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Judge Finds For Apple in ThinkSecret Case

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the you-lose-some dept.

The Courts 711

An anonymous reader writes: "In a case with implications for the freedom to blog, a San Jose judge tentatively ruled Thursday that Apple Computer can force three online publishers to surrender the names of confidential sources who disclosed information about the company's upcoming products. The San Jose news piece has the most detail on the ruling while Mac Daily News has some background on the case, and Gizmodo vociferously expresses an opinion on the lawsuit. We've covered the case in the past as well.

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711 comments

Journalists' Sources, are, of course, Protected... (1, Insightful)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843455)

...but are these "three online publishers" journalists?

I'll vote 'No.'

Re:Journalists' Sources, are, of course, Protected (5, Informative)

Trigun (685027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843517)

Journalists sources are most definitely NOT protected. Journalists do not have a legal right to obstruct justice.

It's been a long standing tradition, but there is no federal law concerning it. This has all been explained due to the outing of a CIA operative by a republican schill.

O'Grady's powerpage definitely NOT journalism (2)

adzoox (615327) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843625)

I'll vote that O'Grady's Powerpage is DEFINITELY NOT! That site has tanked in the past few months-year.

And talk about freedom of speech? When The PowerPage readers started challenging what O'Grady was posting on his website and just spitting out rants about how Apple sucks, he ended all comments - now you can't comment on articles any more.

Re:Journalists' Sources, are, of course, Protected (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843626)

sorry but judges enjoy throwing a journalist in jail in an attempt to force them to revela their sources.

this is nothing new.

judges get all pissy when someone tells them no.

Re:Journalists' Sources, are, of course, Protected (1)

danheskett (178529) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843628)

As another poster noted, there is no federal journalist shield law, and only some states have them, and in only some cases.

Anonymous sourcing was designed to protect individuals from retaliation and give a whistleblower a chance to live a normal life.

At this point though, with how our culture has developed, anonymous sources are a scourage in my opinion. There are numerous cases of anonymous sources being up and out fabricated, and used a cover for rumor and gossip by journalists.

If people want rumors and gossip, fine. Let journalists give it to us straight: this is what we heard at a cocktail party, or at a bar, or what I dreamed up in the shower, or what seems likely given the circumstance.

It's such a game now in other areanas that anonymous "tipsters" argue over the exact wording of how they will be credited "an insider with years of service" or "a high-ranking government offical" etc.

The assumption that journalists are protected is, really, not right in most cases!

Re:Journalists' Sources, are, of course, Protected (4, Insightful)

ignipotentis (461249) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843634)

And Dan Rather is?

I'm about to reference a Daily Show here, but it still is a fact. Recently, CNN (along with other major "journalism" places) broadcast a story they claimed to be breaking when what they were really doing was reading someones blog.

Face it, If you can publish to the web, and report information which has been given to you/you find, you are a journalist. If you do not fact check and post everything you get, then you are a bad journalist, but still, a journalist.

Re:Journalists' Sources, are, of course, Protected (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843668)

journalist

n.

1. One whose occupation is journalism.
2. One who keeps a journal.

journal

n.

1.
1. A personal record of occurrences, experiences, and reflections kept on a regular basis; a diary.
2. An official record of daily proceedings, as of a legislative body.
3. Nautical. A ship's log.
2. Accounting.
1. A daybook.
2. A book of original entry in a double-entry system, listing all transactions and indicating the accounts to which they belong.
3. A newspaper.
4. A periodical presenting articles on a particular subject: a medical journal.
5. The part of a machine shaft or axle supported by a bearing.

Re:Journalists' Sources, are, of course, Protected (4, Insightful)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843747)

Nope. When a journalist gets secret information and tries to protect the source, it's usually for the reason that it's information the public has a right, or neeed to know. Someone is doing something underhanded, etc, that the public should know about and have the right to correct or to react to. It's done for the public good.

There is nothing about the release of Apple's internal plans that was 'for the public good'. The only good was for Apple's competitors. They could now see what Apple was planning and react to it.

