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Iphone The Courts Apple

Gizmodo Off the Hook In iPhone 4 Investigation 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-harm-no-foul dept.
An anonymous reader writes "When Gizmodo ran photos of Apple's iPhone 4 months before Apple even officially acknowledged it existed, the blogosphere exploded with excitement. But when details leaked explaining how Gizmodo came to find itself in possession of a pre-release iPhone 4, that excitement quickly turned into indignation, and for some, anger. Now, Gimzodo and Gizmodo editor Jason Chen have been let off the hook by the San Mateo DA's office."
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Gizmodo Off the Hook In iPhone 4 Investigation

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  • Good. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by TWX (665546)

    They didn't steal it.

    They openly acknowledged how they got it.

    They stated, simply, that if it did belong to Apple, which was not a 100% certainty but was likely, that all Apple had to do was to ask for it back through proper channels.

    Instead, we saw what happened. I would rather a judge have found for them and dismissed with prejudice, but at least it appears to be working out.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jhoegl (638955)
      What you see here is a corporation abusing the legal system for no other reason than to protect their ass.

      Funny thing is that in the end, it didnt hurt them at all.

      Of course if the guy had been given the chance to debug the device, perhaps he would have found that pesky little antenna issue.
      • by s73v3r (963317)

        How was that abuse? They went after those involved in taking their prototype. That's not abuse.

        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          Except no one took a prototype. According to the information out there, the guy found it left in a bar, tried to call Apple to let them know and was told by the person that they knew nothing about it. The law in CA states he should have turned it in to the bar tender, but I highly doubt many people knew this was the law or would have done it.

          • by s73v3r (963317)

            Except no one took a prototype

            Excuse me? The phone was left in a bar. Then somebody had it, and then Gizmodo had it. How does that happen without someone "taking" the phone?

            CA law does state he should have turned it into the bartender. He did not, and thus was in violation of that law. And if you recall, the guy called AppleCare. How the fuck would AppleCare know about a prototype phone?

            If the guy wasn't looking to take the phone, he should have messaged the guy who lost it. They had his Facebook account. There is absolutely no excuse f

      • by JamesP (688957)

        What you see here is a corporation abusing the legal system for no other reason than to protect their ass.

        Everybody would do the same in a similar situation.

        Of course if the guy had been given the chance to debug the device, perhaps he would have found that pesky little antenna issue.

        Well, of course he didn't get the problem, the iPhone was hidden inside a case!

        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          If I recall correctly, the prototype was actually made up to look like an iPhone 3, so it didn't have the external antenna of the final release version of the 4.

          • It had the iPhone 4 design, it was just put inside an iPhone 3 external shell. Remove the shell around the outside, and you've got an iPhone 4 case with external antenna design.

            This is exactly why Gizmodo bought it to begin with. The person who picked it up realized that it wasn't really an iPhone 3GS, it was a different phone hiding in a 3GS shell. Otherwise, why would anyone have any interest in something that looked like a 3GS?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They didn't steal it.

      No, but they knew it was stolen. And they bought it anyway.

      • Ah yes, but can we truly "know" anything. Your honor, I call Socrates to the stand.

        Seriously though, the thieving bastards are innocent until proven guilty and apparently no wrongdoing on their part can be proven.

    • Re:Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dahamma (304068) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @05:50PM (#37050284)

      They bought it for $10,000 after the "seller" explained to them he thought it was a lost prototype iPhone. Both parties even knew who owned it from the phone's info; selling/buying someone else's property seems like dealing in stolen property to me. And then to make it worse, they disassembled it and broke it while trying to put it back together.

      If they didn't think it was really a lost prototype from Apple, why would they have done any of those things? Intent is an important consideration in legal matters like this, and their actions clearly showed their intent...

      • Depending on how they couched the previous press releases, they may have contended that they paid $10,000 for the rights to a story about the new iPhone, and the "finder" gave them the hardware to prove that his story about the new iPhone details was real.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Depending on how they couched the previous press releases, they may have contended that they paid $10,000 for the rights to a story about the new iPhone, and the "finder" gave them the hardware to prove that his story about the new iPhone details was real.

          ...so the defense would be: "No, sir, we didn't buy this phone we knew to be stolen; we rented it in order to profit by dismantling it and putting photos of it in our website. (And yeah, sorry for breaking it!)" Yeah, that's gonna work great.

          I don't understand why the DA isn't going after them.

