to do so.
It can _then_ be made illegal, but ex pos facto says i get off scott free.

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30801632)

What the hell are yo talking about? Robbery is "the felonious taking of the property of another from his or her person or in his or her immediate presence, against his or her will, by violence or intimidation.". I think what you are trying to say is "if I can find a way to legally get money from a bank that probably shouldn't be legal", and that's an entirely different thing.

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (3, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800590)

Yup, if they're smart they'd have just put a checkbox on the submission form:

"By checking this box you declare that you are not barred by law from sharing this photo."

If they later get complaints to the contrary they can of course take the photo back down (after taking the proper time to investigate the complaint and ensure that it is legitimate). After all, how could they tell that the photo was posted illegally?

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (1)

txoof (553270) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800652)

If they later get complaints to the contrary they can of course take the photo back down (after taking the proper time to investigate the complaint and ensure that it is legitimate). After all, how could they tell that the photo was posted illegally?

By "after taking the proper time to investigate" do you mean giving everyone, their brother, sister, cat, dog and grandma a chance to mirror it, convert it into art and write it into poetry [loyalty.org] to allow ensure that it's protected under Amendment 1?

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801188)

Rumor is that Apple is going to announce it anyway in about 10 days, so it's not like anyone (besides Apple and Gawker, possibly) will give a shit about all this after that, anyway.

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800708)

I think they don't encourage [gawker.com] , they advise.

If you read between the lines, it seems like they encourage doing the opposite of what they advise...

Apple, of course, has plenty of good lawyers like Michael Spillner, so we reiterate our advice "to stay within the bounds of the law." And also: use anonymous email addresses! We can't tell Apple who you are if we don't know who you are.

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800752)

There are more rules:

http://advertising.gawker.com/legal/contest-rules/ [gawker.com]

One of them says to make sure you have the right to share the content with Gawker.

Re:It's in the wording, I think.... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800780)

Its impossible to say though what is within the bounds of the law. For example, if someone gave you the specs of a new graphics card how do you know if it was under an NDA or not? So either way, it wouldn't work.

controlled leak (2, Interesting)

fran6gagne (1467469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800472)

Now that their controlled leaks (reference [slashdot.org] ) has created too much hype, Apple is leaking in their pants and fear that the thing will go too far. If would be Apple, I would say Good luck to Gawker and thanks for all the free publicity.

Re:controlled leak (2, Funny)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800710)

maybe apple is going for a controlled streisand effect?

Re:controlled leak (1)

JackDW (904211) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801044)

No, this article is still serving their agenda. All publicity is good. Last week's Apple publicity was about how Apple masterminds controlled leaks. This week's Apple publicity is about how Apple stops leaks. It's irrelevant what the news says, because the key concept is "Apple is doing something".

Sometimes people say "I'm not buying any Apple products in protest against their consistently unethical behaviour". But with a few very rare exceptions, those people were never Apple customers anyway. In a very real sense it is irrelevant what Apple does, provided that something is happening.

The real ones at risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800488)

Most of the people with "inside info" are going to be under confidentiality contracts. The web site is under less risk than the sources. The lawsuits they face will dwarf the 100K max offer.

Re:The real ones at risk (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800778)

Yes... Most of the people with "inside" info are going to be under confidentiality cracks.

What if someone isn't? What if someone made a mistake, and a person has the goods or has seen or come into detailed info about the goods, who isn't under any contract?

For example, someone with inside info, or a prototype could have already (accidentally) broke their agreement, and inadvertently revealed info to a friend, family member, or other third-party, who has not signed any secrecy agreement.

Or have inadvertently placed the item or the material in a place where someone who didn't sign any contracts could legally get a peek at it.

Materials containing sensitive info could have accidentally been thrown away without destruction at some facility, allowing someone to root in the dumpster outside and get legit info...

With the scavenger hunt on, now there is much more incentive for such a person (who isn't under NDA), to spill the beans.

I'm not sure of Apple's security practices, but now, they probably need to be even more careful than ever before to protect the secrecy.

Now there is a real financial incentive for someone having no formal NDA in place, to do the immoral thing.

I'll claim the prize (2, Informative)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800508)

The Apple tablet will feature a 9.5'' by 7.5'' display using a new version of E-Ink(TM) technology through which the tablet will display color while having the display consume no power unless something changes. There will be an integrated and optimized sleep mode which the tablet can fall into while maintaining a color picture, and this mode takes a mere 135 ms to get out of, so even applications like slideshows will use it. The processor has multiple power modes, allowing it to go between 500 MHz and 3.7 GHz depending on the task. Expected battery life, with all this, is 18-36 hours of average use. The screen will contain piezoelectric materials that can add a tactile layer to the onscreen keyboard. Professional typists have been found to be 80-90% as effective with this keyboard as with a traditional one, and thanks to ridges being put onto window edges and buttons blind people are seeing a GUI productivity increase of 300-400%.