These publishers and their sources should be hammered by the court IMHO.

Now correct me if im wrong... (2, Interesting)

thegoogler (792786) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843456)

But isn't there a law that says journalists can protect there sources?

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (1)

prsce96 (815315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843489)

I don't think so. Here's a link to the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press (amateurish webstie) listing journalists jailed for failing to disclose sources: http://www.rcfp.org/jail.html

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (5, Informative)

Arbin (570266) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843496)

Yes there is, but if you had read the article you would have seen that the Judge did NOT consider these bloggers journalists. RTFA.

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (1)

thegoogler (792786) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843569)

"if you had read the article you would have seen that the Judge did NOT consider these bloggers journalists."

Yes, but no where in there could i find WHY he didn't consider them journalists.

Defining "Journalist" (2, Informative)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843620)

This was posted the last time we discussed this topic (which feels like just 20 minutes ago...):

(6) "Professional journalist" shall mean one who, for gain or livelihood, is engaged in gathering, preparing, collecting, writing, editing, filming, taping or photographing of news intended for a newspaper, magazine, news agency, press association or wire service or other professional medium or agency which has as one of its regular functions the processing and researching of news intended for dissemination to the public; such person shall be someone performing said function either as a regular employee or as one otherwise professionally affiliated for gain or livelihood with such medium of communication.

New York State Consolidated Laws, Article 7, Section 79-h (a) (6) [findlaw.com]

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (1)

LMCBoy (185365) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843720)

This is so sad.

Thomas Paine was not a "journalist" under the judge's definition. Nor were Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. They were the bloggers of their day.

So when their peers wrote Amendment I into the Constitution, do you really suppose they intended to extend the right to press only to "professional" journalists? It's pathetic, and wrong. It's Wrongthetic.

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843759)

You're missing the point. There isn't any protection for journalists in most states, and certainly not on a federal level. Now, perhaps there "should be", but in effect, there isn't. Some federal judges get stiffys when they throw a reporter in jail for "obstruction of justice".

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (1)

flumps (240328) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843501)

IANAL but I think thats only in some states.

Shield act or something.

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843503)

Actually, quite a number of journalists are in jail for believing the same thing.

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843505)

I thought there are cases involving print reporters of major newspapers where they're being pressured to reveal sources - and that there's no obvious law which prevents such at the Federal level. There might be state laws (think there are), but unless a Constitutional protection is found...

If print journalists can't protect their sources, what can a blogger do other than say "uhh, I forget" or "uhh, I made it up"?

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (2, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843512)

Yes, they may. But if the journalist is ordered to produce their source and they refuse then they can be jailed on contempt of court charges until the court is satisfied that their conviction is absolute or some reasonableness threshold is reached. Freedom comes at a cost!

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (1)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843519)

There's no law, just legal precedent based on an interpretation of the first amendment. Legal precedent can always be changed...

Shield Law/UTSA/Copyright/Trademark/Patent (4, Informative)

adzoox (615327) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843535)

I think you are referring to the shield law, but that applies to criminal and federal cases where the journalist can prove he may be at harm or be casued damaged if they reveal sources (even then - it doesn't apply to federal cases)

The law that does apply here is the UTSA - Uniform Trade Secrets Act - it specifically says you cannot report or disseminate information you know or can easily research and know is trade secret.

Really, copyright law applies here too - Think Secret was posting copyrighted/Patented information (that was not yet available at USPTO.GOV)

Re:Shield Law/UTSA/Copyright/Trademark/Patent (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843661)

You can't protect information about your business plans with copyright, and patent law does not prohibit someone from discussing your patent. There's no such thing as a secret patent. You can't use the methods covered by the patent legally, but you can sure as hell publish them as much as you want.

You have no idea what you're talking about. Copyright and patent law are completely irrelevant.

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843543)

The constitution promises a free press, it does not give a totally free pass to report on a crime and not reveal who did it. There is some leiway and many states do give journalists an almost totally free pass, but the federal courts do not.

