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Apple Ordered to Pay Blogger Legal Fees

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the bruising-the-bottom-line dept.

The Courts 161

inetsee writes "Apple has been ordered to pay legal fees for two web sites that reported on an in-development Apple project code named 'Asteroid'. According to the article on WebProNews, Apple was ordered by a Santa Clara County court to pay almost $700,000 in legal reimbursement to AppleInsider and PowerPage after the court agreed with the Electronic Frontier Foundation legal team that the web sites 'qualified as legitimate online news sites' engaging in trade journalism. Apple had claimed that it had a right to protect its trade secrets, but the EFF successfully argued that 'Subpoenaing journalist sources is not an acceptable means of discovery.'"

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More of This, please (4, Interesting)

Mateo_LeFou (859634) | more than 7 years ago | (#17830932)

I lament the fact that acquiring justice, or clearing your name from a SLAPP, requires so much money. I think that there should be punitive damages in addition to legal fees when companies go after individuals in this way.

Re:More of This, please (4, Interesting)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831408)

I lament the fact that acquiring justice, or clearing your name from a SLAPP, requires so much money.
As usual, the lawyers win. Class Actions are what always scald my ass. The consumers get a free CD and the lawyers collect $2.5M in legal fees.

Re:More of This, please (3, Interesting)

damsa (840364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833602)

The lawyers in this case are the EFF which I believe is a non profit.

The fees... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17830946)

700k...

Isn't that what an iPhone is going for these days?

Re:The fees... (5, Funny)

sokoban (142301) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831216)

700k...

Isn't that what an iPhone is going for these days?
Seriously, $640k should be enough for anybody.

as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17830974)


the lawyers win the real cold cash, the rest is lipservice

Re:as usual (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831024)

Well that's one way to look at it, the other is Apple loses 700k. Maybe they'll think twice before trampling the rights of others next time.

Tom

Re:as usual (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831130)

That's less than 1/10 of 1% of last quarter's revenue. Why are they going to think twice?

Re:as usual (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831258)

Shareholders don't like lawsuits. If you repeat 700k enough times it starts to sting. What's worse, there could be other troubles for Apple if the government decides they're an unlawful business (e.g. rampantly violating the civil rights of others).

That and now they get to continue reporting on every little detail of Apple ... oh wait ... how is that bad anyways?

Tom

Re:as usual (1)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831780)

Shareholders don't like lawsuits.

Almost any large company will be engaged in multiple lawsuits at any given time. It comes with the territory.

If you repeat 700k enough times it starts to sting.

Apple just settled with Creative for $100 million and it wasn't big news.

Re:as usual (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831862)

Why do you hate america?

Geez.

Bahahahahahahahahaha

Re:as usual (1)

neuroklinik (452842) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832706)

What's worse, there could be other troubles for Apple if the government decides they're an unlawful business (e.g. rampantly violating the civil rights of others).
Huh... wha? Oh.... for a second there, I thought you were talking about Microsoft.

Re:as usual (1)

LHX (691802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831314)

Because
  • revenue != profit
  • $700K here, $700K there, and pretty soon you're talking real money.
  • Now there is a legal precedent so Apple can't use the same tactics in the future. When a court decides to award legal expenses to the opposition, it's essentially saying that you are totally in the wrong.

Re:as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17832720)

revenue != profit

Apple's last quarter revenues were $7 billion.
Apple's last quarter profit was $1 billion.

The poster meant profit, clearly.

Re:as usual (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834792)

Furthermore, if they were to repeat the same thing, or even similarly enough, the next time may likely be $1400k... or $2100k if the judge doesn't believe they learned their lesson.

Re:as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831244)

I doubt it. 700k is a small enough fee to send a chill into the blogging community. For every person that wins against Apple there will be scores that feel that it's too much of a risk and scale back. That's the purpose of a suit of this sort - intimidation.

Re:as usual (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833836)

Maybe they'll think twice before trampling the rights of others next time.

Or, to put it another way, this sets an important precedent.

One of the ongoing problems the legal system has is that, once a computer is involved, all precedent goes out the window, and all legal precedent is null and void and needs to be re-established. A lot of legal procedings can be explained once you understand this.

This case illustrates this rule by showing that a "blogger" isn't considered a "journalist", presumably because they use a computer and the Net to publish rather than a printing press. The judge's decision sets the important precedent that a journalist who publishes online is indeed a "journalist", and the involvement of computers and the Net doesn't negate that.

