Apple Wins Initial Ruling (Officially)

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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8,518
Last week there were early reports that a judge had allowed the subpoena of information from three Mac sites surrounding the leak of a rumored audio product (Asteroid) from Apple.

The official result was delayed until this week.

The final outcome is the same, however. News.com reports that the final ruling came in today. The judge sidestepped the issue of whether or not it was journalism and stated that the information was "stolen property, just as any physical item".

"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"
 

technocoy

macrumors 6502a
Sep 4, 2002
765
0
Raleigh, NC
sounds legal to me.

I don't know where my opinion falls on this yet. I think apple has a right to protect their secrets, and the rumor community HAS gotten more and more aggressive lately.
 

cubist

macrumors 68020
Jul 4, 2002
2,075
0
Muncie, Indiana
The judge is stupid. Stealing a car deprives the owner of its use. Stealing information does not.

Whoever disclosed the information may have broken a civil contract between himself and Apple. That contract does not bind third parties. If there is a trade secret law which binds third parties, that law violates the US constitution.
 

DJMad

macrumors newbie
Mar 17, 2004
27
0
Seattle
As someone who is minioring in journalism I am really appaled by this court ruling. Between this and the CIA leak investigation, has everyone forgotten the importance of being able to keep your sources secret. Well now it looks like we will only be publishing what the administration in Washington, and any influential corporation feels is acceptable. I am not sure if the Harvard student who runs think secreat is willing to sit in jail to make a point about free speach and journalism.
 

Panther

macrumors member
Apr 8, 2003
72
0
Austin, TX
Nick really should have known better. Saying that (paraphrasing) "the information came from your anonymous sources and you were just passing it on" doesn't save you in the eyes of the law.

Just ask Shawn Fanning of Napster. He may never have used his service to download music and break the law, but he made it easy for others to break the law. The comparison is clear.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
The California courts are quite dyslexic with regard to the UTSA (and it's CA version) and the internet in any case.

A big win like this, and they'll find out they have quite a bit of injunctive power over ThinkSecret -- right now, because he's still threatning to post more articles based on the sources.

But after that's cleared up, the court doesn't know what to do and runs into a bunch of circular arguments. Quite sad really, but simply due to lack of any language or mechanism to move forward written into the UTSA to do anything other than sue for damages.

Edit: This is NOT a ruling against ThinkSecret -- yet.
 

Sargiel

macrumors member
Jan 2, 2005
77
0
West Sussex, England
I'm certainly pleased with the ruling. There is a world of difference between discussing a rumour based on publicly available information - and knowingly releasing confidential and stolen information.

I hope Apples other outstanding legal issues are resolved as rationally as this has.
 

iGary

Guest
May 26, 2004
19,583
0
Randy's House
This is s stupid fight.

Unless Think Secret illegally (bribed employees or subcontractors, or somehow coerced information out of people by illegal means), this is nothing more than simple reporting, and is protected free speech. Apple has to prove damages in order to trump the free speech card.

This judge is way out of his league.
 

Stella

macrumors G3
Apr 21, 2003
8,273
4,636
Canada
Good, Apple have a right to protect themselves from Apple employees breaking their DNA and feeding rumour sites, and losing their competitive edge.

Excellent decision.

Free Speech... blah blah blah. Apple products aren't really in the public interest, compared to more import issues.
 

lalcan

macrumors regular
Sep 8, 2003
147
0
Left of the center
I think the judge has put it quite clearly in the PowerPage case:

"Apple's interests in protecting its trade secrets outweigh the public interest in the information"

Clear as day, and Apple wins first round, let's see how the case against ThinkSecret resolves.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
36,051
3,272
Los Angeles
I take issue with the judge's statement:
"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," Kleinberg wrote.
If the New York Times didn't routinely disclose hazards of some kind, would it also be "doing nothing more than feeding the public"?
 

fatfish

macrumors 6502
May 11, 2003
258
0
Poulton-le-Fylde, UK
DJMad said:
As someone who is minioring in journalism I am really appaled by this court ruling. Between this and the CIA leak investigation, has everyone forgotten the importance of being able to keep your sources secret. Well now it looks like we will only be publishing what the administration in Washington, and any influential corporation feels is acceptable. I am not sure if the Harvard student who runs think secreat is willing to sit in jail to make a point about free speach and journalism.
Being of a nation that has had to endure 9/11, I really find your notion that keeping ones sources secret is important, complete nonsense. I realise the crime that has been committed is not of the same severity, but does that matter.

If you know someone has or is about to commit a crime, you should be made to divulge any information you have.
 

1macker1

macrumors 65816
Oct 9, 2003
1,375
0
A Higher Level
I was hoping Apple lost their bid to get the names of the people who was giving infomation away. It's not Thinksecret's job to keep Apple's employees/ distributors inline.
 

dongmin

macrumors 68000
Jan 3, 2002
1,709
0
Doctor Q said:
I take issue with the judge's statement:If the New York Times didn't routinely disclose hazards of some kind, would it also be "doing nothing more than feeding the public"?
Presumably, the reports that NYT publish have some public value. And NYT is certainly not in the business of soliciting employees to break their NDAs and reveal trade secrets. What does knowing early about Apple's products have anything to do with public's interest? Apple is clearly harmed by having its trade secrets published. So given that the benefit to the public is marginal at best and it's much easier to demonstrate harm to the company, it seems clear to me who the law should protect.