          • I agree. The case appears to be a slam dunk for the DA. The idiot troll Gizmodo editors didn't even bother consulting an attorney, didn't even occur to them that there was any moral or legal issue with purchasing a stolen corporate secret prototype ... fools.

            I wonder though, with all the trouble and loss of revenue Gizmodo caused with the Antennagate BS, if Apple made some deal with Gizmodo to have the charges dismissed if the quasi-journalists' stop being such asshats. Doesn't seem likely... as Apple mer

            • by tlhIngan (30335)

              I agree. The case appears to be a slam dunk for the DA. The idiot troll Gizmodo editors didn't even bother consulting an attorney, didn't even occur to them that there was any moral or legal issue with purchasing a stolen corporate secret prototype ... fools.

              I wonder though, with all the trouble and loss of revenue Gizmodo caused with the Antennagate BS, if Apple made some deal with Gizmodo to have the charges dismissed if the quasi-journalists' stop being such asshats. Doesn't seem likely... as Apple merci

              • They weren't charged because there's simply no evidence. They said they paid $10,000, but the only evidence was a posting.

                I don't think $10K can change hands without other available evidence existing (bank records, $10K check being cashed, or even if it was cash, there had to be a withdrawal). This would be circumstantial, because the money exchanged could have been for anything... except what you said, Gizmodo posted the story of their acquisition. But by the time the DA wants a deposition/testimony from the writers, I'm sure they're lawyered up and protected by the 5th Amendment from incriminating themselves. I suppose that

              • The Gizmodo thing probably cost Gizmodo more in the end - Apple's basically blackballed them, and Apple brings in LOTS of clicks. In fact, at WWDC 2010, they were BEGGING for a press pass. Why they didn't think to purchase a ticket instead (sure, the press pass is free, but the iPhone4 reveal made that super unlikely).

                Well, Apple may well have reached the point where they refuse to admit them to the event even if they bought tickets.

                And if Gawker was smart, everything they did would've been over the phone or in-person. They weren't charged because there's simply no evidence. They said they paid $10,000, but the only evidence was a posting.

                "Sir, our statement that we paid $10,000 for the stolen phone was a lie. The truth is that knowingly accepted that stolen phone for free!"

          • According to this story [mercurynews.com], it's not that the DA didn't have a case against them, but he knew Gizmodo would try a First Amendment defense, and didn't want to get into a protracted legal battle over it.

        • by s73v3r (963317)

          And everyone and their mother would know that story would be complete bullshit.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        They bought it for $10,000 after the "seller" explained to them he thought it was a lost prototype iPhone. Both parties even knew who owned it from the phone's info; selling/buying someone else's property seems like dealing in stolen property to me.

        Before the seller sold it to Gizmodo, he called Apple and explained he had one of their prototype phones. He did this multiple times. At first they told him that could not be the case, then they took his information and just never got back to him.

        At that point, it's abandoned property. Once he sold it, Gizmodo also attempted to contact Apple, explaining that all they needed to do is to acknowledge that the phone was indeed theirs (which would be great for them, because it would confirm it was a legit pro

        • by Dahamma (304068)

          Before the seller sold it to Gizmodo, he called Apple and explained he had one of their prototype phones. He did this multiple times. At first they told him that could not be the case, then they took his information and just never got back to him.

          At that point, it's abandoned property.

          That's absurd. 1) why would he think it was *Apple* property unless he knew it was a valuable prototype phone? It was lost by a guy in a bar - a guy who's name and contact info he already knew. If someone found your iPhone phone and really wanted to return it to you, would they call Apple?? 2) in an even less impressive display of token ass-covering he called a random customer support number of one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world. He probably told some random outsourced supp

        • No, Apple demanded it back. Steve Jobs even personally called, but Gizmodo refused [telegraph.co.uk]:

          According to newly released California state court documents Jobs, also the company's chief executive, personally contacted Brian Lam, the editor of Gizmodo.com which obtained the sensitive device, asking they return it.

          The New York-based technology gadget website said it would only return the device if Apple confirmed its authenticity.

          Sounds like extortion to me.

        • Before the seller sold it to Gizmodo, he called Apple and explained he had one of their prototype phones. He did this multiple times. At first they told him that could not be the case, then they took his information and just never got back to him.

