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Apple Wins Against Bloggers 672

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the subpoenas-ahoy dept.
linuxwrangler writes "Saying that no one has the right to publish information that could have been provided only by someone breaking the law, judge James Kleinberg ruled that online reporters for Apple Insider and PowerPage must reveal their sources. No word yet on an appeal."
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Apple Wins Against Bloggers

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  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Friday March 11, 2005 @08:49PM (#11916053)
    (Note: More coverage in this news.com story [com.com])

    This judge has clearly shown that he has a grasp of the fundamental issues surrounding this case, and has realized that this is not a case about whether online sites are "journalists" or about the "right to blog". It's about when it's about when the dissemination of information in the public interest clearly overrides any other legal concerns or contracts and entitles journalists to not reveal their sources - and when it clearly doesn't.

    And if you're not going to RTFA, here is some of the jugde's ruling:

    "Unlike the whistleblower who discloses a health, safety or welfare hazard affecting all, or the government employee who reveals mismanagement or worse by our public officials, [the enthusiast sites] are doing nothing more than feeding the public's insatiable desire for information.[1]

    [...]

    Defining what is a 'journalist' has become more complicated as the variety of media has expanded. But even if the movants are journalists, this is not the equivalent of a free pass.

    [...]

    The journalist's privilege is not absolute. For example, journalists cannot refuse to disclose information when it relates to a crime.

    [...]

    [The information about Apple's unreleased products] is stolen property, just as any physical item, such as a laptop computer containing the same information on its hard drive [or not] would be. The bottom line is there is no exception or exemption in either the [Uniform Trade Secrets Act] or the Penal Code for journalists--however defined--or anyone else.

    [...]

    The public has had, and continues to have, a profound interest in gossip about Apple. Therefore, it is not surprising that hundreds of thousands of 'hits' on a Web site about Apple have and will happen. But an interested public is not the same as the public interest."


    Note that the judge did not say that Think Secret and other online sites weren't journalists; indeed, he tacitly acknowledged that they, and many others, may in fact be "journalists". But that fact is, correctly, irrelevant. In other words, online sites or bloggers may in fact be journalists; this isn't about "the right to blog". However, being a "journalist" does not automatically mean the mechanisms of obtaining information, the information itself, and the sources of the information are automatically protected by journalist shield laws and exempt from discovery, especially when otherwise applicable laws (such as the UTSA) may have been violated. In other words, when a crime may have been committed (and the burden of whether or not this information constitutes a "trade secret" still rests on Apple, even after this ruling).

    Further, the judge makes no distinction between online publications and mainstream newspapers, simply a distinction that any and all information gathering mechanisms are not necessarily protected if other laws are violated. The assertion on the part of some that "these subpoenas wouldn't exist if it was the New York Times or salon.com" is baseless at best.

    No doubt someone will find issue with what is or isn't "public interest" and the fact that the courts (i.e. the "government") must make such a determination and is simply shifting the importance of whether someone can be considered a "journalist" to another consideration, essentially allowing the government to decide what is "acceptable" to be leaked and what isn't, and will make arguments that this will make it easier for corporations and/or the government to hide abuses, stop whistleblowers, etc. However, all of these arguments are red herrings. The court clearly acknowledged that sources information in the clear public interest must indeed be protected. Further note that the court DID NOT rule on the merits of Apple's claim itself, i.e., that the information was in fact a trade secret: "The order of this court does not go beyond the questions necessary t
    • by SpryGuy (206254) on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:05PM (#11916140)
      Does this mean that Robert Novak has to reveal his sources in the Valerie Plame story? Since that involves TREASON, which is a bit more serious than revealing trade secrets, doesn't this ruling apply there as well?

      • Does this mean that Jeff Gannon aka James Guckert was just as much of a "journalist" as anyone else in the White House Press room? Since there is a BLOGGER in the White House now, and apparently anyone with a web site is a journalist, doesn't this apply there as well?

        (Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic there.)

        Or shall we stay on topic here?

        And to directly answer your question, yes, Novak should reveal his source if there is ever any court action that compels him to do so. (Disclaimer: I am not familiar wi
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Does this mean that Jeff Gannon aka James Guckert was just as much of a "journalist" as anyone else in the White House Press room?

          The difference between Gannon and a "real" journalist is that Gannon tells you his bias up front.

