San Jose court to hear Apple ‘Asteriod’ case, weigh in on bloggers’ rights

“At PowerPage.org, a Pennsylvania blogger offers up a daily menu of passionate online dish about all things Apple Computer. It looks like just another run-of-the-mill site in the vast and exploding blogosphere — advertisements, links and an introduction that says ‘Publishing since 1995.’ But bloggers like Jason O’Grady, who owns PowerPage, want to establish more than credibility with Apple aficionados. They see themselves as journalists, worthy of the same legal protections as Woodward and Bernstein, the New York Times or any other traditional form of media,” Howard Mintz reports for The San Jose Mercury News. “The blogging world may soon find out whether the highest courts in California agree.”

“In a possible test of what, exactly, is a journalist in a proliferating universe of bloggers and Web masters, a San Jose appeals court on Thursday will consider whether sites like PowerPage are entitled to the same protections against divulging confidential sources as established media organizations,” Mintz reports. “The 6th District Court of Appeal will hear arguments in a case triggered by Apple, which two years ago went to court to unearth the identities of individuals who leaked confidential information on a new product called “Asteroid” to three Web pages that specialize in Apple-related news. The closely watched legal spat appears headed for the California Supreme Court. Cupertino-based Apple views the case as a direct assault on its right to protect trade secrets against theft and distribution. Among other things, the plans for ‘Asteroid,’ including an exact drawing of the device, were posted on PowerPage. Asteroid, which has not yet been released, is a digital music device designed to work with Apple’s GarageBand music software.”

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Apple wins initial ruling in ‘Asteroid’ case, can pursue publishers’ confidential sources – March 04, 2005
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Apple sues anonymous people over leak of unreleased Apple product info on Web – December 17, 2004
RUMOR: Apple preps analog to FireWire audio device for GarageBand users – November 23, 2004

27 Comments

  1. MDN Folks, Apple Computer has an iron-clad legal and fiduciary responsibility to its stockholders to protect all trade secrets, product rollouts, and the like. They have absolutely no choice in this matter but to aggressively pursue the “Asteroid” leak and others like it. Pouncing on Jason may seem unusually harsh to anyone not in the high-stakes business community, but it beats the heck out of being sued by one’s own investors for lack of due diligence!

  2. “I love Apple as much as the rest of you, but they are sure quick…” BLA-BLA-BLA….

    Enough of this crap! Are you all going to cry for the PowerPage fellow?

    When will all the whining stop?

    What Apple is dealing with equals stalking of celebrities. When was the last time someone tried to uncover secrets about DELL and company?

    So, some sick maniacs out there in their desperate quest of fame among fellow Macheads have decided to cross the line and give out all this detail.

    I say: go get them Apple!

    Don’t let idiots define the rules of the game!

    MDN little: I could care little about the PowerPage looser

  3. Apple, Microsoft, and everyone else has the absolute right to protect their trade secrets, and to prosecute anyone who willfully violates confidentially agreements. This isn’t a consitutional issue of free speech, it’s a civil issue of contractual responsibility.

  4. Apple, Microsoft, and everyone else has the absolute right to protect their trade secrets, and to prosecute anyone who willfully violates confidentially agreements. This isn’t a consitutional issue of free speech, it’s a civil issue of contractual responsibility.

    Unfortunately for this point of view, PowerPage and the other defendants have no contract with Apple. What you seem to be saying is that the existence of a contract between Apple and someone else imposes obligations on EVERYONE, including those putatively of the press, to keep the information confidential.

    Bovine excrement.

    Apple doesn’t have a leg to stand on here, IMNTBHO. Trying to define “the press” is like trying to define “a religion.” It’s a very difficult proposition, and changes over time.

  5. ChooseApple-

    Your comments only show that you either didn’t read the article or that you have no comprehension of the issue in question. The PowerPage guy has no agreement with Apple computers and is not bound by law to withhold information from the public that is given to him. That is a freedom of speech issue.

    The problems Apple is facing is not online rumor sites. The problems they are facing are leaks from the inside of the company. You may be of the opinion that the PowerPage guy should have to give up his source so that Apple can plug the leaks, but I am confident that bloggers everywhere would whole-heartedly disagree with that opinion. Emmayche is correct when he says that defining the press is a difficult thing to do.

    All Apple does by suing people who are not directly in charge of information flow from the company is make themselves look bad.

  6. emachye:

    Jason O’Grady did not receive his information by telepathy. He was a partner in the distribution of confidential information. The fact he himself did not sign a letter of confidentiality is immaterial. Apple has every right to require him to disclose how he recieved this information.

    Consider this, I recieve “stolen” property that was taken from you. Would you want me to reveal to the local constabulary who actually stole your property? I though so.

  7. maczealot –

    We aren’t dealing with “stolen property” here. We’re dealing with information, and there’s a big difference. If I steal your stereo, you no longer have a stereo. If I learn a bit of info about you, then we both have that info about you. You aren’t “out” anything, and I have no obligation to magically forget it or keep it secret on your behalf.

    Trying to kludge a physical property metaphor onto a free-speech debate is like trying to bolt wheels to a fish. It’s this type of thinking that has made a mess of everything from the first amendment to patent and trademark law.

  8. moog the moron:

    If someone steals your access codes to all your financial accounts, would you be worried?

    I you had someone take some proprietary data that could be worth millions of dollars, would you care?

    If you had a secret and someone told it, would you mind?

  9. It is very likely that someone signed a non-disclosure agreement and then broke their word. Undoubtably, the nondisclosure agreement clearly stipulated the specific penalty/ies for revealing certain information. Therefore, the person who willingly and intentionally signed the non-disclosure agreement, and also releases the information, accepts full responsibility for his/her action and all the penalties described in the agreement. That is, whatever rights they may have had to “speak” freely they knowingly relinquished upon signing the agreement. For this person to attempt to avoid punishment indicates that they are both irresponsible and stupid. Irresponsibility and stupidity are not protected by the constitution.

    If you think that “free speech” means not having to be resposible for what you say perhaps you never heard of perjury, libel, or slander; or understand what is meant by being truthful or honest. You see, material things as well as words have real value.

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