          So, the front-desk people Hogan talked to at Apple didn't know about the supar secret prototype. Um, actually, I mean, the front-desk people he talked to at Apple instead of contacting the guy that he knew had lost the phone (whose name he knew!) or the bar where he lost it (which the phone-loss guy called a few times trying to recover it), didn't know about the supar secret prototype. This just means that Hogan knew better than those front-desk folks. Not just that, but he also knew that he knew better,

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        Gizmodo called up Apple and tried to return it. That's exculpatory enough for me.

        • by Dahamma (304068)

          So, if I stole your phone and called up some random Apple tech support who told me they didn't want it, I can get off scott free? Cool!

          This guy didn't "find" the phone sitting on Apple's front step. He found it in a bar (and even admitted he saw the guy who left it behind) and all he *really* knew was, oh, the exact name and contact information of the guy who left it. Taking it apart and guessing that it was a prototype, then calling Apple directly seems incriminating, not exculpatory, for both the "find

          • by ShakaUVM (157947)

            If you ever read the backstory, they actually tracked down the guy that lost it, and tried to give it back to the iPhone devs at Apple. Not the Apple Coat Check desk.

            • by Dahamma (304068)

              I have read the backstory, have you? This is a direct excerpt from Gizmodo's own story about it. Emphasis is Gizmodo's own commentary on it...

              Here's how it went down, allegedly, from the perspective of the Apple reps who got the call:

              I work for AppleCare as a tier 2 agent and before the whole thing about a leak hit the Internet the guy working next to me got the call from the guy looking to return the phone. From our point of view it seemed as a hoax or that the guy had a knockoff, internally apple doesn't tell us anything and we haven't gotten any notices or anything about a lost phone, much less anything stating we are making a new one. When the guy called us he gave us a vague description and couldn't provide pics, so like I mentioned previously, we thought it was a china knockoff the guy found. We wouldn't have any idea what to do with it and that's what sucks about working for apple, we're given just enough info to try and help people but not enough info to do anything if someone calls like this.

              If the guy could have provided pictures it would have been sent to our engineers and then I'm sure we'd have gotten somewhere from there, but because we had so little to go on we pushed it off as bogus.


              And seriously, what else could have happened? There is no way—not a chance—that a middle-level customer service rep would have known anything about the next iPhone. Put yourself in his theoretical shoes:

              Hello, thanks for calling AppleCare

              Hello. I think I have some kind of iPhone prototype, or something!

              What?

              Yeah, it's kinda square, and it doesn't work. I found it in a bar.

              Ok! Thanks for calling.

              He knew the name, address, and contact info of the individua

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      Taking a phone in a bar is considered stealing. And paying money for said objects is Paying for Stolen Goods, which is against the law.

    • They didn't steal it.

      No, technically they didn't steal it. But they did knowingly purchase property they knew did not belong to the seller - which by the way is also against the law.

      They openly acknowledged how they got it.

      In most places, this is known as "publicly admitting guilt".

      Instead, we saw what happened. I would rather a judge have found for them and dismissed with prejudice, but at least it appears to be working out.

      I'd have love to see the end up in front of a judge too - only I w

    • They didn't steal it.

      They openly acknowledged how they got it.

      In California, not turning in to the authorities a found object with a value greater than $100 is considered stealing.

      They stated, simply, that if it did belong to Apple, which was not a 100% certainty but was likely, that all Apple had to do was to ask for it back through proper channels.

      Because it only confirms that it belongs to Apple if Apple makes a public announcement, not asks for it back privately, right?

      Instead, we saw what happened. I would rather a judge have found for them and dismissed with prejudice, but at least it appears to be working out.

      I realize there's a presumption of innocence and they haven't been found guilty of anything, but come on, man. They publicly acknowledged purchasing property they knew was stolen, destroyed it, and when the owners asked for it back they wouldn't listen unless the owne

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Instead, we saw what happened.

      Yeah, they got their publicity. And Apple asked for it back. And Gizmodo gave it to them.

      And if you buy something off of the back of a truck from a guy who refuses to show his face, by law that's enough proof that you knew it was stolen. One would have to jump through an *awful* lot of mental gymnastics to think this guy who admitted to finding it in a bar was the rightful owner. Right there, ownership does not change hands until it is declared abandoned property by a proper

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      They openly acknowledged how they got it.

      By law, that makes them just as guilty as the original thief, slightly different charge with slightly lower punishment (assuming you don't withhold evidence, which they did by not telling where they got the phone from).

      They stated, simply, that if it did belong to Apple, which was not a 100% certainty but was likely, that all Apple had to do was to ask for it back through proper channels.