Basically, journalists are citizens first and journalists second. If they know of a crime, why should they be given a free pass in regards to withholding information in connection with the commission of a crime? The simple answer is that they should not unless what was revealed was "for the public good" or something like that. Revealing secrets of upcoming Apple products will never qualify in this regard I hope.

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (4, Interesting)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843562)

There is. However, there is a caveat that precludes them from publishing things that are trade secrets are should reasonably know are trade secrets. Such disclosure can require them to reveal sources. This is not a Deep Throat type scenario. The guy should have known not to publish what he did.

Having said that, I want to clear something up. Did he simply report on the specs of soon to be released hardware? Was it that simple? If so, I am not sure the ought-to-have-known-these-are-trade-secrets argument holds water. If the machines were about to be released, their specs would shortly become public domain.

Can anyone clarify?

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843582)

I never realized Slashdot had so many lawyers.

Why do people say "IANAL" then proceed to give their (usually incorrect) legal opinion anyway?

Re:Now correct me if im wrong... (2, Interesting)

Qwest94 (512718) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843609)

There are some US state laws that provide this sort of privilege, but no federal law. There is a big dispute in the US over this right now having to do with some journalists who outed a CIA agent. The government is trying to make the journalists name the sources, and so far it looks like the government is winning.

http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/arti cle_6251.shtml [capitolhillblue.com]

Well I for one..... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843463)

...welcome our new fucking-their-fans-up-the-ass Apple overlords.

Sorry to be picky... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843469)

...but it is Gizmodo not Gizmondo.

Apple is for fags (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843472)

Faggots

You break an NDA... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843473)

Not surprised

This is not about journalism or blogging (5, Insightful)

jarich (733129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843476)

It's about a company protecting their secrets from being rebroadcast on a world-wide medium.

It's not about journalism or blogging.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843514)


The same people complaining about the injustice of the rulling are probably the same ones arguing about "fair right usage" to support bootlegging of video / audio.

Linux, sign of the slacker

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (2, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843516)

Exactly. It's like claiming the laws against murder are a blow to the freedom to use a knife.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (0, Troll)

LMCBoy (185365) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843653)

Exactly. It's like claiming the laws against murder are a blow to the freedom to use a knife.

So, you are implying there's a law against publishing insider information sent to you for that purpose? Silly me, I thought we enjoyed freedom of the press in this country! Send some federal agents over to Bob Woodward's house and have him arrested!

Apple's (legitimate) complaint is that they have employees leaking secret information. They have no right to use the courts to strong-arm the press into identifying the culprits.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843523)

It is up to the company to stop its secrets from escaping however!

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

ZonaldRumzfeld (826828) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843533)

They should have done a better job at protecting their secrets in the first place.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (2, Insightful)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843685)

And if someone burns down your house, you should have done a better job of fireproofing it. Obviously the arsonist shouldn't be held responsible.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (4, Insightful)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843540)

Wrong, it's about both. It doesn't have to be one or the other. It's obvious you think that protecting secrets is of more import than speech, but don't be so dishonest as to say "it has nothing to do with journalism or blogging".

I'm not saying you're wrong that protecting secrets is more important than free speech (and I'm also not saying you're right). I'm just saying "be honest about the situation or don't open your mouth". It's completely irresponsible of you to do otherwise.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (5, Insightful)

johansalk (818687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843600)

You're both wrong. It's not about secrets, blogging, journalism, or free speech. It's about breaking conctractual agreements, and "contracts are promises that the law will enforce".

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (2, Insightful)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843610)

Wrong again; these news sites/bloggers did NOT agree to any of these NDAs; as such, it STILL has to do with journalism and blogging, at the minimum, and protecting your secrets (which is the purpose of the NDA in the first place).

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (3, Insightful)

johansalk (818687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843672)

That's nonsense. The law does not care about "protecting your (corporate) secrets". This is only relevant because the NDA is a contract, and, like I already said, "Contracts are promises that the law will enforce"! (google for this sentence and see how often it occurs)
The law in this case does not care about "journalism and blogging"; but simply that they are obstructing the enforcement of the law.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843736)

" Wrong again; these news sites/bloggers did NOT agree to any of these NDAs"

You are right -- they didn't agree to these NDAs.