Of course, there's the qualification that this was done by a California court, so courts outside that jurisdiction will continue with the premise that the involvement of a computer invalidates all precedent. We can hope that Apple decides to appeal this to a Federal court, and that court decides similarly that a blogger can indeed be a journalist.

Worried about Apple... (5, Insightful)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17830980)

Does it seem like every day, Apple is seeming less like the good guy?

This isn't flamebait... (I love my Mac) its an observation that IMHO
over the past year Apple seems to have been far more agressive at implementing
"control" measures through legal means -- not as bad as MSFT, but a far cry f
rom the "We want everyone to love us" attitude of the past.

My question is: what changed? And is this the Apple of the future? Or
is this a result of some shift in management attitudes. (Or a case of
money and power corrupt, no matter who you are?)

Re:Worried about Apple... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831032)

My question is: what changed?

Steve Jobs became addicted to meth. Seriously.

(Cupertino worker, posting as AC)

Re:Worried about Apple... (5, Informative)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831040)

Actualy these types of things have been around for ages with Apple. They are VERY trigger happy when it comes to protecting their secrets. The only big difference is that as they gain more market/mind share (and as the internet grows), the chance of some one managing to reveal Apple's secrets, and so we see more instances of Apple doing 'evil' things.

They weren't like that... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833116)

Is this the same Apple that had cabinet covers closed with velcro strips? The biggest problem in getting into an Apple ][ was removing the TV set that sat on top.


The fact that there weren't any Apple ][ clones was due more to the big diversity in personal computer models at the time than any trade secret. If you wanted to build a computer in those days, it was easier to put together an S-100 machine than to try cloning an Apple. But every detail about the Apple, from the ROM listings to the video chroma waveforms, was widely known even published in magazines like the good old Byte, R.I.P.

Re:They weren't like that... (2, Informative)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834060)

The fact that there weren't any Apple ][ clones was due more to the big diversity in personal computer models at the time than any trade secret.

Please see the site exclusively devoted to Apple II clones [apple2clones.com] . Virtually all of these (a couple hundred or so) were put out of business by Apple suing them.

Don't get me wrong: I think in most of these cases, Apple had a perfect right to sue. Many of these didn't even make an attempt at being legal or legitimate at all, just using outright copies of the Apple II ROMs and selling them. AFAIK, the only company that did legal Apple II clones was VTech, who did the (in retrospect) obvious thing: they went to Microsoft and took out a license to AppleSoft, just like Apple had in the first place. Other than that, most were just taking an Apple II, copying its ROM and putting it into a machine similar to a real Apple II. Apple successfully took nearly all of these (e.g. the Pineapple, most of the Franklins) off the market via lawsuits.

Apple also sued nearly everybody over supposedly copying their GUI -- in nearly every case, it was pretty obvious that the real source was Xerox, but Apple's motto seemed to be "it's our's; we stole it first." This forced changes (mostly minor) in GEM, and (IIRC) Tandy's GUI system (sorry, I don't remember its name).

Re:They weren't like that... (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834826)

and (IIRC) Tandy's GUI system (sorry, I don't remember its name).

Deskmate [wikipedia.org] . I've only used version 3.something, so I don't recall any UI changes (driven by Apple or anyone). On the other hand, knowing what I know of Apple's history of zealously protecting whatever it percieves as its IP, it seems plausible. I'm just too lazy to look up your claim.

Re:Worried about Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831062)

It isn't a change. This is the Apple of past times. And probably of future times too. Apple is litigious.

Re:Worried about Apple... (5, Insightful)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831138)

Does it seem like every day, Apple is seeming less like the good guy

Apple makes nice products, but the notion that they are "the good guy" is a fiction created by their marketing.

For example, in the 80's, they legally threatened many people over GUIs and they deliberately broke standards like SCSI. They have done more for establishing DRM than Microsoft. They keep ripping off ideas from other companies and open source, and they don't give a damn about stepping on other people's trademarks or open source project names.

Overall, Apple's record is decidedly mixed.

My question is: what changed?

Only your perception, really.

If anything, Apple has actually become significantly nicer over the last couple of decades, and their products have improved as well.

Re:Worried about Apple... (1)

mattkime (8466) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833566)

>>and they deliberately broke standards like SCSI

Can you back that one up? Its new to me.

Re:Worried about Apple... (2, Informative)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833918)

In the early days, Apple used to put special identifiers in their own SCSI disk drives that they'd query, and their disk formatting software would only work with their own drives. I think people pretty quickly found ways to work around it, but it's the thought that counts in this context.

Re:Worried about Apple... (2, Informative)

idontgno (624372) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834860)

And let us not forget that bastardized 25-pin "not nearly enough grounding" pseudo SCSI connector standard they championed. Meh.