What do you mean, that's all bullshit? Prove it! I'll be collecting my prize for now.

Re:I'll claim the prize (2, Informative)

capnkr (1153623) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800576)

Terms of the 'bounty' payout state that they will not pay until *after* they have seen the real thing (if, yawn, it exists...) after release by Apple, in order to be sure that what the claimant shows is indeed a real Apple tablet.

Me, I have no idea why a short-term preview of some computer hardware could be worth so much money. Seems ridiculous, and overly fanboi-ish/hyped...

Re:I'll claim the prize (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800702)

The prize is for a photo.... and although a picture is worth a thousand words, your description only contains 161 words, and so would not be eligible.

Re:I'll claim the prize (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800808)

I don't think it is. It's not even a tablet, it's a netbook. I will explain why.

First, tablets are a niche, and the iPod touch fills in a lot of that niche. Secondly, the new device is expected to fill in between the ipods and the laptops, but a tablet would likely be more expensive than the laptop (unless Apple has some seriously revolutionary technology that none of us have heard of). Third, there is a huge obvious market for an Apple netbook (have you ever met anyone who thought of getting an Apple, but it was too expensive? It's a huge market).

Finally, last year at the first quarter investor conference call, someone asked Tim Cook if they had any plans for releasing a netbook, and Tim sounded like a deer caught in the headlights. Finally he said, "It's a small market right now, but we're watching it, and if it takes off we have some good ideas."

Finally, I'm going to say once again, tablets just aren't that useful compared to laptops with keyboards.

Re:I'll claim the prize (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800910)

Finally, I'm going to say once again, tablets just aren't that useful compared to laptops with keyboards.

A lot of the rumors point less to a generalized tablet and more to something like a super-high-end Kindle. Imagine a sleeker version of the Kindle DX with a hybrid e-paper LCD screen capable of displaying web pages or movies in full color, including a multitouch screen and a modified iPhone OS.

Still rumor at this point, but it makes a little more sense than the idea of marketing it as a low-end netbook in tablet form at a $1000 price point.

Re:I'll claim the prize (1)

freedumb2000 (966222) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800968)

And to extend Itunes to carry books. It makes sense.

Re:I'll claim the prize (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801106)

Yup. They're already selling audio books. It's not a stretch at all.

I just have to wonder, at what point do they rebrand the iTunes Music Store? I guess they've already dropped the "Music" part of the name in most places, but "iTunes" hardly seems fitting anymore for the name of the store or the application itself. The store sells movies, TV shows, and software in addition to "tunes".

Re:I'll claim the prize (1)

indiechild (541156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801258)

Steve Jobs hates netbooks, they aren't going to be releasing a netbook under his watch. The MacBook Air is the closest thing you're ever going to see to a netbook from Apple.

Re:I'll claim the prize (2, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801440)

Why does Steve Jobs hate netbooks? This article [gizmodo.com] seems to indicate he is open to the idea.

Re:I'll claim the prize (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801588)

Ah yes, the Air. I remember how the Macbook Air was loved and praised here as Yet Another Apple First here on Slashdot, on the grounds that it was a mm smaller than the smallest laptop. Then they promptly went very quiet, as netbooks appeared on the market, offering much smaller devices at about 10% of the price, and we never heard about the Air again...

Re:I'll claim the prize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30801314)

What do you mean, that's all bullshit? Prove it!

blind people are seeing

Logical impossibility. QED.

This is a strategic lawsuit (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800540)

Ooh, Apple is building some next generation super-secret technology and even speaking about it will get you lawyered into oblivion. They're just artificially creating marketing hype.

mod 3owN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800552)

distended. All I Any parting shot, thou6h I have never want them there.

About the author (2, Insightful)

ifwm (687373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800560)

"Ben Sheffner is an attorney at NBC Universal"

Which explains the bias I detected in the article. I repeatedly found the examples he used to support Apple's hypothetical "case" to be missing key details.

That's not to say Apple doesn't have a case (I have no idea really) but I'm always suspicious of people who intentionally omit important details.