But at the same time, encouraging folks to break the law is a grey area of legality. At least one of these companies has a toll free number that they claim is anonymous that anyone can call and leave anonymous tips to avoid being caught. This signifies that they are knowingly encouraging someone to break their contract. Beyond that, they are participating in this -- which pushes them further on the site of the grey area towards breaking the law.

So regardless of them agreeing to the NDA, they are breaking the law.

As a side note, did you realize that in some states, folks have been prosecuted for knowingly having affairs as this is considered to be knowlingly interfering with a legal contract? Not the husband or the wife, but the third party. I fully agree with this (there is very little to the sanctity to marriage these days -- who cares about homos getting married with hetros fuck up the institution far worse). This is the same sort of thing. You know someone is bound by law not to do something, and you encourage them to break these bounds.

Free speech has limits.

Sadly, I don't think any mainstream newspaper would do anything like this. Some would say thats why mainstream press will die in the near future. I'd fully agree with something like this *IF* it were breaking the law about something potentially dangerous to others, illegal, harmful to my gov't, harmful because of my gov't or otherwise -- but to find out when a company that makes fashion computers for the elite is bringing out a new product??? Geez...this isn't journalism. Anyone that isn't a pimply faced kid in an elite school put there by rich mommies and daddies knows this.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

faitzy (857887) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843635)

How is this not about journalism and blogging? Apple wants to know who passed on trade secrets to a website; said site isn't going to give said secrets as they say they're journalists. The judge has ruled that they aren't journalists and have to give up the info.

What I would like to know if this judge considers others in his proffession aren't actually judges just cause they work in traffic court?

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

ect5150 (700619) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843710)


While others may make the case about other issues, I'll agree with jarich, the poster above. To bolster my/our argument, I'll quote a very famous economist

There is one and only one responsibility of business - to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game.
Milton Friedman

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

l33t-gu3lph1t3 (567059) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843542)

And they have a legal right to hunt down someone who knows their secrets?

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

jotok (728554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843563)

Surely it is. Think Secret owes absolutely no legal or other obligation to Apple; therefore if anything this is about flexing corporate muscle. Happens all the time, right? Fine. But the tactic they are attempting could set a dangerous precedent: that you can violate journalistic integrity in order to safeguard someone's cash flow. This is something I think we would all rather not see.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

SolemnDwarf (863575) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843676)

"But the tactic they are attempting could set a dangerous precedent: that you can violate journalistic integrity in order to safeguard someone's cash flow."
This statement attempts to set a dangerous precedent that journalists actually have integrity.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

afay (301708) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843604)

No, this is 100% about journalism and blogging. If a New York Times reporter had received the same information as the bloggers and reported it, he would not have to reveal his source. Journalists are protected in that regard.

Since the judge is ruling that these websites have to reveal their sources, it essentially means that in the eyes of the court blogging is not a form of journalism. I find that a pretty scary ruling. I don't blog or anything, but I certainly think that there are bloggers out there doing more for the journalism profession than many "legitimate" news outlets (think Fox news).

I wish I could mod you -1 Wrong.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (2, Informative)

murphj (321112) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843692)

No, this is 100% about journalism and blogging. If a New York Times reporter had received the same information as the bloggers and reported it, he would not have to reveal his source. Journalists are protected in that regard.

Tell that to Judith Miller, the Times reporter who has been ordered by the courts to reveal her source. http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0303/p09s01-coop.htm l/ [csmonitor.com]

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843705)

If they felt that the NYT reporter KNEW the person was violating an NDA by giving them the information, then yes, the NYT could be sued.

There is no absolute protection of confidentiality just because it's related to journalism of some kind, sorry.

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (2, Informative)

babble123 (863258) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843730)

You mean, a New York Times reporter like Judith Miller [uscourts.gov] whose looking at jail time [ifex.org] if she doesn't reveal the name of a source?