          Let's not pretend that journalists are magic beings. They had their chance and these past few years demonstrated that they aren't as ethically pure as they claim.

          Since there is a BLOGGER in the White House now, and apparently anyone with a web site is a journalist, doesn't thi

          • >And as Dan Rather proves, your reputation is only as good as your last story.

            And pray tell, if this is true then how does Judith "front page WMD stories for 2 years at the NYTimes" Miller still have a job? Novak still has his column and TV spots.

            Your rule only applies if you go against a certain party's agenda. If you're a biased journalist doing said party's agenda, you're golden.
      • I'd say no. You could make the argument that the Valerie Plame story involves public intrest, because it revolves around alleged nepotism and poor quality research done at the CIA.

        Not that Novak shouldn't be put in jail for being a douche. I'm just saying...
        • by John Newman (444192) on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:42PM (#11916380)
          I'd say no. You could make the argument that the Valerie Plame story involves public intrest, because it revolves around alleged nepotism and poor quality research done at the CIA.
          But two other reporters with only tangential links to the story, the New York Times' Judith Miller and Time magazine's Matthew Cooper, are being held in contempt of court, and are facing 18 months in prison for not naming their sources in connection with the case. Clearly the judge in their cases feels the Valerie Plame story involves critical public interest, so the only question is why these two and not the guy who actually published it?
          • But two other reporters with only tangential links to the story, the New York Times' Judith Miller and Time magazine's Matthew Cooper, are being held in contempt of court, and are facing 18 months in prison for not naming their sources in connection with the case. Clearly the judge in their cases feels the Valerie Plame story involves critical public interest, so the only question is why these two and not the guy who actually published it?

            How do you know Novak hasn't already been called and revealed everyt

          • Where have you read that he refused to reveal his sources? From what I understand the trial proceedings are closed door stuff. He may have already been deposed and is waiting till they call him next. They only people you are hearing about are the people who are refusing to comply with the courts.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2005 @01:25AM (#11917444)
            Welcome to Amerika! Isn't ironic that someone in the so-called "War President's" administration who are supposedly keeping us safe from terrorists, outed the identity of a covert CIA operative responsible for preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons? This was not done to expose "nepotism", as some have suggested, but as a retaliation for her husband's critique of the phony Nigerian yellowcake story which the administration kept harping on as part of it's "proof" of Saddam's weapons programs. If Bush were truly concerned with truth and accountability, why has he not taken the lead here and gotten to the bottom of this? We spent millions investigating Clinton's extramarital affairs, but the "party of morality" can't investagate any of the many shady things this administration has done? The news media runs story after story on the the Swift Boat Vets bashing Kerry (and who are now known to have been lying), but CBS fires Dan Rather for citing a single document regarding Bush's dereliction of duty with questionable veracity? Liberal media my ass!
        • Unfortunately, the problem is that the Valerie Plame story:

          a) Does not involve nepotism. Valerie and her husband were both very clear that she had not been involved in any way with his selection, and reliable sources at the CIA confirmed this. Wilson was qualified.

          b) Does not involve poor-quality research. Plame and her husband's research on the Niger Yellowcake documents was one of the few shining high points in the events surrounding Dubya's bullheaded rush to war. The two of them confirmed that the d

      • by Calibax (151875) * on Friday March 11, 2005 @11:22PM (#11916922)
        I honestly can't see why these two reporters are protecting their sources in the Valerie Plame case. Supposedly, someone (or some people) wanted to settle a score with the operative's husband and decided that the best way was to ruin this lady's career. This was a criminal act under Section 421 of Title 50 of the United States Code (better known as the Intelligence Identities Protection Act) which is designed to protect the agent, the agent's contacts in the USA and in foreign countries, and prevent impairment of the country's national security efforts.

        In short, these reporters were used to do someone's dirty work. They must have known this, but they still protect the person or persons who used them, possibly even to the extent of going to jail.

        Here's an example of the difficulty in allowing the reporters to keep secrets. Suppose that I happen to know that a friend of mine is a spy and I tell anyone this fact, then I can go to prison for 10 years. But (by the reporters reasoning) if I tell a journalist, he can publish that information with impunity and doesn't even have to say where he got the information. Doesn't that seem wrong somehow?