Re:Worried about Apple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17834074)

I can confirm.

I remember the time when GNU software had a clause that explicitely prevented it to run on Macintosh.

Who said they were a Good Guy(TM) (4, Interesting)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831156)

Does it seem like every day, Apple is seeming less like the good guy?

Um, who ever said they ever were a good guy in this matter? They never licensed their technology to outside companies, it took people kicking and screaming for them to even allow third party hardware before the 1990's. Try finding a non-Apple printer for a Mac before 1990 - doesn't exist. Apple has always protected their financials (see: iPhone and Verizon deal) and their IP/Technology. It's not a bad thing, it's just how they've always done business. You could argue that the reason the PC gained such a market share over Apple is because IBM didn't engage in litigation as much and allowed the third party market to flourish. Ironically, it's that loose control over the PC that's allowed it to gain the nasty reputation for the Wild West that is has now and that Apple capitalizes on with its newer commercials.

Re:Who said they were a Good Guy(TM) (1)

Laur (673497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831462)

Ironically, it's that loose control over the PC that's allowed it to gain the nasty reputation for the Wild West that is has now and that Apple capitalizes on with its newer commercials.
Even more ironic, now Macs are PCs.

Re:Who said they were a Good Guy(TM) (1)

Afecks (899057) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831890)

It's not a bad thing

Frivolous lawsuits aren't a bad thing?

Re:Who said they were a Good Guy(TM) (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831956)

Ironically, it's that loose control over the PC that's allowed it to gain the nasty reputation for the Wild West that is has now and that Apple capitalizes on with its newer commercials.

I think this is the first time I've seen "loose" be used correctly on slashdot! Congratulations!

Re:Who said they were a Good Guy(TM) (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17832138)

To pick nits, the linotronic used by the graphics bureau I used in the late 80s was not an apple printer. Any serial printer that supported postscript worked. I have a dim recollection of PCL printers working as well.

A fair assessment was that unless you had a specific printing need, or a large printer investment, the labor costs of straying from a single vendor solution exceeded the capital costs.

And single vendor solutions win with customers in non-technical businesses.

Re:Who said they were a Good Guy(TM) (1)

sealawyer2003 (688442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832180)

"You could argue that the reason the PC gained such a market share over Apple is because IBM didn't engage in litigation as much and allowed the third party market to flourish." True, but on the other hand, the result seems to be that IBM isn't able to make any money selling PCs.

Re:Who said they were a Good Guy(TM) (1)

Cutting_Crew (708624) | more than 7 years ago | (#17834072)

Maybe Apple can represent the next Good Guy Doll(TM).

"Hi my name is Chucky and i'm your friend to the end...Howdy HO! HA HA HA HA HA"

Re:Worried about Apple... (4, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831158)

They've never been "the good guy". They've gone through periods of being "the innovative guy" without doing too much evil for people to dislike them, but they're also the pioneers of the "look and feel" lawsuits that caused immense damage in the 1980s, and, especially concerning the Macintosh, have always had an absurdly controlling and proprietary attitude towards it. Even their attempts at open source have either been forced (Objective C was originally closed, and NeXT were forced to open it by the FSF, likewise WebKit et al are open because they're required to be by licensing), or with legal catches and a less than forthright approach (such as Darwin, and the evil APSL.)

They're the (mythical) Mussolini of the computer world, revered by many for making the trains run on time, but with a slap of dictatorial control most of us steer away from.

Apple's strength is its ability to package together interesting new products that inspire much of the industry. That's it. It's not a charity, indeed it makes IBM look warm and cuddly.

Re:Worried about Apple... (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831176)

The truth is that I don't think they ever were the "good guy." I think that's just an image they successfully cultivated. It's unfair that they've been held up this way all these years, while MS got kicked in the head as the "bad guy."

And before I get modded down or flamed, yes, MS has done a lot of bad stuff, no doubt. But, as a person, Bill Gates has done a LOT more "good guy" stuff than just about anyone else in his position ever has. How many billionaire CEO's have ever given as much to legitimate charities as Bill Gates? How many others have decided to give their entire $multi-billion fortune away when they die to a charitable foundation? Guys like Gates and Warren Buffet deserve at least a little "good guy" cred for that.