Re:This is not about journalism or blogging (1)

beerits (87148) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843758)

If a New York Times reporter had received the same information as the bloggers and reported it, he would not have to reveal his source. Journalists are protected in that regard.

Think again. [nytimes.com] .

Bad news for Apple (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843498)

Talk about your potential PR disaster. Sue your most rabid fans, always a good plan.

Re:Bad news for Apple (1)

mmeister (862972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843546)

Did Apple somehow pick up the SCO operations manual?

Re:Bad news for Apple (2, Funny)

TheViffer (128272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843627)

Don't think so. Apple has actually won a case.

Re:Bad news for Apple (4, Insightful)

adzoox (615327) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843564)

Think Secret is NOT an Apple fan - in fact they often report negatively - partner with the resellers that are suing Apple - and do so at the expense of Apple buyers (stealing press thunder, building up expectations too high, and litigation/cease and decist concerns)

Gizmodo, not Gizmondo.... (1)

EnglishTim (9662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843502)

Gizmondo is the new handheld console from Tiger Telematics, fool!

*mutters about the so-called 'editors' and their complete unwillingless to ever do any editing*

ok guys you know the routine (3, Funny)

ralinx (305484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843504)

Apple Good, Microsoft Bad,
OS X Good, Windows Bad,
PowerPC Good, Intel Bad

everybody clear on this?

Re:ok guys you know the routine (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843657)

No. Please explain it to us. Seriously. What are you saying? I really don't understand. What routine? What happened to your verbs and punctuation? If you are mentally challenged, I apologize in advance. If you are a reborn caveman, you should alert the media.

"tentatively" ? (2, Informative)

traffi (800888) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843509)

A crucial part of the wording here is that the judge "tentatively ruled" in favour of Apple. The article also says that it is a preliminary ruling and that the case is still being argued.

Precedent (3, Insightful)

kunwon1 (795332) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843510)

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg refused to extend to the Web sites a protection that shields journalists from revealing the names of unidentified sources or turning over unpublished material.

and...

Thomas Goldstein, a former dean of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism who worked as a reporter for the New York Times, filed a brief in support of the Web sites. "Just because Apple does not want these publications to report on its activities does not mean that they are not news publications," Goldstein wrote.

This is setting a very dangerous precedent. If this holds up (through many appeals, unless I miss my guess), then what's to differentiate between CNN and CNN.com? Just because it's on the web means it's not journalism?

Re:Precedent (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843605)

Since when is anything CNN prints or airs journalism? Have you actually read the crap they publish?

Re:Precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843612)

This is a critical failure on the part of the judge to realise that the internet is an enabling device that has allowed anyone to become a journalist and editor of whatever they like. Part of that freedom does require that a person is careful about what they write as normal journalists are, but you should get protection as well. OTOH 'real' journalists usually take a course in journalism, although I cannot comment on the merits of such a course, having not taken one!

ThinkSecret is a journal read by how many people? tens of thousands? I think that is enough evidence to show that it is not a mere 'blog' but an actual online publication.

I just hope that in the end all that ThinkSecret can give up is an anonymous form submission with an identifying codeword. That'll let Apple catch "Mr X" easily, lol.

Re:Precedent (2, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843670)

It's simple.

If you're the representative of a large news organization that can

a) Buy Laws
b) Buy Politicans
c) Destroy Politicians

Then you're a journalist and entitled to their protections. If you're not a representative of an organization like this, you're not.

It's a good thing... (1)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843518)

... Bush and the Democrats set up those free speech zones last year. Now I suggest they set up some free press zones.

Re:It's a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843713)

Except that the purpose of those "free speech zones" was to prevent freedom of speech everywhere else. So presumably the existence of a "free press zone" would imply that elsewhere in America the press is no longer to be considered free.

Good, otherwise all NDAs are pointless (5, Insightful)

varmittang (849469) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843528)

If they didn't win, then all NDAs are pointless because you could just put an anonymous post on some website and not get in trouble for it.

