Judge uses Wikipedia as source to blast Apple in ‘Asteroid’ case

“Californian appeals court Judge Conrad Rushing has put the public interest above private corporate interest in a verdict that deals a blow to Apple Computer. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the New Age judge, in making the correct decision using such bizarre supporting evidence, he’s handed Apple enough ammunition to overturn the decision, should it wish to pursue the case,” Andrew Orlowski writes for The Register. “Apple has struck gold in finding a techno utopian in a state of rapture. Judge Rushing cites Wikipedia as a source, a mistake which earns students an ‘F’ grade today. He talks about the need to disregard economics and sociology in favor of a ‘memetic marketplace’ – whatever that is – and allows himself some flights of technological rapture.”

“While it may be tempting to think of Asteroid as a mere gizmo for nerds,” [Judge Rushing] writes, “such a device may also be the means by which the next Bob Dylan, Julia Ward Howe, or Chuck D conveys his or her message to the larger world. Music is of course a form of speech, from the stirring hymns of Charles Wesley to the soaring meditations of John Coltrane. Who knows what latter day Woody Guthries may be lifted from obscurity by this new technology, in defiance of the considered judgment of recording executives that once might have condemned them to obscurity?”

“The Supremes will have fun with Conrad, if Apple wishes to pursue the case,” Orlowski writes.

Full article here.

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Related articles:
Apple loses ‘Asteroid’ appeal in California’s 6th District Court – May 26, 2006
Apple questioned in ‘Asteroid’ trade secrets case – April 20, 2006
San Jose court to hear Apple ‘Asteriod’ case, weigh in on bloggers’ rights – April 17, 2006
Apple wins initial ruling in ‘Asteroid’ case, can pursue publishers’ confidential sources – March 04, 2005
Apple suspends legal action against three journalists – February 17, 2005
Stop the presses! Apple sues ThinkSecret over ‘Headless Mac,’ ‘iWork,’ and other rumors – January 05, 2005
Apple Computer sues three for posting Mac OS X ‘Tiger’ on Web – December 21, 2004
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


  1. The notion that a business could shut down web bloggers smacks of totalitarian behavior. If they, or the government, have leaks, they need to plug them themselves. Going out into the public with lawyer billy clubs is unacceptable.

  2. memetic – adjective – Biology: an element of a culture or system of behavior that may be considered to be passed from one individual to another by nongenetic means, esp. imitation.

  3. mugwump:
    The notion that a business could shut down web bloggers…

    I must have missed the part where Apple tried to shut anyone down. I thought they were trying to force the bloggers to reveal their source(s) for the illegally given product design info. Whether you think it’s a free speech issue or not, at least base your argument on what really happened.

  4. Mug-dump:

    What does it meme? Is it a dream, a theme, a genetic stream from the first team, an extreme meteor stream color scheme? A constitutional right to meme it seems. Right on, brother judge. The meme is the means, man, can you feel it? Apple walked in the meme field and got blown to pieces, man. Yeah, Apple, was messing with the memes – you can’t do it man, like, it ain’t cool, like playing with a laser beam. The musical meme is supreme, man. Give me another hit, bro.

    Californian judge, who woulda guessed?

  5. “If they, or the government, have leaks, they need to plug them themselves.”

    Brilliant! How do you recommend the leaks be plugged? Come on now, don’t be shy. How do you intend to prevent people from breaking promises; telling lies; and being scurrilous, deceitful, malicious, and malevolent? Ripping their tongues out and smashing their fingers into pulp? Death by hanging, scourging, stoning, or electrocution? Burying the bodies in the corporate garden of eternal shame? Please, dear muggy, tell us what we must do. We’re waiting!

  6. I can see the need and value of protecting sources when a reporter writes about a crime or misuse of the public trust…. whistle-blowers, etc. But I don’t think the laws protecting the secrecy of these sources was written with idea of shielding deceitful employees of a legal enterprise as they divulge company competitive secrets. Secrets that they have contractually agreed to not disclose. The idea of freedom of speech is not served well by this decision.

  7. I totally agree with the article. Apple can solve its own business problems, such as identifying and firing disloyal employees, on its own dime. The government should neither interfere nor help Apple in that pursuit. If it can not find its own disloyal employees, that is no concern for the law or courts. It is Apple’s internal problem, not the public’s. BTW, I agree that if Apple identifies the perpetrators, it should fire them. Capitalism is a necessary component of freedom, but we must always resist the abuse by corporations to demand that government become any company’s pimp or thug.

    The totalitarian judge made the right choice for the wrong reasons. The citizen side of me wants the appeal to succeed on the basis of the judge’s flawed reasoning and then for the courts to come up with freedom of speech as the basis of defeating Apple’s outrageous demand to pervert the law into becoming Apple’s thug. The AAPL side of me wishes Apple to drop their pettifogging behavior, which can only harm its image with the public.

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