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Apple set to face bloggers, journalists

updated 12:10 am EDT, Mon April 3, 2006

Apple goes to court again

Apple later this month will face another yet another day in court, as a California Court of Appeals has finally scheduled a hearing for an appeal on behalf of bloggers and online journalists who claim their sources should be protected from subpoenas. Represented by The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Ogrady et. al are set to face off against Apple on April 20th in a hearing to decide whether a lower court erred when it refused to protect PowerPage publisher Jason O'Grady's communications and unpublished materials, according to IT News. The EFF will argue that a lower court judge erred when it said that "trade secret" law trumped consitutional protections. The lower-court allowed refused to offer protections against a subpoena to the PowerPage's ISP Nfox -- issued in December of 2004 -- that sought to uncover materials O'Grady obtained for articles about "Asteroid," according to report.

Last year, the EFF won the right to unseal court documents related to Apple's efforts to subpoena the sources of online journalists. The unsealed documents showed that Apple moved to subpoena the reporters' sources before conducting a thorough investigation within the company.

Apple is currently in court fighting a lawsuit against The Beatles' recording company over the use of its logo.

by MacNN Staff





  1. e:leaf

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple needs

    to give this lawsuit up. The financial analysts do the exact same type of "reporting," yet I don't see any law suits there. The only difference is that there is real detriment to Apple shareholders when the analysts open their big traps, while nothing happens when the rumor sites "reveal" trade secrets.

    Well accept the foolhardy, rumor site believing segment of the Mac community gets let down.

  1. ScottEllsworth

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I cannot agree

    If trade secrets and NDAs are no longer legal protection, then companies will just not release information outside the company.

    That would be very bad for me, at least. I am a consultant, and companies trust me with their secrets and their proprietary data, because I have signed binding legal agreements with substantial penalties. At the root of those agreements is trade secret law. (And, of course, contract law.)

    They know that these agreements, plus littering the information they send my way with confidentiality stickers and warnings, makes it relatively hard for me to claim I did not know I was violating the agreements, and it makes it hard for anyone I forward the information to to pretend that they did not know the information was proprietary. That is not perfect protection, but it sure makes the risk high, and the reward low.

    The documents this is coming to a head over were littered with 'Apple Confidential' and other trade secret indicators, and any journalist who decides to publish obviously secret materials is taking a risk. When journalists in the same business have a masthead saying 'got dirt? Call anonymously', it could esaily be argued that they were soliciting trade secret information, and thus they were way out on a legal limb.

    I am all for first amendment protections. I have, in fact, given money to the EFF in most of the past five years. Here, I think, they are barking up the wrong tree.


  1. clickmyface



    Mass Media Law

    I am studying Journalism and took my first media law class last quarter. The protection given to our press and their sources are intended to protect whistle blowers, mainly.

    The initial ruling in this case did not, in any way, issue a blanket statement saying that Journalists have to give up their sources. The judge specifically ruled that IN THE EVENT that a journalist obtains known trade secrets of a company then they must provide their source for these, as these actions are illegal.

    There is a reason why companies like the New York Times do not EVER publish things like this. Because it is against the law to a highly logical degree.

  1. cshotton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple's Fault

    For Apple to prevail, they have to demonstrate that A) it was a trade secret that could not have been known by any other means other than Jason O'Grady's direct misappropriation of the information from Apple or one of its agents, and B) that they made their best effort to protect the information as a trade secret. If they fail on A), it wasn't a trade secret anymore. If they fail on B) it might have been a trade secret, but they can't claim it as such because they didn't secure it.

    Given past history, Apple has demonstrated a distinct inability to stop the rumors flying from its employees' mouths and if what Jason says is true, it came through the usual Apple rumor mill. I think a competent judge has to side with the blogger in this case because Apple simply screwed up.

  1. cartoonspin

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I think the point is for any journalist to post a trade secret, they have to name their source. They just can't say "from an unamed source" if it is a genuine trade secret.

    Apple didn't s**** up, one of their employees did and that is what Apple is going after. That one to-be-fired and prosecuted employee that signed the non-disclosure agreement and the outlet that published the legally protected trade secret.

    This case will have a major implication on what is reported in the rumor sites.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple's wrong here

    CShotoon is paritally correct. The EFF's allegation, however, is different. CShotton points out that Apple must show that it was harmed. Eff is claiming Apple did not use its own resources first, before trying to secure the information from the Blogger.

    When allowed, the media's right to protect sources is not absolute. Apple can only go to the media source after it exhausted all other means of finding the source, and only if it has been harmed (which is what CSHooton points out above).

    Eff is claiming Apple did not conduct an internal investgation to find the source of the leak. If true, Apple should not prevail because public policy dictates that media outlets sources should be protected. Here Apple could have found out who the leak was from other sources, but choose not to.

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