-Eric

Re:Worried about Apple... (-1, Flamebait)

aralin (107264) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832466)

I will give 90% of all the money I will steal from you to charity. Am I supposed to be praised as a "good guy" for doing that? Maybe you had some other uses for the money. It was yours money, why shouldn't you be praised for being a good guy, when the money going to charity were yours? I see Microsoft as a criminal and Bill Gates as profiting from criminal activity. I don't care how much he gives on charity out of his ill gotten money. It is not his money to dispose of in my eyes.

Depends how you see it (4, Interesting)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833194)

Bill Gates has done a LOT more "good guy" stuff than just about anyone else in his position ever has. How many billionaire CEO's have ever given as much to legitimate charities as Bill Gates? How many others have decided to give their entire $multi-billion fortune away when they die to a charitable foundation? Guys like Gates and Warren Buffet deserve at least a little "good guy" cred for that.

There are numerous ways to skin the related math. Comparing myself to Bill Gates, Gates wins hands down in terms of total amount donated, or percentage of holdings donated. On the other hand, I slaughter him with regard to scarcity of personal holdings remaining after all donations.

There's humor in my point above, but seriousness too. Bill Gates has not had to live without anything purchasable that he's wanted, whereas I've had to live without quite a lot of things that by varying degrees are "essential". Doesn't make me a better person than Gates, but conversely his pain-free, involved-as-he-wants-to-be actions don't make him a better person than me.

This line of thought applies when comparing Gates to other execs as well. How many of these execs have as much money as Gates to start with? How much did they have left when their donations were tallied up? How much in excess of some arbitrary standard of living/possessing did those amounts clock in at? All these questions are fundamentally aimed at discerning how much was really "given" in a way that cost the giver something, vs simply rearranged. If a corporate exec donates a billion dollars and keeps ten million for a lengthy retirement, how does that compare to a starving child who gives away a piece of bread and dies as a consequence? Who gets more "good guy" karma points?

Re:Worried about Apple... (1)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17835134)

This reveals a significant lack of knowledge of history. It seems to be more the rule than the exception for US tycoons to give away their money when they die, trying to purchase a good image for posterity. A simple example is The Rockefeller Foundation [rockfound.org] .

From my point of view, Gates has his fortune from various forms of market manipulation to force people and institutions to pay his company - in other words, a form of theft. He has been stealing from hospitals, from charity institutions, from schools, and has been destroying untold amounts of wealth by his (illegal) manipulations. Giving parts of his stolen money (and the bulk of it when he dies) to charity does not eradicate that.

For some reason, you're trying to put Warren Buffet in the same boat as Gates. However, as far as I know, Buffet has always been honest, he's just been a very, very good investor. He deserves good guy credit all through. I am not sure Gates deserve any at all; it is very hard for me to accept that until he at least apologize for previous behaviour.

Eivind.

Re:Worried about Apple... (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831990)

This isn't flamebait... (I love my Mac) its an observation that IMHO over the past year Apple seems to have been far more agressive at implementing "control" measures through legal means -- not as bad as MSFT, but a far cry from the "We want everyone to love us" attitude of the past.

*boggle* When I was a young'un, my friends and I, mostly Apple II fans, used to talk about Apple's "rabid attack lawyers". I have never known in my life any company more legally aggressive than Apple Computer, and this has been true for the entire 23 years I've been using Apple products. I'm not sure which past you're referring to. Back when Jobs and Woz were still in the garage? Those days were long gone by the time I got to know Apple in the early 80's.

Re:Worried about Apple... (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833004)

Does it seem like every day, Apple is seeming less like the good guy?

This isn't flamebait... (I love my Mac) its an observation that IMHO
over the past year Apple seems to have been far more agressive at implementing
"control" measures through legal means -- not as bad as MSFT, but a far cry f
rom the "We want everyone to love us" attitude of the past.

My question is: what changed? And is this the Apple of the future? Or
is this a result of some shift in management attitudes. (Or a case of
money and power corrupt, no matter who you are?)


Sorry to burst your bubble but Apple has never been the good guy, just the other guy. They are more innovative and do better work then their major competitor Microsoft but their business practices and control measures aren't new. Had they achieved the hegemony that Microsft has, I'd suspect Jobs and his boys would be breaking knee caps and killing kittens similiar to how Gates and the boys have. They were just as aggresive back in the 80's and Jobs is not a nice man. I suspect he's throw chairs too when faced with bad news. He's known for being an agressive business person and a dick. Nothing has changed, the nostalgia and jobs realty distortion field makes you think he must be the second coming.

Re:Worried about Apple... (2, Insightful)

Ryan Amos (16972) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833322)

What changed?

