Did Gizmodo break the law with its 4G iPhone story?

“Over the years I’ve become intimately familiar with the law as it affects journalists on both sides of the pond,” Ian Betteridge reports for Technovia.

“I’ve covered cases like the ‘trade secrets’ disputes between Apple and various news sources, and even had a couple of cases where companies (including one or two very big ones) have wanted to sue me,” Betteridge reports. “I’ve learned about this stuff because I’ve had to, in order to avoid ending up in court.”

Betteridge reports, “I’ve been looking through the various statutes which might just affect Gizmodo’s legal case over the putative new iPhone.”

Full article here.

32 Comments

  1. Frankly I’m not happy about what they did….when every idiotic tv “news” show is falling all over themselves to show what the thing looks like it doesn’t make me respect Gizmodo. $5000? Seriously?

  2. I don’t know why the guy who lost it didn’t track it afterwards. If the guy who found it called Apple, I would think the guy who lost it would have followed that lead. In any case, everyone in Gizmodo should go to prison for sharing with Google, HTC, and Dell and others, trade secrets of my favorite company.

  3. While I don’t really agree with Gizmodo, I don’t think you can really say they did anything illegal as the “trade secret” was exposed by an Apple company employee leaving a prototype on a barstool.

  4. Excellent article… recommend reading the whole thing. I think he hits the nail on its head. Criminal action by both the finder & GIZMODO? Yes. Apple to pursue charges? Unlikely. Ethical? Up for debate…

  5. Technovia: “However, if something is seen from a public space, it loses its trade secret protection. You can photograph it, describe it, or examine it in any way which doesn’t violate any other laws. You probably can’t open up a car and poke around in its innards, but that wouldn’t be because it was a trade secret – it would be because you can’t do that with someone else’s property.”

    Even if you left your keys laying in the street beside your car, that would not justify someone getting in and driving it away, much less selling it to a chop shop to tear apart.

    Gizmodo is clearly in the wrong in this case, and they will have to face the potentially significant consequences. And the person who found the reputed iPhone 4G, even if he/she did “contact Apple” and did not receive a prompt response, is also clearly in the wrong, although a judge or jury would likely tend to be somewhat lenient in this example.

    The world is full of thieves who would prefer to be called opportunists. The way that I was raised, you don’t return lost property expecting a reward, and you certainly don’t sell it.

  6. I think one measure of the journalistic integrity of a story is if it has any reasonable benefit that society should know about. Then it’s generally considered a valid reason to publish the story. I don’t think Giz posting this on their website has any redeeming qualities to the public at large, only to their personal benefit (and profit).

  7. I think the real question is: Has Gizmodo or any of the people related to Gizmodo signed an NDA (NonDisclosure Agreement) with Apple?

    If so, and I believe they would have signed one to attend some of the events they attend, then they are fasked.

    You can’t claim that you had a “momentary moment” of lapsed integrity and plead journalistic freedom.

    (I know I have had to sign NDAs with Apple that make the Developer NDA look like a walk in the park).

    My personal opinion is that Gizmodo should never be allowed near another Apple event. Period.

    And charges should be brought against them for possession of “stolen” property. And in the eyes of the law, the phone was stolen. You can hem and haw about it and make all sorts of justified excuses but, in reality, the phone was stolen as soon as the guy received it and did not turn it in to the bar manager. And Gizmodo taking possession (with or without the exchange of money) is trafficking in stolen property. Period.

    Fry their a$$e$! Period.

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