Think Secret files motion to have Apple lawsuit dismissed

In response to Apple Computer’s lawsuit against Mac news Web site Think Secret, the dePlume Organization LLC — the site’s owner — today filed a special motion in California Superior Court, Santa Clara County, requesting a dismissal of Apple’s suit under the California Anti-SLAPP Statute.

Court filings from Think Secret’s motion are available for download in PDF format here.

“Apple’s lawsuit is a affront to the First Amendment, and an attempt to use Apple’s economic power to intimidate small journalists,” Think Secret says in the court filings. “If a publication such as the New York Times had published such information, it would be called good journalism; Apple never would have considered a lawsuit.”

Declarations were submitted from prominent journalism experts Professor Thomas Goldstein and Dan Gillmor, demonstrating how Apple’s lawsuit violates the First Amendment.

Apple filed suit against the dePlume Organization LLC and Think Secret’s editor on January 4. Apple’s lawsuit is intended to shutter the news reporting efforts of a Web site that since 1998 has been the Internet’s top source for news scoops about Apple and the Mac.

(Note: Apple’s lawsuit against Think Secret is separate from its “John Doe” suit, where it did not sue any journalists, but instead sought information through subpoenas to three Mac news Web sites concerning a product code-named “Asteroid”; Think Secret has done no original reporting on Asteroid. In contrast, Apple’s suit against the dePlume Organization seeks damages from Think Secret, a news organization.)

Think Secret is represented by Terry Gross of Gross & Belsky LLP, a lawyer who has been at the center of Internet law since the early days of the net. His San Francisco-based general practice, public interest law firm engages in a range of distinctive work, including media, constitutional, and intellectual property law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as several other civil liberties organizations, was instrumental in helping Think Secret find legal representation.

More info at ThinkSecret here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
ThinkSecret’s Ciarelli gains pro bono legal help in defense of Apple lawsuit – January 19, 2005
ThinkSecret’s Nick Ciarelli says he can’t afford to defend himself against Apple lawsuit – January 15, 2005
Harvard Student and ThinkSecret owner Nick Ciarelli faces Apple’s legal wrath over product ‘leaks’ – January 13, 2005
Stop the presses! Apple sues ThinkSecret over ‘Headless Mac,’ ‘iWork,’ and other rumors – January 05, 2005


  1. Every defense lawyer in the world knows how to do two things; draft a motion to dismiss and draft a JNOV. Happens every day, in every civil case that makes it to court.

    This guy ain’t William Jennings Bryan, he’s just doing the job that Nick Ciarelli is (not) paying him to do.

  2. DePlume solicited/received information from Non Disclosure Agreement breakers. There is only one way DePlume could be innocent: If the NDA breakers are protected under whistle-blower status. Whistle-blower status allows employees to break their NDAs if the company is doing something illegal. People are allowed to publish information from Whistle-blowers. However, if Apple didn’t do anything illegal, then the ‘source’ was nothing more than a NDA breaking criminal. And in that case, DePlume is required by law to reveal the identity of his source. In the same way a stranger is required to report a criminal if he confesses to murdering someone.

    it al hinges back to the whistle-blower status – the Apple source clearly doesn’t have whistle-blower status, so DePlume is obliged to reveal his identity.

  3. With the crossover between what’s news–fact vs fiction–as “respectable” news outlets get pie in their faces for not checking their facts, just lying, or using blogs as news sources; and while “unconfirmed” news outlets such as blogs start gaining more respectability. It’s easy to see how some place like MacOSRumours would become the Enquirer of the Mac News World, and Think Secret the New York Post.

    In such an arena, those organizations would deserve the right to protect their sources. But without answering the question of “are they there yet,” we still have the issue that reporters and newspapers alike have been sued to reveal sources before. The “shield law”, especially in California, only protects against “contempt” sanctions (I could be wrong). It does not protect reporter or “news agency” from other legal sanctions. Thus the law does not apply when news organizations are party to a lawsuit and other sanctions are available.

    I’m so tired of the various statements about “the effects could be chilling”. The effects would be normal. The New York Times has been and will be in the future sued from people trying to get access to confidential sources. They’ve won, they’ve lost, and they’ve settled out of court-a lot. What this would do if Apple wins, is insure (for a time as brief as public memory) that anyone wanting to set-up a rumor site, take all the necessary legal steps of indemnification beforehand; and if Apple looses, will allow your average joe to continue with the belief that they are untouchable by glibly referring to First Amendment Rights with little understanding of what those rights afford us or their limits.

  4. Ya know what? I’ve been ready the “Mac Web” since 1996 and Think Secret since it first began. I don’t recall ever hearing Nick called a journalist or a blogger for that matter until the last few weeks. In fact, he is neither. Nor has anyone ever before called Think Secret a “News Organization” until the last few weeks.Think Secret is not a News Organization”, that’s just plain whooeey!

    Think Secret is and has always been one of many Apple rumor sites.Just because you have an IP address and dish out a few secrets, that does not make you a journalist or even a blogger.

    Nick is a very smart Harvard man. He’s using all of you, and the cover of blogger/journalist to save his own skin.It’s that simple. Remember, he’s being sued for damages as well as disclosure of his sources. He’s a very clever guy.

    Having said that, I don’t doubt that there are significant issues surrounding the changing nature of media and the courts will have to sort it out.But to say that posting text/dirt/gossip to a website makes one a journalist, entitled to constitutional protection is whooeey!

    Nick is in trouble becuase he disclosed “confidential trade secrets”, not because of his ideas or opinions.He did not disclose information vital to the “public interest”, he dished out trade secrets. He knew that sooner or later Apple was going to come after him.He deserves what he gets.

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