Apple became profitable and successful, and thus a target. Much of their marketing strategy relies on secrecy and misdirection; it makes sense if you're developing new products that are unique in design, you don't want your competitors ripping off your hard-worked design before your product has a chance to establish itself as a "brand-name." Nobody would have cared back in the pre-iMac days, but Apple is a trendsetter now, so competitors watch them closely.

Re:Worried about Apple... (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833678)

Apple is doing lots of crappy things (like forcing DRM on every iTunes download even when the rights holders don't require it), but in this case, I don't really get all the brouhaha. An employee of Apple leaked their trade secrets. Apple tried to figure out who it was and sued some rumor sites (btw, they aren't blogs). They lost, but I think they had a fair chance of winning, and it was their right to try it. What exactly is "evil" here?

Hallelujah! (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17830982)

I realize that this comment isn't going to win me any friends in Apple-land, but it's good for everyone (Except maybe Apple shareholders) if Apple's wrongdoings and attempts to intimidate news outlets into not carrying the news are exposed to a wider audience. A lot of people out there (including many slashbots) see Apple as the Brave Crusader out to kill the Microsoft dragon, but this view could not be farther from the truth. In reality, Apple is just another corporation, really not significantly better or worse than any other. They really are the lesser of two evils in the Mac vs. PC war.

A lot of people have cited Microsoft wrongdoing as part of their motivation to purchase a Macintosh. As this is basically an ignorant, knee-jerk reaction given Apple's own history, I theorize that these are the same people who don't believe a corporation has done anything wrong until it is proven in court. I hope that I am right, because this sort of thing has a chance to dent Apple's wallet, which is the only stimulus to which corporations really respond.

Re:Hallelujah! (1, Insightful)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831102)

Basically, this is a ruling that says you can brag about your crimes to a blogger, and they can publish your account, and they are free to cover up your crime.

Allowing "news" from anonymous sources to be published without independent on-the-record confirmation is bad enough. Being able to protect your source that broke the law isn't good for *anybody*. I know this strikes close to home because many people who read Slashdot could be considered bloggers, and nobody wants to be sued, but there is so much potential for abuse that comes out of this ruling that it isn't even funny. I can't imagine that this will result is anywhere near as much good as it will bad. Essentially this means that nobody is guilty of libel anymore as long as they write it as "an anonymous source said:".

If you want to protect whistleblowers, fine, but we don't need to protect people that illegally divulge trade secrets at the same time.

Re:Hallelujah! (1, Insightful)

retrosteve (77918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831208)

Nice argument, but hundreds of years late. This has always been true for journalists, now it's being extended to online journalists, whether employed or freelance.

Not such a big deal.

Parent comment "Wrong", not "Insightful" (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831782)

Actually, journalists have been subpoenaed for sources and some have gone to jail for refusing for hundreds of years. See my other posts in this thread for a reference.

You're just plain wrong.

Re:Parent comment "Wrong", not "Insightful" (3, Funny)

RxScram (948658) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832142)

...and some have gone to jail for ... hundreds of years.
Wow! Those are some OLD journalists... gives a whole new meaning to life in prison.

Re:Parent comment "Wrong", not "Insightful" (1)

retrosteve (77918) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832700)

...and how exactly will Apple's loss change this delicate balance again?

The general principle holds -- journalists don't need to reveal their sources, and can print what they can find out. There are occasional exceptions, but they have to be very important ones, related to national security. A particular company's proprietary info doesn't count.

Nothing has changed.

Re:Parent comment "Wrong", not "Insightful" (1)

LKM (227954) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833820)

I think it should be the other way around. Printing a company's trade secrets should not be protected. There's no public interest (and by the way, the fact that you are interested in what Apple is doing does not imply public interest). However, if there is a public interest - such as in matters related to national security - the press must be absolutely free to print whatever they dig up, without fear of prosecution.

Re:Hallelujah! (5, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831242)

Well, first off disclosure of trade secrets isn't a crime. It's a civil tort, specifically breach of a non-disclosure agreement. Of course the Web sites in question hadn't signed any NDA with Apple, so they couldn't have breached the (non-existent) agreement. Under the law the burden of keeping a trade secret secret rests on the company that owns it, not the general public.

And there's a couple of things. First is the fact that Apple couldn't show that the Web sites in question knew their source was breaching an NDA. Second is the rule that says you can only subpoena a journalist in the way Apple wanted to if all other avenues of investigation have been exhausted. As the judge observed, Apple could have questioned it's own employees about whether they'd disclosed the information and to whom, and done so under penalty of perjury to add weight to the questioning. This could've revealed the names Apple was looking for without requiring anything from the Web sites. Apple choose not to pursue internal questioning, and the judge ruled that their mere desire not to demoralize their employees wasn't enough to justify putting the burden on someone else.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831288)

First is the fact that Apple couldn't show that the Web sites in question knew their source was breaching an NDA.

