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View Diary: Apple Computer Goes after Blogs (34 comments)

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  •  the big question (none)
    is whether or not a crime has been committed by either the apple employees or the bloggers. having debated this same topic in a different thread, i have concluded that we're missing some key information:

    1. what exactly did the bloggers publish on their blogs. if was merely the name, description and release date of the product, i view this as a bullshit charge, for which a product reviewer for a magazine or newspaper would NEVER be charged.

    2. what is the background on the judge? does she have a history of ruling in favor of businesses? this is especially significant given that apple is based in calif. and employs thousands.

    as for journalist priviledge, i disagree and so do many states, including calif. where there are shield laws to protect journalists. journalists aren't just regular folks. they're reporting on and acting as government and business watchdogs, and i'll bet you anything that part of the reason apple is going after the blogs is because they are doing too good of a job of watching them.

    i maintain that unless they published actual "blueprints" then these bloggers are innocent and should be accorded the same protection as other journalists in calif. are. that so many people here are running to the defense of apple, really sort of surprises me. while not as big as microsoft, like any other huge corp. apple practices its share of shark-like business tactics.

    The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. --Yeats

    by JaneKnowles on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 02:56:18 PM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  Well... (none)
      If the "watchdog" idea is the justification for the journalist's privilege, the privilege should be limited to situations when legitimately vital public information is disclosed.  Is information about the new products of Apple (or Microsoft, or Coca-Cola, or whomever) really vitally important to the functioning of our society?  Are we so enslaved to the cult of consumerism that we now think information about the release date or cool functionality of new consumer products is vital to life in America?  I hope not.

      Compare this case to the requirements for a government employee to claim "whistleblower" status.  There is a federal Whistleblower Protection Act.  Under that law, and related laws, a federal employee disclosing information to the authorities can claim protection only if s/he reasonably believes that the information discloses: violation of the law, gross mismanagement, gross expenditure of funds, abuse of authority, and/or threats to public health or safety.

      As far as I know, the Apple product information disclosed on that blog would fall into none of those categories.

      Also, the whole journalist-or-blogger controversy over this case illustrates the fallacy of the journalist's privilege.  If someone is disseminating information to the public and providing a vital whistleblower-type service (not saying that is or isn't true in this case), does it really matter whether or not they have some credential as a journalist?  No, it doesn't matter.

      It might be moot to this particular case, anyway.  My reading of the judge's decision is that the decision is not really based on whether a blogger can claim a journalist's privilege, it's more based on whether anyone, journalist or otherwise, should have the right to conceal his/her sources in a commercial situation such as this.

      •  what is vital (none)
        depends on the reader. i do a lot of research for a small stock brokerage company and i can tell you from reading analyst reports that wall street gets access to this kind of info all the time because they have meetings/phone conversations all the time with the corporate execs of the companies they cover.

        apple, and other companies like it, give wall street "insider info" as part of a you-scratch-my-back-i'll-scratch-yours type of agreement. in other words, i'll give you juicy info on the workings of our company as long as you don't go crazy with how you rate our company. which is why you very rarely see a company ever downgraded to "sell."

        so absolutely, in that sense, there are lots and lots of average joe stockholders who are interested in and follow this kind of information. in fact, at least one of the sites mentioned in this article gets over 250,000 hits per month, which means it has a higher readership than the apple-centric magazine, macworld.

        and again, based on the limited info i have, i believe that the judge is looking to protect apple from the masses, and the only way s/he can do that is by taking about the bloggers' status as a journalist. if the bloggers had this status, like, say, a writer for macworld does, then because of california's shield lawas, apple wouldn't have a leg to stand on (again, presuming that the blog didn't publish detailed information about the product).

        personally, i hope the bloggers have the money to appeal the decision. i think they are in the right. but that's just me, i tend to take the side of the little guy.

        The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. --Yeats

        by JaneKnowles on Mon Mar 07, 2005 at 04:00:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The law says what it says (none)
          You posted earlier that the California shield law...

          protects a "publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed unpon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service" and a "radio or television news reporter or other person connected with or employed by a radio or television station."

          If that's the law, then the judge is right, it doesn't include bloggers.  The judge is just applying the law as written, which is his job.  He does not and should not ignore the law and rule any way he feels like ruling.  If you want the law extended to bloggers (or repealed, or whatever), you have to ask the legislature to change the law.

          And, if "what is vital depends on the reader", well, it's true that every reader decides what's important to him or herself, but the law has to apply a consistent, objective standard in order to be fair.  A consistent and objective standard would be something like the whistleblower standard I mentioned above.