        In any case, how does it serve the interests of the country to publish the name of an American spy? The idea of shielding journalists is so that they are free to communicate freely and to report on scandals that need to be exposed to public scrutiny. In this case, the sources that the reporters are protecting were not whistleblowers with knowledge of a scandal. Indeed, the sources ARE the scandal. They are not brave tellers of truth, determined to get a dastardly plot out in the public eye - they are nothing but craven scoundrels bent on settling a score. I would have thought that real journalists would hate being used in this fashion. I know I would.

        Wouldn't it serve the best interests of the press to expose these people rather than protect them?
        • "Wouldn't it serve the best interests of the press to expose these people rather than protect them?"

          It would serve the best interests of the public, yes, but it would mean these two reporters would effectively destroy their careers because no confidential source would ever trust them again, therefor they would never get any confidential information which is what most good journalists live for. There isn't much demand for journalists who only write about things that are already public knowledge.

          I'm inclin
    • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:08PM (#11916152) Journal
      While it's certainly appreciable that journalists cannot refuse to disclose information when it relates to a crime, there is no hard evidence that a crime was actually committed, only an allegation that a crime was committed. That's why, IMO, the identities should have remained protected. The fact that they couldn't prove a crime had occurred _unless_ they knew the identities of the sources is irrellevant as far as I can tell and to assume otherwise is tantamount to saying that a person is guilty until proven innocent.

      Although my feelings on the matter are irrellevant... the judge made his decision, I only hope that the consequences for the precedent aren't unmanageable.

      • Not true - the only way for that information to have come into the possession of the bloggers was for someone to have committed a crime - stealing trade secrets.

        The only way for that not to be true is if Apple itself had authorized the release, which clearly they did not.
      • by amper (33785) * on Friday March 11, 2005 @10:05PM (#11916505) Homepage Journal
        I disagree. The fact that wrongdoing was involved (and here I hesitate to characterize the act as criminal, as opposed to civil, being as I am not familiar with CA contract law) is empirically demonstrated by the fact that the only way that the information in question could have been released is if someone under prior restriction (as in an NDA) revealed it to the journalists involved.

        The relevant question is, does Apple have a right to discover the identities of the violator(s)?

        I believe that they do. Declan McCullagh's article (news.com) on the topic is indicative of the false assumptions made by many people as concerns this case. As the judge correctly surmised, an "interested public" does not equate with "the public interest". The Watergate scandal involved criminal acts that clearly reached to highest levels of government. Apple v. Doe involves a tort committed against a corporation inclear violation of prior agreements. The two are not equivalent.

        Freedom of speech and freedom of the press do not, and should not, extend to an ability to withhold the identities of persons who have committed an illegal act. The same would be true even if we were discussing the attorney/client privilege. An attorney who is privy to physical edvidence that his client is guilty can be lawfully compelled to reveal that information.

        This is not about corporate interests v. the public interest.
    • I agree that the judge should not make this about whether or not bloggers are journalists. That's where our agreement ends.

      "No doubt that still others will make claims that the very idea of "trade secrets" is wrong, and that the UTSA is unconstitutional. This, of course, completely ignores the basic ideas of property, including intellectual property, and good-faith agreements to not reveal your employer's secrets, not to mention fundamental ideas of ethics, and further ignores the idea that free speech

      • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:26PM (#11916266)
        Your entire post is irrelevant to the topic at hand, but I'll pick just this piece:

        You're wrong in a million ways, but the most important one is this. This particular expression of speech does not in any way present a clear and present danger to life and limb and consequently, it not only "ought" to be protected, it is protected according to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Threatening someone's profit margin is not the same thing as threatening their safety.

        The speech IS protected. No one is going to throw the proprietors of Think Secret, PowerPage, or AppleInsider in jail over their speech.

        What is NOT protected are their sources, who are breaking currently in force, legally binding confidentiality agreements to reveal the information, and the fact that the web sites, by publishing said information, are also in violation of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, versions of which have been adopted by 45 states including California.

        This is not about speech. This is not about the right to blog. And if you think it's about the employees' right to "speak" about topics covered under confidentiality agreement, apparently someone forgot to tell them, and you, that they don't have to work there if they have that little respect for good-faith agreements with their own employer.
        • Actually, all that actually exists is the _allegation_ that the sources broke the law. There is no cold hard evidence to support that fact beyond Apple's inability to imagine that the sources didn't actually work for them and may have obtained the information themselves via another leak where the law _was_ broken.
          • by Slack3r78 (596506) on Friday March 11, 2005 @10:56PM (#11916788) Homepage
            I've seen this argument made by yourself and several other posters, and I'm sorry, but you're wrong.

