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
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33 Comments

  1. Linux Guy:

    “I totally agree with the article. Apple can solve its own business problems, such as identifying and firing disloyal employees, on its own dime.”

    Describe in detail how Apple should go about identifying these mysterious liars and back stabbers. Just like the Rushing and mugwump you provide no real solution to the problem of how to deal with people who violate their confidentiality agreements.

    You take the grandiose opinion of the court that the state has no obligation to assist Apple in identifying these scum that the courts admit and agree violated civil law, yet never provide guidance how or to what extent Apple may avail itself to locate and punish these these bastards. It seems incredibly hypocritical for the government to say it cannot help Apple, then provide no direction or set limits to the methods Apple can use to identify and penalize the lawbreakers. No doubt, the same court that refuses to demand O’Grady reveal the lawbreakers will gladly step in an bind Apple’s hands when the court becomes suddenly inspired and declares Apple’s methods prohibited, severe, excessive, or inappropriate.

    What is justice when Apple, which committed no crime, is denied help by the government that protects lawbreakers? What is justice, when the court actually encourages deceitfulness and violation of contractual agreements?

  2. I think everyone here who is bent out of shape about this needs to realize two things.

    1) Apple isn’t suing these bloggers for actually publishing the information.

    2) Apple simply wants to know who violated their NDA and gave the info out.

    There’s nothing totalitarian about it. I also find it amazing how people are so fired up over this, yet no one seems to give a crap that the government is stripping away civil rights and becoming more and more secretive about it in the name of this bogus ‘war’.

  3. “that is no concern for the law or courts. It is Apple’s internal problem”

    What would you suggest Apple do, hire a hit squad and kick down the doors of the people who blog and torture them for the information.

    By your standard, there would be no legal system. This is exactly what it’s for. Should we also then say, oh microsoft is a monopoly, but its not the courts problem, let people figure it out. Or perhaps if someone steals a design from another company, it’s not the court’s problem, let the two companies duke it out.

    What youa re suggesting is anarchy.

  4. Conrad Rushing believes that the public right to know anything and everything surpasses the right to privacy and the moral and legal obligation of a legitimate contract. Well, I guess this precedent means that the contract that you sign is worth nothing more than the paper it was printed.

    Exactly how does this protect any individual or any business or you? Will the validity of a contract be dependent upon the guile and verbosity of your lawyer rather than the actual language of the contract?

  5. “The notion that a business could shut down web bloggers smacks of totalitarian behavior.”

    So you would have no problem if I, as a blogger, exercise FREE SPEECH, and post all your PRIVATE information, such as your ss#, credit card info, passwords to your bank account etc. on my blog…

    After all its MY FREE SPEECH!

    Sad to see so many people with underdeveloped brain mass.

  6. Macromancer,

    I think it is perfectly reasonable to “get bent out of shape” when the courts sponsor or encourage social disorder, promote and legitimize violation of legal contracts, praise and honor persons who assist others that are liars, and protect the liars themselves.

  7. I find it interesting how the protection of corporations has overtaken the protection of individuals as the highest goal of American culture. It seems that the 50 year effort by corporatists in this culture have actually succeeded in convincing the mob that corporations are not only legally, but somehow legitimately, people. Not the people who make up the corporation . . but the organizational entity itself.

    Yes, contracts should be protected. But when do the usurpation of the rights of the individual trump the rights of the corporation. Those who legitimately believe that ‘corporations are people’ argument seem to think that the incorporated entity deserves all the rights previously ascribed to individual human beings, but with the addition of all of the special rights and protections accorded to incorporations.

    We are going to need a new Bill of Rights soon . . .just to see what these new organizational entities will allow us little biological human beings to retain. After all, ‘Freedom of Speech’ only protects us from the government, and only in the United States. It does nothing to protect us from corporations.

  8. A crime was committed in that someone disclosed company secrets in violation of a signed NDA. This is breach of contract.
    This judge basically said that it was OK for him/her to get away with it.

    This has nothing to do with bloggers ability to write. Only that the bloggers are protecting a criminal.

    Apple should appeal because the behavior of the miscreant was wrong. This is truly a precident setting case because it will allow anyone to anonymously “blog” corporate secrets without fear of reprisal; all in the name of free speech.

  9. Here’s the deal: Apple only has control over their employees, not some random blogger. So the only way Apple could have any power over the blogger is if he had signed some sort of non-disclosure agreement with Apple. In other words, if an Apple employee leaked the info to this blogger, the blogger is immune from Apple’s power. Apple doesn’t get the right to restrict everyone’s behaviour – just the people who sign onto Apple’s rules.

    It is very difficult to keep secrets when many people know about them. This is not a problem with the market, and it does not need to be fixed by passing laws – this is just a part of human nature. Now, if Apple happens to find the leak through other means, then they should punish the leak. But not by coercing someone who never signed anything with Apple. It is Apple’s responsibility to come up with methods of preventing or locating leaks without coercing non-employees. Perhaps all Apple employees would be fed slightly different information, so that the leak can be revealed by the unique details in his version of the story. This is called a ‘canary trap’. Alternatively, Apple could make a rule that all people who know the big picture must be confined to the Apple campus until the project is complete. This is not unfair because the only way Apple could get these employees to agree to these terms is by paying them more.

    Apple and other big companies need to deal with their own problems themselves, instead of using force and coercion against people who have signed no contracts.

  10. Tergenev:

    “But when do the usurpation of the rights of the individual trump the rights of the corporation.”

    What right does a person have to violate a confidentiality agreement or any other legitimate contract without penalty? Why do you expect that a person who violates a confidentiality agreement or any other legitimate contract be protected from discovery?

    Is it not reasonable that a person, who willingly and without coercion, agrees to the terms of a confidentiality agreement, be held accountable for violating their oath of fidelity? Is it now legitimate for a single individual to violate a legal document because it negatively impacts or damages a multitude or collection of individuals (the corporation or institution)?

    What rights does a single individual have to protect his or her assets and secrets? What rights does a company or institution (a collection of many individuals) have to protect its assets and secrets?

    Are conspiracy and deceit the moral equivalence of collaboration and cooperation? Are conspiracy and deceit the morally superior to collaboration and cooperation?

  11. Libertarian my ass:

    “Apple and other big companies need to deal with their own problems themselves, instead of using force and coercion against people who have signed no contracts.”

    Are you suggesting that a person has no moral or ethical obligation to any person, group, or thing if the person has not already signed a legal contract with another person, group, or thing? Does this mean that I should be able to develop a company or a blog site that divulges medical, financial, and personal information about YOU since I never signed a nondisclosure agreement with YOU?

  12. I am willing to bet that the Judge owns a musical instrument. My bet is an acoustic guitar.

    He also owns a multi-track recording machine and is fond of the songs he has written. He knows that he is ahead of the crowd. SO much so that the record companies will never dig his tunes. Only the other musical geniuses at “Open Mic night” at the local coffe house understand him.

    So when the man comes along tries to keep him from a way to distrubute his tunes…this judge says “Enough of the man!”.

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