Re:Good, otherwise all NDAs are pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843567)

Wrong. As from that argument nda's have always been useless as you could put an anonymous post in a newspaper or magazine.

Re:Good, otherwise all NDAs are pointless (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843590)

They're pointless anyway. No contract is any better than the people that sign it.

Re:Good, otherwise all NDAs are pointless (5, Interesting)

XP_sucks (649991) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843624)

The NDA is a "confidentially " contract with whomever the company is disclosing the info to. It is not with the blog or website that that person leaks the info too. The leaker has violated the NDA, if there was one (or possibly his terms of employment) and is liable for doing so. This is completely seperate from the freedom of the press issues raised here, and more importantly the issue of online publications being somehow different that traditional media and thus not deserving of the same rights and protections. Apple is completely within its rights to go after the leakers, but should not be allowed to treat the blogs any different that say the New York Times.

Re:Good, otherwise all NDAs are pointless (0)

denis-The-menace (471988) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843640)

Following that line of reasoning, anybody can be subject to the NDA if they tell somebody a "corporate secret". They wouldn't even have to have seen the NDA, much less sign it.

So now when you hear a rumour that *could* be true, don't repeat it because you could be sued.

Congratulation, you've just lost free speech.
America, land of the Free! Ha!
Free Corporations, not free people.

Re:Good, otherwise all NDAs are pointless (2, Insightful)

mmeister (862972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843646)

The real danger is that if Apple prevails (and while I am a fan of Apple's, I don't think this is a good move on their part), then anonymous sources will dry up -- not just for Apple "leaks", but for more important things, like government corruption and abuse.

Bloggers and other non-traditional online press sites are becoming the new watchdogs since, sadly, all the networks, newspapers, and news stations are either afraid of the government or worse (FoxNews), in collaboration with certain controlling parties of the government. That means incompetence and abuse is more easily hidden from the public eye.

NDAs are a civil contract between the "leaker" and the company. Think Secret and company are acting as the press and should be protected with our shield laws, period.

Apple needs to use another method to find its leakers.

NDAs prevent... (1)

briaman (564586) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843711)

NDAs prevent you from exploiting the information covered by the NDA - not from revealing it by, say, leaving a copy or 2 of the covered material on a bus, or posting it anonymously to some website or other. Where NDAs are concerned - the implementation does not meet the specification.

Names of the sources... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843552)

l33tdud3 ( l33t__@hotmail.com )
in5id3r ( xdklt_312@gmail.com )
4pp1e_4ever ( jobs_is_best@yahoo.com )

Come on, does Apple think that people are using their real names when leaking confidental information to some online journal?

Dangerous precedent (5, Insightful)

coder.keitaro (861991) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843559)

such protections apply only to "legitimate members of the press."

So now we have the courts deciding who is and who is not a journalist? We have them deciding what is legitimate journalism and what is not?

This is the beginning of an "authorized" press with greater freedoms than for anyone who dares to publish outside of it.

It scares me a lot as it could easily be abused to restrict free speach online.

Re:Dangerous precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843702)

The courts have always decided who is and who is not a journalist.

Re:Dangerous precedent (5, Funny)

rokzy (687636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843748)

>It scares me a lot as it could easily be abused to restrict free speach online.

you can have it back when you learn to spell it*.

*and the answer isn't "I-T"

Suing your customers (0, Offtopic)

thedogcow (694111) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843575)

Suing might be a good idea... Look at RIAA/MPAA. Look at all the filesharing of media it has stopped.
Oh wait, What is the torrent website? Hmm, doesn't look like it has hit IRC yet.

Okay, I take that back. Suing your customers is a bad idea. STUPID. STUPID!

Not journalism anyway (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843578)

It's not about journalistic integrity or freedom, it's about corporate espionage and the seedy underbelly of corporate WAR!

Employees usually sign all kinds of non-disclosure agreements when working in R&D, so for these leaks to be present, someone must be blabbing.