      They were certain enough to run a story claiming it was an apple iphone stolen from an employee at a bar, again, this alone is reason enough to nail them to the wall.

      When the cops showed up, and they didn't give it back, what exactly WAS the proper channel in your opinion?

      Gizmodo showed the w

    • Even though when asked, the owner of the bar said he had received two calls a day from the guy who lost it and none from the gizmodo people.

      There's a simple explanation for both of these seeming inconsistencies.

      The gizmodo editors are liars. They bought stolen property with no intention of returning it and then when the realized they could actually be convicted of a crime they just tried to lie their way out of it.

      Common criminals. Not worth your attention and not worth the "but we're journalists" crap.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @05:25PM (#37050052)

    There are certain areas of major Californian cities like LA and Oakland where real crimes happen on a daily basis. These places are rife with gangs who partake in drug trafficking, prostitution, violence, theft, vandalism, and just plain out thuggery. This activity is what the police forces and courts should be investigating and punishing.

    Aside from a relatively small number of trust fund babies, most real people don't give a fuck about Apple, or whatever their next device will be, or whenever this information is leaked prematurely.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      and you care so little, you'll go out of your way to make sure we all know how little you care.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      investigating real crimes poses real risks. doing so could involve injury or death. busting techies... is a substantially less risky endeavor. choices choices...

    • Yeah, nobody gives a fuck about one of the most valuable companies in the world.
      • by Kylon99 (2430624)

        That's right. Nobody gives a fuck if there's no harm to the company that can actually be proven in court. Who cares how much the company is worth? That's just a specious argument.

        We do care about one of the most valuable companies in the world using cash and lawsuits to censor information that causes no harm, however.

        • That's right. Nobody gives a fuck if there's no harm to the company that can actually be proven in court.

          Ok, for the sake of argument, let's leave aside the whole angle where they revealed confidential information about Apple's business, that can be used by competitors to unfair advantage. Let's assume there is no harm in that.

          They deprived Apple of some of its property for three weeks, during which they disassembled and broke it. How is that not harm?

          • by Kylon99 (2430624)

            The main point is what people actually care about, and not whether there was harm or not. If someone stole 10 cents from you, it is harm technically. Do people care? Probably not.

            Let's not leave aside the problem of revealing confidential information. Gizmodo could have harmed Apple's business interests and this is something that can be shown in court. I'm not saying Apple has given up on this; they should pursue if they can show it. But at the least, the San Mateo DA has given up, indicating he doesn

            • Actually, the DA most certainly does think there's a case - he just didn't want to get wrapped up in what would surely become a First Amendment battle.
        • by s73v3r (963317)

          Yeah, you can't show that there was no harm. However, it can be very readily proven that Gizmodo took part in the buying and selling of stolen property.

    • by s73v3r (963317)

      These places are rife with gangs who partake in drug trafficking, prostitution, violence, theft, vandalism, and just plain out thuggery.

      Theft? Like taking someone's phone from a bar? Thuggery? Like selling that same phone to a bunch of scumbags?

    • "There are more serious crimes than this one, so we should ignore this one altogether." Classic bullshit argument.

  • The police got what they wanted from Jason Chen and Gizmodo: their source. And now people know that, if they want to leak information to the press, they might want to go with a more reputable news outlet that knows how to secure their notes and would sooner go to jail than reveal their sources.
    • I suspect that the money changing hands for the phone was enough justification for the police to void any shield laws. Had Gizmodo paid to look and possibly dismantle the phone but not receiving possession, there may have been more grey legal areas.
  • that excitement quickly turned into indignation, and for some, anger.

    Hey, don't forget schadenfreude.

  • So, knowingly purchasing/receiving stolen product is now legal now? Fence you way to legal riches ($$$) in sunny San Mateo!!!!

  • I still don't visit their site if I can help it. Guilty or not, they're still scumbags. Everyone still remember that they released the

    • I like the part where you tell us what they
    • Same here. Ever since that and that "you can't call us bias" article by Joel is when I stopped and vowed to not return. Unfortunately I have the few times Lifehacker cross links a post but I quickly leave. Can't stand the layout either and there are better sites like Engadget and others out there.
  • But here's a tweet of mine on the subject from a few months ago:
    "I think Apple should FedEx Jason Chen the yet to be released iPhone 5 just to screw with him."

    https://twitter.com/#!/JustinFreid/status/78269879458865152 [twitter.com]

  • If I want information on circle jerking I'll go and download some gay porn on usenet.

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