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Macworld reports that Judge James Klienberg of the State of California Court of Appeal 6th Appellate District has issued a ruling in the Apple lawsuit over the Asteroid leak, agreeing with defense claims that the websites were protected by the First Amendment.

The suit was filed in December 2004 against "anonymous parties" after a leak about an unannounced FireWire breakout box, but it became clear that Apple had targeted PowerPage.org as well as AppleInsider.com and ThinkSecret.com.

Powerpage.org's Jason O'Grady defended his position last month. Earlier court decisions had gone against the websites, when it was ruled that the information Apple classified as a trade secret was not covered under journalistic protection. The case also brought up the question of whether or not authors of articles at these websites should be considered journalists.

In rendering his decision Judge James Klienberg said, "we can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish 'legitimate' from 'illegitimate' news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace."

Defense against the suit was provided by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which made today's ruling available as a PDF.
 

odedia

macrumors 65816
Nov 24, 2005
1,029
143
This is very good news. Apple have a tendency to go overboard sometimes. A firewire breakout box? Who gives a ####? It's clear that they sued because they wanted sites like this one to go down.
 
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HiRez

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2004
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Western US
I'm glad, it's too important a precedent to set when we're really only talking about protecting Steve Jobs personal penchant for surprise, where he strokes his own large ego on stage. Yes, it's fun to watch the keynote and hear "one more thing...", but as a consumer I'd rather know more about what's coming, to base my buying decisions with my hard-earned money on facts (well OK, "facts").
 
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ariza910

macrumors regular
Oct 19, 2002
192
1
So Cal
Apple is trying to protect its self as a company. They are a business and having someone leak a product before it's released hurts sales. Its doesnt matter what the product was, in this case it was a crappy FW breakout box (that still has not been released).

But what if it was something major that was leaked months in advance like the switch from PowerPC chips to INTEL. Having that information released early would have been a huge blow to Apple.

Theres a fine line between reporting news/rumors ect and stealing business trade secrets and I think in this case that line was crossed.
 
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shawnce

macrumors 65816
Jun 1, 2004
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odedia said:
This is very good news. Apple have a tendency to go overboard sometimes. A firewire breakout box? Who gives a ####? It's clear that they sued because they wanted sites like this one to go down.

Umm no... Apple really just wants to know who leaked the information so they can prosecute the ones that broke their contractual agreement.

Also it doesn't matter what you think about the importance of an unreleased product but what Apple - who has a legal right and obligation - thinks is still a trade secret.
 
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shawnce

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Jun 1, 2004
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HiRez said:
but as a consumer I'd rather know more about what's coming

...yeah so would Apple's competition... hence why the concept of trade secrets exist.
 
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iGary

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May 26, 2004
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Randy's House
Appple still managed to scare the living hell out of all its leaks though - ThinkSecret has not been even close to accurate for a half-year now.
 
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HiRez

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Jan 6, 2004
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shawnce said:
...yeah so would Apple's competition... hence why the concept of trade secrets exist.
Meh. I understand that, however in my opinion it should be up to Apple to protect their own secrets and stop leaks from their own employees. That's what we're talking about here. It's not like AppleInsider is breaking into Apple HQ at night and taking spy photos. It's not the reporters' fault that someone inside wants to talk.
 
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latergator116

macrumors 68000
Sep 30, 2003
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Providence, RI
odedia said:
This is very good news. Apple have a tendency to go overboard sometimes. A firewire breakout box? Who gives a ####? It's clear that they sued because they wanted sites like this one to go down.

I agree. I hate how Apple likes to sue everyone hese days.
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Apple is certainly noted for its secrecy. That drives interest in both Apple products and in rumor sites.

What worried many journalists (or "journalists", depending on your point of view), were O'Grady's claims that the information reached him without indication that it was considered a trade secret, that he pulled the information as soon as Apple requested that he do so, and that Apple nevertheless proceeded with the legal action. The flipside is that Apple may feel that leaks and those who spread them are a threat to their ability to stay ahead of competitors.

Evidence of unannounced products can interfere with sales of current products, when a current product might be thought to be on the way out or to be replaced, but that doesn't apply in this case.
 