I don't see a problem there, since they weren't trying to hold the blogger accountable for the breach, but merely to have the blogger reveal the name of the person who was responsible.

Second is the rule that says you can only subpoena a journalist in the way Apple wanted to if all other avenues of investigation have been exhausted. As the judge observed, Apple could have questioned it's own employees about whether they'd disclosed the information and to whom, and done so under penalty of perjury to add weight to the questioning.

This is a perfectly reasonable argument.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833446)

>>First is the fact that Apple couldn't show that the Web sites in question knew their source was breaching an NDA.
I don't see a problem there, since they weren't trying to hold the blogger accountable for the breach, but merely to have the blogger reveal the name of the person who was responsible.


The problem is that the blogger(s) in question are acting as journalists, in fact this case upholds that as part of its findings according to the /. summary. Now, it may not mean much to you or Joe Blogger if Apple asked who was telling you secrets, but to a journalist that leaker is known as a SOURCE, and squealing on them is not only counter to the agreement the journalist had in place for their source to remain anonymous, but it also ruins their chances for getting info at a future point from that or any other source.

If the NY Times started printing the names of every "administration official" that dropped them inside facts for their stories even they would have a hard time getting new sources.

Also, it *can* be a crime. (3, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831502)

There are five ways that stealing/revealing a trade secret can be considered a federal crime under US Code Title 18 Part 1 [cornell.edu] , instead of merely a civil matter.

Trade Secret law is not based on NDAs. It is a distinct section of US intellectual property law.

Re:Also, it *can* be a crime. (2, Interesting)

phoenixwade (997892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832582)

I'm not sure that this situation is covered as a theft of trade secrets. No one was trying to convert a trade secret. This was a news item that covered a trade secret Apple wanted to be kept secret. I would think the only violation would be the NDA, and a civil, not a criminal, matter. However, IANAL, etc,etc,ad nausium.

Re:Also, it *can* be a crime. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17832756)

None of that said anything about revealing a trade secret being a crime. It said that if you possess, receive, or buy information known to be an unauthorized disclosure you can be implicated with the theft of a trade secret. Of course, this would mean that if some source tells me, "Microsoft is planning to put cows on Jupiter" and then I tell you, then you've just received what is known to be an unauthorized disclosure, the same as I did when the source told me.

So, better hope there's a spoiler tag next time or you too can become guilty of violating USC Title 18 Part 1a and be fined up to $5 million and/or spend up to ten years in prison. Woohoo, go lawmakers!

Re:Hallelujah! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17832444)

Well, first off disclosure of trade secrets isn't a crime. It's a civil tort, specifically breach of a non-disclosure agreement. Of course the Web sites in question hadn't signed any NDA with Apple, so they couldn't have breached the (non-existent) agreement. Under the law the burden of keeping a trade secret secret rests on the company that owns it, not the general public.

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act [nsi.org] , adopted by almost every state, including all of those relevant to this case, says otherwise.

Re:Hallelujah! (4, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831310)

Being able to protect your source that broke the law isn't good for *anybody*

Horseshit! Just about every major scandal that ever broke in political or business history has been the result of some leaker willing to break the law and/or risk his life. Think it was legal for Mark Felt to leak information from classified meetings and secret FBI files to Bob Woodward? And how many business scandals have been exposed by an honest insider willing to break his NDA or steal documents (like Brown & Williamson)? How many WOULD have been if someone had been willing to break the law sooner (Enron)?

-Eric

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831324)

With laws that protect whistleblowers, none of the case you describe would involve a source breaking the law.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831394)

Well, it seems the Justice Department would disagree with you [aclu.org] .

-Eric

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831718)

Not really. It's just that we don't actually have good federal whistleblower laws.

We should.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831366)

Incidentally, Woodward *did* get independent corroboration, and didn't publish based on a single anonymous source. If Mark Felt was trying to libel for political gain back then, he wouldn't have gotten away with it. I'm not sure the same is true today.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831344)

Citing anonymous sources and keeping them confidental has been a pillar of the free press for a long time. I think it wasn't until recently that the govt started forcing journalists to disclose their sources in the interest of "national security".

You're wrong. (2, Informative)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831576)

That just plain isn't true [slate.com] , and I don't know what made people start thinking that all of a sudden.