            From the Judge's opinion [eff.net], posted on the EFF's site:

            The posting by Mr. O'Grady contained an exact copy of a detailed drawing of "Asteroid" created by Apple. The drawing was taken from a confidential set of slides clearly labeled "Apple Need-to-Knox Confidential." In addition, technical specifications were copied verbatim from the confidential slide set and posted on the online site. These postings by Mr. O'Grady were spread over three days, November 19, 22 and 23, 2004. The Court is convinced by Apple's presentation, including the materials produced
            in camera that this action has passed the necessary thresholds for discovery to proceed.


            In short, Apple had strong enough evidence that this information wasn't just accidently leaked to convince the court that trade secret laws had been violated and for the subpeonas to go forward.

        • Well, first I'd like to note that my comments were more in response to the parent than to the article.

          Second, "This is not about speech. This is not about the right to blog. And if you think it's about the employees' right to "speak" about topics covered under confidentiality agreement, apparently someone forgot to tell them, and you, that they don't have to work there if they have that little respect for good-faith agreements with their own employer."

          I was half-kidding about the astroturfing before, b

          • Re:Offtopic...? (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Maserati (8679)
            "...who has broken no laws, I might add"

            mmmm.... Well, Think Secret is somewhat of an accessory-after-the-fact. If an NDA was violated - and Apple did show that the leaked information was both very detailed and clearly marked confidential - then a crime has been committed. If a crime has been committed then the (alleged) victim has a right to pursue the criminal through the courts. Even a New York Times or Washington Post reporter would have been required to turn over their source if this fact pattern had
        • You're sure having a better day then Apple!

          What is NOT protected are their sources, who are breaking currently in force, legally binding confidentiality agreements to reveal the information

          Apple sure hasn't been able to figure out the source of this stuff except for a bludgeon-style court proceeding! But presumably, in order to state that as fact, YOU must know who the source(s) is/are? Why don't you just tell Apple, then, and get the whole mess over with?

          Unless, of course, it's you?

          and the fact

    • I thank Dog that there is at least one judge in this country with a brain. Justice has prevailed here, people...move along, now.
    • This, of course, completely ignores the basic ideas of property, including intellectual property, and good-faith agreements to not reveal your employer's secrets, not to mention fundamental ideas of ethics, and further ignores the idea that free speech is not, and never has been, absolute, in that it has ramifications.

      1. One would assume that one finding "trade secrets" and the UTSA unconstitutional wasn't all that keen on intellectual property in the first place, and most certainly would dismiss that it

    • My two "Mac the Knife" coffee mugs from the rumor column in MacWeek will probably rake in more on eBay after this ruling.

      Gosh, I feel so sorry that the rumor mongers secrets will be revealed when they didn't want them to be, but it's all in my best interest of making money!

      Hmm, where have I heard that argument before. :-)
    • The real lesson here is "Cover your ass".

      Meaning, that from now on websites and the like will destroy incoming emails after they have been read and disclaimers will accompany all of their announcements like "An anonymous source claims..." about any upcoming advances.

      The outlet itself will be able to avoid direct lawsuits because they have given notice that what they have published is speculation and they haven't claimed it to be factual. When they are subpoena'd for records they can honestly say "Your hon
    • This, of course, completely ignores the basic ideas of property, including intellectual property, and good-faith agreements to not reveal your employer's secrets, not to mention fundamental ideas of ethics, and further ignores the idea that free speech is not, and never has been, absolute, in that it has ramifications.

      You're rolling a whole lot under one umbrella there. Physical property is different from so-called intellectual property, is different from ethics and deception.

      Apple is trying to create a
  • What to think... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozric99 (162412) on Friday March 11, 2005 @08:49PM (#11916055) Journal
    Do we like this because it's Apple, or do we hate this because 'geeks' lost their case...
  • Sources (Score:5, Funny)

    by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday March 11, 2005 @08:49PM (#11916057) Homepage Journal
    Dear Apple,

    I heard it on Slashdot.org

    There was this guy, I think he was call Anthony Coward or something, and he was telling me all about the fab new stuff. ...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    head spinning ...must stop self destruct sequence..
  • by FrankieBoy (452356) on Friday March 11, 2005 @08:50PM (#11916062)
    This isn't about protecting sources, this is corporate espionage plain and simple. They're not protecting reporting sources, they're shielding criminals.
    • Espionage is when Huawei steals Cisco source and uses it in its own routers.