Bad Idea (1)

WarpedCore (1255156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800604)

They're encouraging people to divulge internal information about a company that a company itself isn't willing to make publicly available yet. It'd be like AMD making a contest to confirm wild speculation and to divulge information about new Intel chips. It's more or less a corporate espionage contest. Nowhere is it even close to a media outlet paying for pictures or an exclusive. It's asking people to subvert information about upcoming Apple products. The lawyers at Apple are likely are doing Valleywag a favor by telling them to pull the contest. The blog would be liable for instigating and promoting the stunt. To me, it'd be like a radio station telling people to hold their piss for a Wii (did happen, a lady died, and the radio company paid money). It's just a bad idea.

Re:Bad Idea (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800762)

It's not outside of what is physically possible that somebody, somewhere, happens to have the sort of information that gawker is asking for and ISN'T under any sort of NDA, and did not resort to any sort of deception or fraud to acquire it in the first place.

It's incredibly unlikely, but not impossible.

How is this different ... (5, Interesting)

thephydes (727739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800634)

.... to car magazines paying a bounty for pix of yet to be released models?

Re:How is this different ... (1)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800988)

Most of the pix are taken on the public roads surrounding Maranello. I don't know that I have ever seen any pictures from inside a metal stamping plant or something.

Public View (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801368)

If the contest were to get images of the tablet in public, it too would be legal. But when would that happen? Realistically, never.

Cars however to be well tested, have to be driven on real roads - and so are out in public often enough that people can get perfectly legal spy shots (though the cars usually have some kind of misleading or obscuring trim).

Corporate Espionage (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800674)

IANAL but this could be considered "Corporate Espionage [google.com] " which could be illegal because depending on how you look at it the fact they are offering cash for trade secrets, corporate secrets and otherwise proprietary information may be considered bribery (although bribery is rarely made public like this)

Probably Illegal (1)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800726)

I'd wager it's illegal - the "prize" is really just an open bounty on industrial espionage. Not sure, but that sounds pretty illegal to me. This isn't a scavenger hunt for "an apple, a blue dress, and page 297 from the phone book". This is the hunt for corporate secrets. Pretty clear cut to me and I'd image that high priced lawyers can make it even more clear cut than I can.

Not necessarily. (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800738)

While Apple may be keeping it under wraps, it is still conceivable that Apple may expose someone to the tablet without making them sign an NDA. A preemptive lawsuit ASSUMES that everyone that knows about the tablet is under NDA, but you can never make that assumption.

Re:Not necessarily. (1)

Xuranova (160813) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801002)

You don't have to assume that since Apple's lawyer pretty much said anybody you could get some information worth anything is under an NDA and breaking it. Let's assume there exists a list somewhere of everyone who is SUPPOSED to have seen it and in turn is under an NDA. If you get useful information from someone who isn't on that list, I have no doubt Apple will sue that person to find out who on that list they got it from and go after them. If by some chance, the person the source got it from wasn't on the list, the cycle starts over again. In the end, Apple is gonna find someone to take the fall.

Re:Not necessarily. (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801036)

Doesn't matter what their lawyer said. It is still possible and conceivable. Hell, it could happen due to forgetting to give someone the right paperwork. Or any other possible scenario, really. It doesn't really matter what Apple says.

Re:Not necessarily. (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801720)

Doesn't matter what their lawyer said. It is still possible and conceivable. Hell, it could happen due to forgetting to give someone the right paperwork. Or any other possible scenario, really. It doesn't really matter what Apple says.

You're right that it's possible. Given Apple's security policies, though, it's extremely unlikely.

I once worked for a company that contracted with Apple to tend Macintosh retail displays at Circuit City, Sears and other retailers. I had absolutely no access to advance, proprietary information or trade secrets but I still had to sign an Apple NDA. I suspect that anyone who visits 1 Infinite Loop has to sign one before they are even allowed to leave the lobby and I'd be very, very surprised if any of the prototypes of this new product (whatever it turns out to be) has ever been outside Apple's premises.

What NDA? (2, Insightful)

Sephr (1356341) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800740)

If this scavenger hunt is illegal, it would also be illegal for me to offer $10k to anyone who brings me the top-secret Microsoft Phone. For it to be illegal, Apple has to admit that there are specific NDAs stopping their employees from saying anything about their tablet. Without official confirmation of a specific NDA, there's no reason this should be illegal. I don't know that there could be NDAs for the Microsoft Phone, so why should it be illegal to offer a reward for it?

Re:What NDA? (1)

Xuranova (160813) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801072)

Is that like saying Coca Cola couldn't sue you for offering cash for (either in its entirety or a part of) their secret coke recipe unless they are willing to show you an NDA that has their coke recipe?

I don't see their legal team agreeing with you.