Re:You're wrong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17832742)

I guess somebody doesn't know anything about the founding of this country and the role that anonymous publication and sourcing had it it.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

Budenny (888916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831908)

Wrong. Basically this is a ruling that says the US has a constitution, protects the press broadly defined, and if you are Apple, yes, even if you are Apple, tough. The US still has a constitution. If you like it, or if you don't.

What are you talking about? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831984)

There was no constitutional issue raised here. If forcing the blogger to talk was the only possible way to find out who leaked the trade secret, the judge probably would have sided with Apple. This wasn't a constitutional decision, it was a procedural decision.

Of course you're probably one of the people who holds the misconception that journalists have ever had the right to protect a source who broke the law. They never have.

Re:Hallelujah! (2, Informative)

dr.badass (25287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832094)

Basically, this is a ruling that says you can brag about your crimes to a blogger, and they can publish your account, and they are free to cover up your crime.

Um, no. That's not what was decided. In fact, that aspect of the case was pretty much thrown out a long while ago. What was decided was actually in the article summary: 'Subpoenaing journalist sources is not an acceptable means of discovery.'

It's a civil suit, no? (typo fixed) (1)

argent (18001) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832794)

First, let's fix a typo:

Basically, this is a ruling that says you can brag about your crimes to a reporter, and they can publish your account, and they are free to cover up your crime.

Second: yes, for a civil suit, that's true.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17833956)

Being able to protect your source that broke the law isn't good for *anybody*.

I realize that you are probably trying to apply this to breaches of this particular law which is apparently a fairly rational piece of legislation. However, there are plenty of other laws you could break that aren't harming anyone. For example, you publish an article by someone who uses a variety of so-called "recreational"-yet-traditional (like marijuana, peyote, salvia, etc) drugs and reports on their health effects by way of an expose on the suppression of this information in the USA. That person has broken the law, but this is clearly a case of journalism and it would be irresponsible of you to reveal their identity.

Revealing classified information that proves something like a government cover-up would be another breach of law that the citizenry has a right to receive the benefits of. Revealing the source's identity would have a chilling effect on whistle blowing.

Essentially this means that nobody is guilty of libel anymore as long as they write it as "an anonymous source said:".

What about providing evidence that you are in posession of information which you did not fabricate? It is probably possible (given sufficient intelligence and planning) to provide such evidence without providing the identity of the source.

If you want to protect whistleblowers, fine, but we don't need to protect people that illegally divulge trade secrets at the same time.

I agree, and I would support any legislation which prevented one and not the other. However, I feel that my freedom is more important than Apple's (or anyone else's, including my own) ability to protect their trade secrets. If you can figure out a way to stop one without stopping the other, I'm interested in hearing about it.

Re:Hallelujah! (0, Redundant)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831222)

A lot of people have cited Microsoft wrongdoing as part of their motivation to purchase a Macintosh. As this is basically an ignorant, knee-jerk reaction given Apple's own history,

The difference between Microsoft and Apple is that Apple doesn't even come close to having a monopoly. If Apple gets, say, a 25% marketshare, that's good for all of us, no matter how evil Apple may be. And no matter what Apple does or doesn't do for open source, the fact that they use many UNIX APIs means that when Apple sells a Mac, that helps Linux more than when Microsoft sells a Vista machine.

Re:Hallelujah! (1)

Der Reiseweltmeister (1048212) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831750)

I agree with the parent insofar as it is clear that many people seem to have a typical fanboy attitude with Apple. They confuse "making a better product" with "being a better company". I would gladly argue that for many people's needs Apple makes a better product. That is why I own a mac. But saying that you own a mac because Apple is a better company is walking on thin ice.

If making a point about the quality of one's character is paramount to you, why would you not use GNU products? I've yet to see a GNU developer sue someone for infringing on trade secrets! (I'm not saying they're not fine pieces of software for some purposes as well.)

whoo eff (3, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17830992)

this is why I support them. /me proudly wears my eff hat....

How do you run up $700K in legal fees? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17830994)

I was once attacked by a big company... We settled quickly, and my legal expenses were about $6K. I suppose, it could've become 10 times that, if it lasted longer, but $700K?..

Re:How do you run up $700K in legal fees? (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831160)

If there were actual facts Apple could have cited which gave them reason to make a valid legal claim, like public libelous statements, or statements made to affect Apple's share price or something similar, the litigation costs would be many millions minimum.

The way it is set up these days, even a small court case can wind up generating $25k-50k per month in billings to your firm, before you ever get anywhere near court, and then the fees go dramatically up during trial.