      Leaking a press release early is just more press. It is a farce and I would boycott apple if I was actually in the habit of buying their products in the first place.
    • While I do agree with you that the ruling in this case probably was correct, I firmly disagree that it was a simple case.

      The ruling means that I cannot go to a journalist with suspicions that my current employer may use illegal methods. It probably means that I cannot go to a journalist even if I am absolutely certain my employer uses illegal methods, because it would be illegal of me to disclose that my company behaves illegally. On the other hand, it is illegal not to denounce criminals... Oh, well, I g

  • Appeal (Score:5, Informative)

    by Valiss (463641) on Friday March 11, 2005 @08:52PM (#11916067) Homepage
    From Slashdot:
    No word yet on an appeal.

    From the article:
    He said the trio would appeal the judge's ruling.

    Oi, this is getting bad. I mean, do the submitter read the articles they submit?
  • by Leo McGarry (843676) on Friday March 11, 2005 @08:56PM (#11916093)
    This blogger, whom I have become completely addicted to, wrote the best article I've read on the subject [shapeofdays.com]. It deals with only one of the several lawsuits filed, but the points he makes are real thought-provokers.

    Sorry for being such a shameless pimp, but I really think people who are interested in this Apple story would be interested in this article.

    (I got the link from MacSlash last weekend.)
  • by scbomber (463069) * on Friday March 11, 2005 @08:58PM (#11916106)
    This ruling is solely concerned with whether the journalists are entitled to be protected from Apple's subpoena of their records. Quoting the ruling:

    "The order of this court does not go beyond the questions necessary to determine this motion seeking a protective order against that single subpoena, and it cannot and should not be read or interpreted more broadly," the judge said. "The court makes no finding as to the ultimate merits of Apple's claims, or any defenses to those claims. Those issues remain for another day."
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:00PM (#11916116) Journal
    Because nobody will want to tell them anything anymore, since they have no guarantee of identity protection.
    • by Shinzaburo (416221) on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:20PM (#11916228) Homepage
      We could only be so lucky. Honestly, I won't mind too much if this hubbub results in ThinkSecret and the rest of the rumor mill going belly-up. Much like the judge mentioned in his ruling, I don't believe the "information" those sites provide actually serves the public interest. If the prognosticating were half-way reliable, perhaps it might have value to those to need to make purchase decisions. But it's not half-way reliable, so there really isn't any value being provided.

      Those sites just take all the sizzle out of Apple's announcements, leaving people unnecessarily disappointed and let down. Good riddance to them.
    • I don't understand why people assume the source's name is known in the first place. This will just spell the end of people giving their name to bloggers when they violate their contracts. Was a wakeup call really needed on that front?
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:01PM (#11916122) Homepage
    People who publish trade secrets that might hurt a company are forced to reveal their sources, but people who publish Top Secret documents are protected. (Anybody remember that stupid ruling on The Pentagon Papers?) I guess that proves that businesses are more important than National Security.
    • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:06PM (#11916146)
      That's because freedom of press is supposed to protect against government abuses. Without a free press, it is difficult to keep the government accountable to the people.

      What you seem to be confused about is that companies, like people have rights which have to be considered.

      • What you seem to be confused about is that companies, like people have rights which have to be considered.

        You make a good point, but miss mine. Apple had every right to protect its trade secrets. I see nothing wrong with what they did, and if insiders violated NDAs, they deserve what they get.

        Granted, the Pentagon Papers shouldn't have been classified Top Secret, because they didn't qualify, but that's what they were. Whoever leaked them broke the law in doing so, and the newspaper had no right to pos

      • That's because freedom of press is supposed to protect against government abuses. Without a free press, it is difficult to keep the government accountable to the people.

        So we have nothing to protect us against corporate abuses? We aren't allowed to keep corporations accountable via v free and open press? It's funny but I don't recall seeing any qualification on the first amendment stating its intent in my copy of the Constitution.