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Dr.Gargoyle

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Oct 8, 2004
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Generally I would defend any ruling in favor of the First Amendment. However, this is not a leak from a public elected office, nor did someone leak about any illegal activities... Consequently, I am not so sure this was a good ruling. Patents are protected by the law. Shouldn't legal business secrets/strategies be protected too? :confused:
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Dr.Gargoyle said:
Shouldn't legal business secrets/strategies be protected too? :confused:
At first that sounds like a simple "yes", but what if an employee (who has rights to know the information, but is under a nondisclosure agreement) gives out secrets to an unaffiliated party? Are both parties automatically guilty. Or does it depend on factors such as whether the "trade secret" status was also disclosed (or should have been inferred) or who the receiving party passed the information to and in what way?
 
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jne381

macrumors regular
Feb 27, 2006
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Big picture?

I agree with the ruling, but Apple is missing the big picture. Even though leaks of what Apple might do may help competition, leaks and rumor pages help Apple in the long run. Places like Mac Rumors creates a community around he Apple brand. As a result they have an extremely loyal following that gets the most out of their machines, and spreads the praises of the brand.

It is ironic that Apple doesn't understand how the rumor sites help them, because it is parallels how the ability to copy music from a CD on to an iPod actually helps the record companies by getting more people back into listening to new music, yet the record companies will try to fight that as well.
 
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Phobophobia

macrumors 6502
Dec 1, 2003
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jne381 said:
Places like Mac Rumors creates a community around he Apple brand. As a result they have an extremely loyal following that gets the most out of their machines, and spreads the praises of the brand.
The rumor sites are a product of Apple's loyal following, not the other way around.
 
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Dr.Gargoyle

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Oct 8, 2004
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Doctor Q said:
At first that sounds like a simple "yes", but what if an employee (who has rights to know the information, but is under a nondisclosure agreement) gives out secrets to an unaffiliated party? Are both parties automatically guilty.
A NDA is a legal contract. Should we throw out contract law as a result? That is more or less the consequense of this ruling. If not, what makes this contract so special, that it should be considered void? The ability to form an agreement and put it down on a paper, contract, is vital for a society.
How would you feel if someone from the Pentagon informed e.g. Washington Post about the US strategy against Al Quida? Here too you have a NDA and an unaffiliated party. Why should the law protect one but not the other?
 
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ArizonaKid

macrumors regular
Jun 4, 2005
113
22
Arizona
Good, Apple Needed a Reality Pill

Happy to see free speech upheld.

Kinda seems like Apple, and the Bush administration with the NSA wiretap leaks, are going in the same direction attempting to protect any leaks from public discloser.

In Apple's case they can't really argue national defense...or could they?
 
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bluebomberman

macrumors 6502a
Jan 9, 2005
919
0
Queens, NYC
Dr.Gargoyle said:
Shouldn't legal business secrets/strategies be protected too? :confused:

Yes, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

Apple has every right to bring legal hell to the source(s) of the leak. (That's what non-disclosure agreements are for.)

However, they don't necessarily have the right to throw the book at those who report the leak to the masses.

Apple knows this, which is why they don't sue, say, The Wall Street Journal for reporting the switch to Intel days before WWDC 2005. So they tried to argue that the rumor sites are not real journalists; therefore, they can be compelled to disclose the source of the leak.

The appeals court shot that argument down. The rumor sites reported on news, so therefore they get journalistic protection. Doesn't matter if the site's just one dude typing from his/her dorm room or basement.

Where the aforementioned line stands today is a matter of debate. There aren't a whole lot of instances in contemporary American history in which journalists were compelled to reveal their sources. The Valerie Plame leak case was one such instance, but that had to do with national security.

Somehow, I don't think Apple's Asteriod fits the bill.

EDIT: I guess Apple also argued that their trade secrets are not "news." That was shot down, too, by the court.
 
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cornfedgrowth

macrumors member
Feb 17, 2004
65
0
Dr.Gargoyle said:
A NDA is a legal contract. Should we throw out contract law as a result? That is more or less the consequense of this ruling. If not, what makes this contract so special, that it should be considered void?

I think that you're missing the point of this lawsuit/ruling. It is not saying that NDAs should not be honored and those who break them not liable for thier actions. In this case, the person being sued is not the person under contract with apple. This case is about whether the "reporter" who recieves the information is responsible just as much as the person who broke thier NDA. I dont know the law in this area very well, but it seems to be a big grey area.
 
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inkswamp

macrumors 68030
Jan 26, 2003
2,784
881
:D :D :D WOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D

I love Apple's products, but they really pissed me off with this lawsuit which was wrongheaded from the start. This is a bad day for Apple, but a great day for basic freedoms. I'll support Apple as long as they continue making great products, but they can take a flying leap with this lawsuit. I'm thrilled that they lost. :p
 
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