I imagine ThinkSecret is in less trouble for discussing the secret than obtaining it, and that's what Apple is after.

Daze

If Microsoft is a Virus, Apple is a Tumor (4, Funny)

Lemurmania (846869) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843581)

This sort of behavior has a lot to do with why I never moaned about Microsoft taking over the desktop. As a longtime Mac user, I've seen Apple's weird paternalistic culture close-up for a couple of decades.

Microsoft wants to infiltrate every device bigger than a toothbrush, agreed. But how much worse would it be if Apple took over? (I realize this is verging way out into hypothetical land.) In Bizzarro Apple Land, only rich, Blaupunkt-owning, BMW-driving hipsters would be allowed to compute. Your Mac could be taken away by armed fashionistas roaming the streets. Every PC would cost at least $5,000 and developers would be expected to grovel for the supreme privilege of creating apps for the One True Operating System. Businesses in non-sexy segments would be denied licenses, and instead use elaborate abaci manned by legions of idiot savants.

At least, that's what Mistress Cleo says.

Re:If Microsoft is a Virus, Apple is a Tumor (1)

Moby Cock (771358) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843652)

And security would be a snap!

Instead of a password, the machine would just ask you some arcane, esoteric hipster trivia.


"To login, please enter the title of Kraftwerk's second album."
Tighter than a chastity belt. :P

Re:If Microsoft is a Virus, Apple is a Tumor (4, Funny)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843717)

But how much worse would it be if Apple took over?

No, it would be better.

If only because the sight of Steve Jobs skipping up and down a stage with sweaty armpits screaming "Developers" over and over again would probably not be now giving me such bad nightmares...

Uhh... (5, Funny)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843583)

Ok, I'll talk. I got a call from a guy who said his name was Steve Jobs, and he told me all this stuff. He sent me an email (see, the "From:" line says "SteveJobs@apple.com"!) with the pictures and stuff. I figured he should know, right? What? The headers say the email comes from an anonymizer in the Netherlands? Sorry, I don't know what that means.

Is it possible they don't know their source? (5, Interesting)

Hussman32 (751772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843593)

The article didn't state it explicitly, but I was wondering if maybe they overheard the information.

I remember when I worked at Intel in Portland, there was a bar and grill called the Cornelius Pass Roadhouse that everyone visited after work('Today's been a killer, I need CPR'). Journalists from Wired would hang out in adjacent tables and take notes as the chip designers gave away the entire roadmap without knowing a single name.

Corporate Privacy (1)

Nero216 (552926) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843632)

Apple is entitled to a level of privacy with their unreleased products (among other things). A lot of people seem to totally ignore this though for sake of personal entertainment.

ashamed (0, Troll)

BibelBiber (557179) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843633)

I feel a bit ashamed of my Hardware and Software manufacturer of choice. Bad move, Apple.

Re:ashamed (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843738)

If someone posted your trade secrets on the internet, wouldn't YOU be pissed?

I know I would.

There isn't a right way to handle this, but they had to do SOMETHING.

Re:ashamed (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843763)

why? other than the ignorant bleats of a moron. why do you feel that this was a bad move? are you contenting that Apple has no right to protect itself? Freedom of the press only travels so far.

when to be protecting sources (2, Insightful)

ramsesit (754749) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843639)


I can appreciate that a journalist should have the right to protect their sources identity... for criminal cases (eg. robbery's, murders, etc) - these people are at risk of retribution (amonst other risks) should their real details become know.

In this case (for example), Apple has invested significant time, money and effort in developing a product(s) that is a key part of their business development.

In a market where being the first out with a new product can have sometimes significant impact on sales/income, leaks such as these can damage the company financially. I don't believe that these "sources" had any right in revealing the privileged information they held.

I can appreciate that there are times that the situation can be ambigious of a fashion - it is here that the courts/judges come into play, to decide if the situation warrants a jouranlist revealing their source. In this situation, I think that they have done the right thing - there is no need to protect the source's identity(s).