          If all it takes is one reader thinking something is vital before a journalist can frustrate a criminal investigation by refusing to disclose sources, and if we expand the definition of "journalist" so that anyone can qualify, then everyone who doesn't want to disclose who knows what to the police is going to claim to be a journalist (or a blogger, or whatever), and claim some holy right to hide the truth.  IMO, that would be very bad public policy.

          •  the internet has changed everything (none)
            i spoke to a lawyer friend of mine whose focus is intellectual property a couple of days ago and he said that the interenet is creating a lot of debates. in his mind, and mine, these blogs are clearly periodic publications--more periodic than some magazines. he just thinks it's going to take a while for the courts to catch up (and in the meantime, expect big corps to exploit the lag time).

            and listen, as for these blogs, they're publishing the SAME type of content as macworld magazine does in their magazine and on their website. there's no reason the blogs' web content shouldn't be protected in the same way macworld's is.

            apple is just trying to scare their employees and whoever else they can scare by taking advantage of the fact that the shield law doesn't exactly include blogs, and given how they paint themselves as being so down with the counterculture, they should be ashamed of themselves.

            as to your last example, in the case of a criminal investigation (which again, this MIGHT just be, but if and only if the bloggers published detailed info about the construction of the item in question--which i doubt), no one, including journalists is protected by shield laws so your point is moot.

            First NYC Kossack Meet-up: March 30 @ 7pm. Email me for details!

            by JaneKnowles on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 05:41:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  NOT the courts. (none)
              he just thinks it's going to take a while for the courts to catch up

              The legislature, not the courts.  The way that law is written, it doesn't cover bloggers, it's specifically limited to "traditional", mainstream media.

              If you want it to apply to bloggers (and it probably should in fairness, if such laws continue to exist), then the legislature in Sacramento has to change the wording of the law.

              •  you see ba-nah-nah (none)
                i see ba-nay-na. i look at that law and see bloggers covered. traditional is what? right now, what macworld publishes on their website is protected (or not--shield laws vary in the 31 states that have them so it would depend on who sued them). so how is a magazine's website somehow more traditional than a blogger's blog?

                like i said, i hope the bloggers have the money to appeal this. if the lazy corp. fucks won't do their job and report the news, then more power to the blogs, who are actually still willing to take on big biz and the govt by putting their noses to the grindstone.

                First NYC Kossack Meet-up: March 30 @ 7pm. Email me for details!

                by JaneKnowles on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 12:58:55 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not the medium (none)
                  i.e., not websites vs. print or TV, but the limitation is to the press, periodical publications, wire services, radio and TV stations, etc.

                  If John Doe writes a letter (or e-mail) to a few friends and therein discloses trade secrets of Apple given to him by a disgruntled Apple employee, he can't fairly characterize his letter or e-mail as a "periodical publication".  If he could, then any communication (other than perhaps talking to someone face-to-face), even a mobile phone call, might be a "publication" or a "broadcast".

                  The California shield law has been held to cover a newspaper's own website, by the way.  

                  •  i view a blog (none)
                    as a periodical publication. you and the judge don't. and again, i do not view publishing the release date of a product (which magazines like macworld and analysts do ALL THE TIME--and speaking of which, i'm about to publish similar unreleased information about some publically-held companies in an analyst report for my company, which of course neither you nor that company's stockholders will ever see) as disclosing a trade secret. but hey man, feel free to defend the fat cats to your heart's content. given that you're clearly a fan of dkos--alternative journalism at its best, it's an odd position to take, but hey, it takes all types.

                    First NYC Kossack Meet-up: March 30 @ 7pm. Email me for details!

                    by JaneKnowles on Tue Mar 08, 2005 at 02:36:36 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Haha (none)
                      I'm not defending anyone's fat cat.  I am sympathetic to the intellectual property concerns, but I am just as sympathetic to the concerns of someone who invents cool new software on her own, or someone who invents intermittent wiper blades in his own garage by tinkering with his own car (which did happen), and I don't want their trade secrets, or their ability to market and protect their inventions, harmed either.

                      Hell, the wiper blade inventor was dogged for years by automobile companies who tried to steal his inventions anyway they could.  He probably never did get all of the money and invention rights he was due.    

                      First, whether the Apple information is ultimately determined to be a trade secret is completely separate from the issue of whether the source of that information has to be disclosed.  We don't know enough from the news reports to determine whether sufficient information was disclosed to breach any trade secrets.

                      Second, whether a blog is a "periodical publication" in my mind or in your mind is separate from whether it is one under the law, and it's the judge's job to use the legal definition.  As I mentioned, the legislature is free to amend the statute, the judge is not.

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