      • by cgranade (702534) <cgranade @ g m a il.com> on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:35PM (#11916330) Homepage Journal

        No, they don't. The Constitution does not protect the right of a corporation to do anything. There is no fundamental right to make money, to go into business, or anything similar. Witness false advertising laws, which are wholly consistant with free press and free speech. The myth of corporate "rights" is a recent one, and somewhat devestating. Even if you feel that corporations should have rights, there is no fundamental document stating explicitly which rights they do have. This means that any judge ruling on the topic has to navigate solely through precidence, and may override it at whim. Objectively evaluating the standards by which a corporation should be held is damn near impossible.

        So, in short, no. Corporations do not presently have rights, but have a set of a sort of "virtual rights," which exist only in court precedent, and in convention. There is no formalism for corporate rights.

        As a side note, if you believe that corporate abuse is any less deadly in today's world than government abuse, or even that they aren't in many ways the same thing, I have a nice bridge to sell you.

    • You know, the one where "corporate business" *is* the new national security?
    • techno-vampire [slashdot.org] wrote:

      People who publish trade secrets that might hurt a company are forced to reveal their sources, but people who publish Top Secret documents are protected. (Anybody remember that stupid ruling on The Pentagon Papers?) I guess that proves that businesses are more important than National Security.

      The judge addressed this distinction directly in his ruling (quoting from daveschroeder [slashdot.org] who quoted the ruling above [slashdot.org]):

      Unlike the whistleblower who discloses a health, safety or welfare hazard

  • Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:16PM (#11916202)
    The employees stole and disclosed company trade secrets. The broke the law and are criminals, they should be treated as criminals.

    The people that published this material are accessories to a crime and should also be treated as criminals.

    This isn't about free speech, this is about a crime.

    • how many people fail to realize this. If they fail to enforce their NDA agreements I would thing it would set a bad precedent for them in the future when the leak might be something really damaging. It reminds me a lot of the enforce it or lose it aspect with trademarks and such.

    • Re:Good! (Score:3, Insightful)

      The people that published this material are accessories to a crime and should also be treated as criminals.

      Like those here on Slashdot who published copies of DeCSS in violation of the DMCA?

  • The Rule of Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Viking Coder (102287) on Friday March 11, 2005 @09:17PM (#11916204)
    Saying that no one has the right to publish information that could have been provided only by someone breaking the law

    It's about time Robert Novak was thrown in jail for outing Valerie Plame!

    Oh - we're just talking about Apple insiders? Who gives a fuck?
  • there are laws that provide journalists with their *right* to play their role in our society,that is, to bring on the truth.

    How there could be a free press with they are obligated to reveal their sources? Who in his right mind would step up to speak against anything if you are going to be prosecuted (or silenced in any other way)?

    Thats plain wrong!

  • either way (Score:2, Interesting)

    I've been using Apple's products since the Apple II+ way back in 1980. 25 years of Apple hardware, software, programming, and sharing the goodness of the Apple way with friends and family. I've always had a warm fuzzy feeling for the company, their employees, and their products.

    Over the last couple of weeks, though, the feeling started to fade. It's completely gone now.

    Apple is just another company.

    You'd think after the cancer scare Jobs would have mellowed out.
  • Bloggers have been calling themselves journalists for a while now. We'll see how seriously these guys take the responsibity, that is, we'll see if any of them be willing to go to jail to protect their sources.
  • by blanks (108019) on Friday March 11, 2005 @11:07PM (#11916848) Homepage Journal
    "no one has the right to publish information that could have been provided only by someone breaking the law"

    Naturally these days everything and anything breaks the law, and it comes down to who haves the most money.
  • by justins (80659) on Friday March 11, 2005 @11:12PM (#11916877) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one who reads the reactions of the fanboy multitudes to this and thinks about running out to buy a gun and join the Libertarian party or something?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 11, 2005 @11:45PM (#11917011)
    Back in 1995 Steve Young of CNN told me "CNN protects its sources." I was on the phone with him discussing having CNN send a camera crew to interview me the next day.

    I had just told him there was no way he could put me on the air. Intel was at that time reeling from the consequences from the fiasco that was the math flaw in the Pentium processor.

    What I had in my possession made that math flaw look like a minor hang nail.

    I had trade secret documents from Intel, legally released to me under non-disclosure agreement (since expired, so now the tale can be told).

    The contents of those documents revealed flaws in Intel 486 processors that basically rendered them "Unsafe at any speed".

