The people at Gizmodo are a bunch of Mac fan boys, you know, Apple Mac fan boys, and the story here is that this poor guy at Apple had his prototype iPhone 4G in a bar in the Bay Area somewhere, I forget exactly where it was, but it was a beer garden, and for some reason he had his prototype phone — I’m sure they have to test these things at Apple before they put ’em on the market — he had his off campus. He had it in the bar. He left it there on a stool and eventually the Gizmodo guys found out about it because they were offered a chance to buy the phone by somebody who found it on the bar stool. Well, they then published pictures and reviews of everything about the new phone. They ripped it open. They looked to see what’s inside it. They gave away a whole lot of potential secrets that Apple competitors could really use. There’s a reason for corporate security here. The mobile smart phone business is highly competitive and the Gizmodo guys practically gave away as much as they could about what’s in this phone that’s supposed to hit in June.
Well, lo and behold, a short time later — oh, and then Apple asked for the phone back, since the Gizmodo guys admitted that they had it. So Apple asked for the phone back, and the Gizmodo guys, “Okay, but we want your request in writing.” So Apple’s legal counsel sends the request in writing. Now, you Gizmodo guys, and you Gawker guys, this is where you erred. Your response to Apple’s letter was juvenile and snarky and totally unnecessary. I don’t know that Apple is behind these charges that had been brought or might be brought against one of the Gizmodo editors, because this is a criminal, not a civil complaint. Apple may not have any control over whether or not the DA out there levels charges. If it was a civil case then Apple could say, okay, go after ’em or not go after ’em, but if it is a criminal case, if the DA out there thinks that Gizmodo essentially knew it knowingly bought a stolen phone, traded in stolen merchandise, then the Gizmodo editor, Jason Chen, may not be protected by the Shield Law. The Shield Law says that journalists cannot be charged and cannot have search warrants executed against their home or their office or whatever, but in this case, if it’s stolen property, if that’s the angle the cops are going for then the Shield Law may not apply, and this little editor could be in for some trouble.
Now, the Shield Law does not apply if Chen, the Gizmodo editor, is suspected of breaking the law. The Shield Law applies when he is protecting someone else who broke the law, but he’s not allowed to break the law. A journalist is not allowed to break the law. You’re allowed to shield sources and this kind of thing. So journalist shield laws are about journalists being able to protect sources who may have committed crimes, but it’s not a license for journalists to commit crimes. So it’s all going to come down to whether or not the DA and the cops out there think Jason Chen committed a crime, not whether Apple thinks so, but whether the DA thinks so.
There’s much more in the full transcript here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “John Gee” for the heads up.]