I'm not sure about the specifics about this case, as there seems to be several different cases floating about, but TS (and any other rumor site) should not be encouraging/soliciting/bribing/manipulating employees to break their NDAs. That's being accesory to a crime, no?

And I disagree with those who distinguish between stolen cars and stolen information. If you put hard work into designing something or composing some piece of music, you should be entitled to its ownership. That's why we have copyright laws and patent laws. In as far as we allow for private property, information should be protected just like tangible goods.
 

BobVB

macrumors 6502a
Apr 12, 2002
778
78
doomed to repeat history I guess...

fatfish said:
Being of a nation that has had to endure 9/11, I really find your notion that keeping ones sources secret is important, complete nonsense. I realise the crime that has been committed is not of the same severity, but does that matter.

If you know someone has or is about to commit a crime, you should be made to divulge any information you have.
"Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither."
Benjamin Franklin
 

PixelFactory

macrumors regular
Jun 6, 2003
233
0
Chicago
cubist said:
The judge is stupid. Stealing a car deprives the owner of its use. Stealing information does not.
Stealing information can be just as devistating to company. Maybe Asteroid isn't an overly innovative product but the person who disclosed the information may have access to information of a completely new kind of product. If the information is released prematurely, competetors would have more time to create a rival product and may get it to market before Apple could. And who's to say that this person will not or hasn't sold trade secrets directly to a competetor. Apple is just protecting their intellectual property and must think this is a pretty big leak.
 

lalcan

macrumors regular
Sep 8, 2003
147
0
Left of the center
WRONG!

If ThinkSecret would publish your credit card information, you wouldn't be so concerned about he "keeping his sources secret" or his -nonexistant if you ask me- "journalist status".

Now tell me the difference between that kind of information and the other one.

A fraud is a fraud is a fraud.
 

cliffm

macrumors member
Dec 24, 2002
61
0
Orlando, FL
Didn't you guys even read the article?

This isn't just about posting some innocent information. The info on Asteroid was obtained from slides that that were marked Confidential.

From the Judge:

"The posting by Mr. O'Grady contained an exact copy of a detailed drawing of 'Asteroid' created by Apple," Kleinberg wrote. "The drawing was taken from a confidential set of slides clearly labeled 'Apple Need-to-Know Confidential.' In addition, technical specifications were copied verbatim from the confidential slide set and posted on the online site."
 

Candyfingered

macrumors member
Mar 10, 2005
46
0
Macrumors said:
Last week there were early reports that a judge had allowed the subpoena of information from three Mac sites surrounding the leak of a rumored audio product (Asteroid) from Apple.

The official result was delayed until this week.

The final outcome is the same, however. News.com reports that the final ruling came in today. The judge sidestepped the issue of whether or not it was journalism and stated that the information was "stolen property, just as any physical item".
Score one for Apple! :)
 

Candyfingered

macrumors member
Mar 10, 2005
46
0
Sargiel said:
I'm certainly pleased with the ruling. There is a world of difference between discussing a rumour based on publicly available information - and knowingly releasing confidential and stolen information.

I hope Apples other outstanding legal issues are resolved as rationally as this has.
I agree. All the doomsayers who claim this will hurt free speech are barking up the wrong tree and supporting criminal activity to boot.
 

Sun Baked

macrumors G5
May 19, 2002
14,874
57
It's only the first round.

I expect some interesting contradictions in the future, or the possibility that the case against one (or more) of the websites will be completely tossed in one of the coming rounds.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
36,051
3,272
Los Angeles
dongmin said:
Presumably, the reports that NYT publish have some public value. And NYT is certainly not in the business of soliciting employees to break their NDAs and reveal trade secrets. What does knowing early about Apple's products have anything to do with public's interest? Apple is clearly harmed by having its trade secrets published. So given that the benefit to the public is marginal at best and it's much easier to demonstrate harm to the company, it seems clear to me who the law should protect.
You are commenting on the whole case. My objection was to one specific statement, including the phrase "feeding the public's insatiable desire for information" that seems to me to be too broad and needlessly negative.
 

Candyfingered

macrumors member
Mar 10, 2005
46
0
Sun Baked said:
It's only the first round.

I expect some interesting contradictions in the future, or the possibility that the case against one (or more) of the websites will be completely tossed in one of the coming rounds.
You assume there will be coming rounds. TS hasn't said they'll appeal.
 

Maestro64

macrumors regular
Jan 5, 2005
208
0
Philadelphia
cliffm said:
Didn't you guys even read the article?

This isn't just about posting some innocent information. The info on Asteroid was obtained from slides that that were marked Confidential.

From the Judge:

"The posting by Mr. O'Grady contained an exact copy of a detailed drawing of 'Asteroid' created by Apple," Kleinberg wrote. "The drawing was taken from a confidential set of slides clearly labeled 'Apple Need-to-Know Confidential.' In addition, technical specifications were copied verbatim from the confidential slide set and posted on the online site."
Exactly, we all might have speculated how the information got out and whether the information was confidential or not. The fact the source of the information came from a slide presentation which happen to have Apple Confidential written all over it, say that whomever published it had to know what they were doing.

The fact the Judge also narrowly defined his ruling to the specifics of Apple claim will make it very hard to over turn.

Oh BTW, the argument of whether they are a real journalist of not, well think about this, most recognized media confirm their information from more then one source and they also call the person or company to let them know what they will publish and try and get a comment on it. Also, like what just happen with the iTune Phone, you all know Moto show the press and share information about it, and did you see anything form the mainstream press, no since they honored Moto wishes to hold off on the information since they are now not ready to share it.