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Apple helps mediate iPod story lawsuit

updated 08:40 am EDT, Wed August 30, 2006

iPod story lawsuit

Apple is working to resolve a dispute between its iPod manufacturing partner Foxconn and two local Chinese journalists who have been sued for running a story on alleged labor abuses. Foxconn earlier this week successfully petitioned a Court to freeze the personal assets of a reporter and editor at China Business News as part of its lawsuit against the reporters for damages caused by the allegedly false report. The Taiwanese-owned Foxconn filed a defamation lawsuit against two journalists working for the state-run newspaper CBN who ran stories alleging that workers on iPod assembly lines worked under harsh conditions for low pay, although a similar report was published by a UK-based publication several days earlier. The move prompted a journalists' advocacy group to post an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs, asking for his help to mediate the dispute.

Apple yesterday confirmed that it is working to resolve the dispute, but gave no additional details: "Apple is working behind the scenes to help resolve this issue," an Apple spokesman Jill Tan told the The Age.

Reporters Without Borders, a group dedicated to protecting the freedom of the press around the world, yesterday posted an open letter to Jobs, asking him to intercede with its subcontractor in China, Foxconn, and get it to drop its lawsuit.

"We believe than all Wang and Weng did was report the facts and we condemn Foxconn's reaction," Robert Ménard, the Secretary-General, wrote in the letter. "We therefore ask you to intercede on behalf of these two journalists so that their assets are unfrozen and the lawsuit is dropped."

While Foxconn denied virtually all of the allegations of labor abuse, both Apple and Foxconn are working to address several violations of Apple's Code of Conduct for suppliers, following an internal Apple investigation into the matter.

Apple also said it would audit all of its other iPod and Mac manufacturing facilities by the end of the year.

[Worker image via Mail on Sunday]

by MacNN Staff




  1. Interlard

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Well done, Apple.

    I am delighted to see that Apple is taking the moderating, higher ground over this.

    I like the products, but not enough to abuse my fellow human beings. Both factory workers and journalists alike.

    I think we'll all be watching the news closely to see that justice prevails. Please MacNN: Stay on top of this one! :-)

  1. porieux

    Joined: Dec 1969


    s**** china

    Apple needs to stay the h*** out of China, that place is bad news.

  1. Terrin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Too Much Too Hope For

    Apple would stay out of China if all you freedom loving amercians would actually stand up for something and refuse to buy products made from that country. That is just too much to hope for when all people care about is saving a few dollars.

  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I would wholeheartedly agree regarding China being bad news. The rest of the industry will learn this harsh lesson in the next 6-10 years.

    Let's hope that Apple will eventually find a new manufacturing partner / country (hint: Vietnam) and abandon China.

  1. jimmy8942

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Today, it seems like all Apple (AAPL) news, all the time. Here’s another item. The group Reporters Without Borders has written an open letter to Steve Jobs asking Apple to intercede with iPod manufacturer Foxconn and ask them to drop a lawsuit against two Chinese journalists for the daily China Business News over their coverage of the working environment at Foxconn manufacturing facilities. The group’s web site says that in a 15 June story, the two repoters “criticised the conditions of workers at a Foxconn plant that assembles iPod music players at Longhua, near the southern city of Shenzen. After getting a court to freeze their assets, Foxconn brought a libel suit against them, demanding 20 million yuan (2 million euros) in damages from Wang and 10 million yuan (1 million euros) from Weng.”

    Here’s what the letter says:

    Open letter to Steve Jobs, Apple Computer CEO

    Dear Mr. Jobs,

    Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom throughout the world, urges you to intercede with your subcontractor in China, the Taiwanese company Foxconn, and get it to drop its lawsuit against reporter Wang You and editor Weng Bao of China Business News (Diyi Jingji Ribao).

    These two journalists were responsible for an article on June 15 criticising work conditions at a Foxconn plant. At Foxconn’s request, the Shenzen intermediate people’s court froze their assets - apartments, bank accounts and cars - on July 10. Foxconn then brought a lawsuit accusing them of “smearing its reputation” and demanding 30 million yuan (3 millions euros) in damages.

    We know that Apple is already aware of this case. After the London-based Daily Mail newspaper ran a story about it on June 11, your company reacted by investigating conditions at Foxconn’s plants and discovered that your supplier had indeed violated several aspects of your code of conduct, including those concerning the length of the working week and days off.

    We believe than all Wang and Weng did was report the facts and we condemn Foxconn’s reaction. We therefore ask you to intercede on behalf of these two journalists so that their assets are unfrozen and the lawsuit is dropped.

    We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.


    Robert Ménard


    Reporters Without Borders

  1. jimmy8942

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Foxconn backs down on iPo

    Foxconn has drastically reduced the amount of damages to only one yuan and applied to unfreeze the journalists' assets.

  1. Monstermind

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Fudge China

    We've seen the last of those reporters. They'll be fertilizer before year's end, and all parties involved know it.

    Here's a solution: get a U.S. (ahem) "photojournalist" to snap pictures of them in prison, and then Photoshop out the bars. They'll escape easily. There's nothing that program can't do; just ask Reuters and that bim Katie Couric...

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