I know that this will most likely have reprocussions for the source - ie. loss of job, being sued, etc. However, in making the decision to reveal confidential information, this is a risk that they have chosen to make. Although I do feel sorry for them, and the consequences they have to face

I love my gadgets (and oh how I do!). However finding what's coming up is interesting, but there's something nice about reading all the speculatory (new word?) posts leading up to a new product announcement :-)

The judege was correct.. (1)

bob670 (645306) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843644)

in determining that bloggers are not "journalist" and are not afforded the same protection. I'm glad blogging is more respected and considered an aspect of the media now, but it is not journalism, it is criticism. I would also contend that Apple is protecting trade secrets and facts that have impact on it's market value and ability to sell product. If a typcial "journalist" were to violtate an NDA they would be punishable by law, why should a blogger be excluded?

What makes someone a journalist? (3, Insightful)

fprefect (14608) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843655)

What makes someone a journalist? Is it circulation in the millions? Is it a press pass? Is it a crumpled fedora? These days any hack with a blog can wrap something in HTML, slap a google ad on it, and call it journalism. Does that make it so?

Does everything written to a wiki or a blog get full first amendment protection - not just your own free speech, but the ability to quote or reference facts from anonymous sources with impunity? That would be a great loophole, the Internet equivalent of "touching base" -- you caaan't get me.

As for these sites, IMO they were established news organizations, and likely deserve such protection given their reputation and audience. However, I consider it a matter of fact to be decided by the courts whether a given individual is afforded these protections, as they should never be automatic.

Freedom of Speech is political (1)

catdevnull (531283) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843660)

Business and its reporting are a completely different animals than what the first amendment and its interpretations are meant define. It should be no surprise that the judge ruled in favor of Apple. It should not be the right of individuals to publish private information just because an unethical person released it--and the employee who violated that confidentiality should be held accountable.

But, if the sites reported the leak from other sources, Apple shouldn't have a leg to stand on. C'est la guerre.

a solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843667)

those publishers might say that they could be sued back for telling who leaked the informations since they can't proove the origin. Then, if they are forced anyway, tell the judge it's steeve :)

Defintion of Journalist? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843691)

So what is going to be the legal definition of 'Journalist' ?

Personally anyone that is 'reporting' either facts or opinions to the public should be considered a journalist.

Will this become yet another 'club' that takes either lots of cash, or special friends to join?

Re:Defintion of Journalist? (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843737)

even a print journalist or TV journalist would be liable . it has nothing to do with freedom of the press.

It's not Apple -- it's California (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11843707)

Has anyone read the complaint? Doesn't it rely on a California law that specifically permits companies to sue anyone who solicits trade secrets from employees? Why get angry at Apple if they are only following their state's laws as they were intended to be followed?

If you want to avoid being sued, act reasonably to avoid harming others. You don't have to know every state's laws as long as you wonder whether it's unreasonable to interfere with the employment contracts of others by requesting that they break their confidentiality agreements -- which it is. Nick knew he was risking a suit when he solicited info from Apple employees.

Further reports... (5, Funny)

gt_swagger (799065) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843731)

The news came as a letdown for those running ThinkSecret, but their spirits were picked up when Apple served their final notice on nice metallic gray paper, in a design that could only be called "compact, simple, elegant, and effective."

Great . . . (3, Interesting)

theparanoidcynic (705438) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843757)

So in the US you can force journalists to cough up the names of people who leaked Apple product specs, but you can't force them to cough up the name of the Bush admin shill who outed a CIA agent. Fucking fantastic.

A few things: (4, Informative)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 9 years ago | (#11843761)

- There is no blanket shield law for journalists in the US. Nothing along the lines of doctor-patient or lawyer-client privelege. There are some laws for more specific cases, but nothing generic.
- This is not about "freedom of the press". You are free to publish (ie: the government can't sell publishing licenses), but you are still responsible for your actions, just as with speech.
- There is a federal trade secrets act that says publishers can be found liable if they knew, or should have known, that information was a trade-secret being leaked.
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