    Countless users were suffering crashes, data loss, God alone only knew what forms and totals of lost productivity, revenue, opportunities were being wracked up daily due to the serious flaws. And even Microsoft was being unfairly painted with creating even less reliable software than they genuinely deserved to be excoriated for (the infamous BSOD's weren't always their fault...)

    Steve was trying to convince me that "the public good" out weighed my honoring Intel's non-disclosure agreement.

    He told me that I could mail the documents to him and that "CNN protects its sources."

    Here it is 10 years later and I wonder, how many folks would agree with Steve and how many will support my decision to not hold Intel accountable for their abuses of the public trust.

    The simple math flaw had reportly cost Intel $600 million for a few million chips shipped. The cost of a recall for the far more serious flaws in the 100's of millions of 486 processors shipped could very well have bankrupted Intel, many 486 chips were soldered to their boards.

    Or at the very least have damaged their reputation so badly they would have had a very hard time regaining the public's trust.

    I just wanted to say, the Judge today served up a nice fat juicy sound bite for the press to report. But he's wrong. The right of large corporations to protect their trade secrets is not absolute.

    I also can't help but wonder what the Judge in today's case would have had to say to CNN if I had been at risk in breaking my non-disclosure agreement with Intel?

    Apple has their problems, and if enough customers are persistent enough they generally own up to them and take responsibility for making things right. And today's ruling didn't cover the kinds of information being disclosed that I had from Intel.

    But if Apple rides success with their iPod's upwards and loses the ability to take responsibility, I hope today's ruling doesn't come back to bite us in the ass.

    Yeah I know, sounds great coming from the guy that covered Intel's ass when he had the chance.

    But for a moment, just a moment there, I was tempted to mail those documents.

    What motivated me to silence wasn't a fear of CNN being forced to turn me over. No, it was the advice I got from the local Intel distributor: if anything about the 486 showed up on CNN, Intel would act like I had released it to CNN, whether Intel could prove it or not.

    Turns out, the company I worked for had already gone to Intel and covered their asses... (and Intel paid them off very nicely too)

    After today's ruling, I wouldn't even be tempted.

    Bravo Judge, on this day that will live on in infamy for the actions of a few in Spain this date 3/11/4, you have indeed struck a blow to protect truth, justice and the American way.
    • If you had read the judge's words (or a judge then saying the same) you would have been encouraged to believe that CNN would not release your name. "Unlike the whistleblower who discloses a health, safety or welfare hazard affecting all, or the government employee who reveals mismanagement or worse by our public officials, (the enthusiast sites) are doing nothing more than feeding the public's insatiable desire for information," Judge Kleinberg wrote. Given that Intel's dodgy chips affected the user's welfa
  • by tono (38883) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @12:55AM (#11917294) Homepage
    As others have already pointed out, there's plenty of evidence that the 3 webpublishers knew well in advance the information they were given by their sources was protected under an NDA. That's not what I'm going to talk about, or freedom of the press. I'm all for it, my wife is a newspaper reporter for chrissakes. No I'm going to talk about the concept of trade secrets and how it applies to our capitalist economy.

    Trade secrets are inventions,(new products) and revisions to existing products, if there are more things that might fall under the definition, they don't really matter in this case so don't flame me for omitting a few. If a company invents something(ipod) or revises a currently shipping company product(new g5 powerbook, new powermacs, etc) they are allowed to issue NDAs to their employees to keep their traps shut about them with good reason. If company x finds out about the new products before Apple in this case is ready to release it, and company x copies product and releases at the same time before patents have been issued, then Apple is screwed and loses revenue because of it.

    As you may or may not know, under capitalism companies generally invent and innovate new products so that they themselves can gain the revenue from their research. With no trade secrets or NDAs there is no longer an incentive to do research as a company and capitalism fails.

    With that out of the way, the judge was right to back Apple, if he hadn't many other companies would be severely put in a pickle fiscally by employees leaking detailed specs to other companies. Our economy would be in shambles, and you would all be out of jobs. Granted there is a bit of a slippery slope implied there but thats the fundamental logic behind the case.

    The fact that people are upset about Apple getting a big boost in this stage of the case is absolutely astonishing to me. Freedom woohoo and all but there are limits to every freedom, press, speech, right to arms, every single one of them. The websites in question and the sources should be punished, for different reasons, the sources for breech of contract and the websites for publishing information they knew to be acquired in an illegal manner.

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