Re:How do you run up $700K in legal fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831268)

I'll tell you exactly what those fees can "go" dramatically "up."

Re:How do you run up $700K in legal fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17832218)

CoyboyNeal?

Re:How do you run up $700K in legal fees? (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831380)

The way it is set up these days, even a small court case can wind up generating $25k-50k per month in billings to your firm

Ok... So, how long did this last?

before you ever get anywhere near court, and then the fees go dramatically up during trial.

How dramatically? Like 10K per day? Maybe... But by these numbers, this case should've been like 10-20 months in the making ($500K) plus 20 days of arguing in court (another $200K). I don't think, it was anywhere near this long — was it?

Re:How do you run up $700K in legal fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831494)

Settling immediately is completely different to arguing a case in court, especially when the case was appealed. That involves researching and writing big stacks of legal documents. See http://www.eff.org/Censorship/Apple_v_Does/ [eff.org] .

Also, it's very rare for a U.S. court to award fees like this. It's a sign that the court thought Apple's actions in bringing this lawsuit were pretty egregious. When you do win fees, there's a damage multiplier, x2 or so. So the real costs of fighting this case were a bit lower.

Wow. (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831002)

And here I thought there wasn't any money to be made off blogging anymore, turns out you just need to be the blogger's lawyer instead of the blogger. I wish there was any amount of common sense I could display that'd earn me $700,000.

$700,000?!?! (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831068)

OK, I certainly don't live under a rock, but $700,000 in legal fees? Holy crap! Maybe IT wasn't the right field to get into!!!!!

Re:$700,000?!?! (1)

netsfr (839855) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831328)

I doubt much of that $700K goes to anyone but the lawyers...

Re:$700,000?!?! (1)

Jeff Fohl (597433) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831674)

I think that was his point.

Re:$700,000?!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831878)

A good friend is a lawyer and it isn't all easy street. She had to start out from law school for only $80K and slave away at that level for months before she got paid a decent wage. It's a wonder she could keep up the Lexus payments.

Re:$700,000?!?! (1)

jbarr (2233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17832890)

She had to start out from law school for only $80K and slave away at that level for months before she got paid a decent wage.
I know it's all relative, and we have to compare apples to apples when comparing salaries, but I just find it amazing that $80K is not considered a decent wage.

Apple will pay and keep trying to find the leak... (0)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831070)

.... as they believe that cutting sites like Appleinsider, Thinksecret, MacRumors and the like are a threat to the way they do business. $700K is NOTHING to them.

Implications? (2, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831078)

'Subpoenaing journalist sources is not an acceptable means of discovery.'

This sounds like it has some pretty big implications on freedom of the press, making it easier for journalists to keep their sources confidential (important if you want to keep your sources!)
=Smidge=

Re:Implications? (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831214)

No, this is a very old issue. Many states have these so-called Shield Laws [wikipedia.org] to protect the press' sources.

One of the main arguments for shield laws is that nobody inside a corrupt organization (read: corrupt government) would speak to a reporter for fear of retribution.

Obligatory South Park Quote (1)

porkrind (314254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831114)

Step 1: piss off Apple

Step 2:... ugh, even I'm tired of this joke *sigh*

-John Mark
Hyperic Community Outreach

Re:Obligatory South Park Quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17834820)

More like
Step 1: Become a lawyer
Step 2: ...

Apple and Pro Audio (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831204)

Apple should really stay out of the pro audio market. There is enough garbage mic pre's avalable. They will just become another behinger.

You fAIL it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831240)

A different take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831264)

When I think about this whole ordeal, the only thing that I think about is how sad I am that Asteroid isn't going to be comming to market. I really want a Apple designed Firewire audio interface, and now there won't be one. I think all the rumormongering is hurting Apple as a company, forcing it to protect its secrets.

So, what was this leaked information? (1)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17831304)

I want to know more about "asteroid"

Re:So, what was this leaked information? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17831824)

You're a triangular spaceship in the future and your goal is to destroy the Astroids!

goIat (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17833304)

Ok. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17834204)

Don't sign NDA's if you don't want to abide by them.

I doubt that the bloggers were unaware of the fact that the information they were publishing was under NDA. That said, they also didn't sign the NDA. So bravo for them for not laying down and giving up their source. I hate rats.

It's definitely in Apples interest to protect their secrets, and you can't blame them for trying to do that- they just went about it the wrong way.

Does anyone have a mirror of what details were even released? I mean, should the bloggers have shown a bit of candor in what they published? It's not like they're exposing Apples hidden baby killing factory, they're publishing information about unreleased products.
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