Re:What NDA? (1)

Sephr (1356341) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801114)

Your analogy would be closer to the scavenger hunt asking for the source code for the tablet's OS programs. My point is that Apple isn't even admitting that the tablet exists (or doesn't exist) so there's no harm in asking for something that doesn't exist according to Apple in the first place. The Coca-Cola company admits that they have a secret recipe that actually exists.

Re:What NDA? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30801484)

No, it's like offering cash for anyone with any information about Coca Cola's new beverage.

Re:What NDA? (2, Informative)

yabos (719499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801362)

When you go to work for Apple and just about every other company in existence, you sign an NDA. There might not be any specific tablet NDA, it's just covered under the general one you sign saying you won't release trade secrets before the company does.

Re:What NDA? (1)

Sephr (1356341) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801460)

Unless you work for Apple specifically and signed the specific NDA that I'm talking about in the main post, there was no NDA until Apple says there was. The point is that without telling me there is an NDA to begin with, I would take their legal threats with a grain of salt. You don't have to legally assume that you know what the rules of a specific NDA are or that it even exists. If you had to legally assume this, it'd be illegal to pay for tips of rumors, which many websites do.

I have played this before.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800760)

One company offering money for independent operators to acquire a sample of another company's beta product. Life is more like Shadowrun every day.

Controlled leaks. (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800802)

I think if the nature of Apple's controlled leaks gets to be put up for grabs here, then what defense does Apple have?

Quite frankly I just want Apple to shit or get off the pot. It's been nearly a decade and a half that the supposed tablet's been rumored. Let's either get it out or say once adn for all, "NO."

Really?! (2, Insightful)

awyeah (70462) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800856)

This may be a bit off topic - but don't people have better things to do? I, for one, will likely come across one of the many news stories that are sure to be published if/when Apple releases this thing. At that point, I will read the story, read reviews, visit Apple's web site, and determine if this device is something I would like to purchase.

Until then, I'm going to go do other things.

Doing it Legally (1)

Prien715 (251944) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800886)

It's possible to find this information legally.

There's certain places in the world that have different views on IP law, and while contractually bound from doing such a thing here, such provision might not hold up there.

civil action vs. criminal action (1)

davek (18465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800908)

It is fully within Apple's right to send the cease-and-desist letters to Valleywag. Its basically telling them "if you continue this, we will sue you for damages, and we will win." I see no action taken by the attorney general on anyone's behalf, since almost all speech -- even speech prohibited by another party by contract -- is protected by the US constitution. However, the constitution does not protect you from the consequences of that speech, including being sued for large sums of money.

What if Valleywag received word that Apple was using lead and arsenic in their new tablet product. How could it be illegal for them to publish this information?

Trade Secret (1)

devils_taco (827882) | more than 4 years ago | (#30800946)

In order for something to be a trade secret, they have to keep it secret. A photo snapped in public should be clear for publication.

Corporate America (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30800978)

Remember now, it's big business that dictates what is legal and illegal now.
The hell with the US Congress and the constitution, we all know corporate
America is calling the shots now.

I, for one, am ready to lead the revolution.

Asus Eee Pad! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30801146)

Is much more exciting, http://www.engadget.com/2010/01/17/asus-dr-570-e-reader-to-sport-6-inch-oled-color-screen-122-hour?icid=sphere_blogsmith_inpage_engadget

Sueing over something that do not exist? (1)

synoniem (512936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801222)

Can you sue someone for something that does not exist? So far Apple denies the existance of a tablet what ground do they have to go after this hunt for information?

Gawker websites (3, Interesting)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801504)

Personally, it's my opinion that Gawker sites aren't real news sites and they rely on controversial things, like this to get people looking at their sites. For instance, looking at Kotaku reveals that it's mainly just a bunch of low grade crap that you used to find on someone's Geocities site. The stuff of real substance can be found elsewhere on a site like Edge Online and you don't have to sift through the crap that's padding out the site to get you looking at more ads.

They really are just paparazzi "journalists" and we don't really need their type plaguing the technology sector. It would be nice if they went away.

One wonders... (1)

zkiwi34 (974563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801514)

If the same thing happened to Microsoft, for example they could have said, "We offer you cash to provide proof that Microsoft has done [insert random suspicious act here], but please try to do it legally." Well, I wonder how fast Microsoft's lawyers would have been loosed on whoever made that offer.

Where's the crime? (1)

bXTr (123510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30801604)

If the Apple Tablet didn't exist, the lawyers wouldn't be sending the C&D. People wouldn't sign an NDA if there's nothing to disclose. Maybe the lawyers just want to claim the prize money. Either way, if no one is induced to say anything to Valleywag, no money is paid. Where's the crime?
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