Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Apple Ordered to Pay Legal Fees For Bloggers- CZensorship

In an important case establishing the legitimacy of blogs and protecting bloggers from being forced to disclose sources, Apple Inc. was ordered to reimburse $700,000 defendants for their legal fees. A California court made it clear to Apple that if the company wanted to find out who leaked details of an in-house development product to bloggers, they'd actually have to do it legally.

The drama begins in 2004, when Mac fan sites AppleInsider and PowerPage reported the technological details about a product codenamed "Asteroid."

Apple sought the identity of the sources who leaked the information by filing suit against the bloggers, and subpoenaed their email records from email service provider Nfox.com. The company claimed that the reports violated California's trade secret laws.

A Santa Clara County court ordered Apple to pay the legal fees of their opponent this month, a development considered "a large moral victory for bloggers," according to Macnn.com.

The case brought up several important questions related to the status of the blogosphere: Do bloggers qualify as journalists? Can blogs be considered news sites? Does a private company have the right to suspend the protection of journalistic sources guaranteed by the First Amendment?

Though the court didn't actually qualify the bloggers as journalists, it was assumed that they were journalists for purposes of opinion, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, who headed up the defense.

Though Apple claimed it had a right to protect its trade secrets, the EFF responded that the case wasn't about business rights, but about the means by which Apple can seek evidence. Subpoenaing journalist sources is not an acceptable means of discovery.

We have been following Steve Jobs and Apple since the mid 1980s. We can state unequivocally that the parallels between how Jobs has established a culture of secrecy is only rivaled by the Varo/Mezger boards.

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