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Steve Jobs Defied Convention, and Perhaps the Law 311

Posted by timothy
from the howso-perhaps? dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "James B. Stewart writes in the NYT that recent revelations that Steve Jobs was the driving force in a conspiracy to prevent competitors from poaching employees raises the question: If Steve Jobs were alive today, should he be in jail? Jobs 'was a walking antitrust violation. I'm simply astounded by the risks he seemed willing to take,' says Herbert Hovenkamp, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law and an expert in antitrust law. 'Didn't he have lawyers advising him? You see this kind of behavior sometimes in small, private or family-run companies, but almost never in large public companies like Apple.' In 2007, Jobs threatened Palm with patent litigation unless Palm agreed not to recruit Apple employees, even though Palm's then-chief executive, Edward Colligan, told him that such a plan was 'likely illegal.' That same year, Jobs wrote Eric E. Schmidt, the chief executive of Google at the time, 'I would be extremely pleased if Google would stop doing this,' referring to its efforts to recruit an Apple engineer. When Jobs learned that the Google recruiter who contacted the Apple employee would be 'fired within the hour,' he responded with a smiley face. 'How could anyone have approved that?' says Hovenkamp. 'Any competent antitrust counsel would know that's illegal. And they had to know they'd get caught eventually.'" (Read more, below.)
Pickens continues: "But the anti-poaching pact was hardly Jobs's only brush with the law. Jobs behavior was at the center of an e-book price-fixing conspiracy with major publishers where a federal judge ruled that "Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy." (Apple has appealed the decision. The publishers all settled the case.) Jobs also figured prominently in the options backdating scandal that rocked Silicon Valley eight years ago. An investigation by Apple's lawyers cleared Jobs of wrongdoing, saying he didn't understand the accounting implications but five executives of other companies went to prison for backdating options, while Jobs was never charged.

There's no way of knowing whether Jobs, had he lived and been healthy, would have faced charges, especially since he was a recidivist. Given Jobs's immense popularity, prosecutors might not have wanted to risk a trial, says Hovenkamp. Jobs probably came closest to being prosecuted in the backdating scandal, but by then he was already known to have pancreatic cancer. Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson notes that 'over and over, people referred to his reality distortion field.' Isaacson added, 'The rules just didn't apply to him, whether he was getting a license plate that let him use handicapped parking or building products that people said weren't possible. Most of the time he was right, and he got away with it.'"
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Steve Jobs Defied Convention, and Perhaps the Law

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2014 @09:30AM (#46907781)
    Not only did Jobs engage in dirty deals as a businessman, but back in the 1970s he was a very active phone phreaker as well.
  • Simple (Score:4, Informative)

    by rainer_d (115765) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @09:37AM (#46907809) Homepage
    He was going to die. And he knew it. So he was able to take risks that no one else was going to take.
    Because he knew: whatever he did (short of doing an OJ-Simpson style stupidity), he would only be judged by his achievements, the products he created.
    Nobody remembers Charlie Chaplin for his three teenager-wifes and pre-marriage pregnancies - even though it was a major scandal even back then.
    What lives on are his works.
  • Re:Simple (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2014 @09:46AM (#46907853)

    Not exactly. He was well known for believing that some rules didn't apply to him, e.g. not putting a license plate on his car and parking in handicap spots. He just got to be rich and powerful enough that some rules pretty much didn't apply to him.

  • Re:Simple (Score:5, Informative)

    by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @10:15AM (#46907987)

    He was going to die. And he knew it. So he was able to take risks that no one else was going to take.

    That's not what happened. His cancer was likely easily treatable and curable when it was discovered. But Jobs refused "conventional treatment" and went for a "holistic approach". By the time he went back to regular doctors, many months later, it was too late. And instead of the heroic dying hero you try to make him out as, there is fairly little he accomplished after that.

    Jobs did "think different" and it killed him.

  • by paiute (550198) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @11:42AM (#46908445)

    If there is a law you don't think is being enforced properly, you have the right to take it to court.

    And if you don't have standing, you will be tossed right out.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03, 2014 @08:53PM (#46910877)

    This comes from a VERY old study at RAND or System Development Corp. They took a group of programmers of various backgrounds and put them to doing some varied coding tasks, not all of which aligned with the experience and background of some of the programmers. Sure enough, there was a 10:1 variation in the group, which was really the purpose of the study: to show that there isn't some sort of "generic programmer" that you can put on an assembly line and have them grind out code.

    Sackman, H., W.J. Erikson, and E. E. Grant. 1968. "Exploratory Experimental Studies Comparing Online and Offline Programming Performance." Communications of the ACM 11, no. 1 (January): 3-11.
    http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=362858
    It has some methodological flaws and there's a lot of literature on the topic.

    Norm Augustine claimed that there is significant difference in productivity in all fields. Running backs score more than 10x as many touchdowns as centers.

  • by catmistake (814204) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @09:59PM (#46911113) Journal

    I know the constitution inside and out.

    You obviously don't. And I'm going to show you and everyone else that this is so.

    The constitution is just that, a piece of paper.

    It is a point of contention whether initial drafts of the Constititution were written on hemp paper, but we know for a fact, and you are even welcome to go see for yourself with your own eyes, that the Constitution itself was written on parchment [wikipedia.org], which is no more like paper than your own skin.

    Further, epistemically, existentially and philosophically speaking, the actual Constitution is not written on anything , as it is an abstract type that is without form or mass, i.e. an idea and concept, and what is referred to as the actual Constitution, and all copies of it, are mere tokens of that type. [wikipedia.org]

    All laws are just that, pieces of fucking paper.

    Laws are not the paper they are printed on, nor are they the ink with which they are printed, but abstract concepts that are either universal principles describing the fundamental nature of something or, in this case, statutes passed by a legislative body.

    It ought to be important to you that you understand that you are absolutely incorrect with your hyperbole in nearly every way imaginable. Paper is just fucking paper, and only with the flavorful word "fucking" did you even remotely get close to something that was correct. The word law itself etymologically comes from the Old Norse, lag , which literally means something laid down or fixed, and is of Germanic origin and related to lay . Interestingly, law is also a Scots language word for a conical hill which rises incongruously from the surrounding landscape. Laws are far more conceptually and far less materially than mere paper and —in Truth— are neither at all either paper nor ink.

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