Apple grilled by judge in Think Secret lawsuit

stevejobssuesbloggersThank god for the sanity of Judge Franklin Elia of the 6th District Court of Appeal, who said to Apple on Thursday:

“All you want here is the name of a snitch, so you’re saying you have the right to invade the privacy of the e-mail system and to trump the First Amendment … just to find out who in your organization is giving out inappropriate information?”

Full report at

Nicholasciarelli Elia’s comments are in relation to Apple’s lawsuit against Think Secret blogger Nicholas Ciarelli, who published pictures and details of an unreleased Apple product codenamed “Asteroid”. It was a relatively uninteresting product – just a Firewire breakout box that would allow multiple musical instruments to be plugged into a Mac for multi-track recording. It wasn’t an original idea, nor the first product of its type.

But Apple sued Ciarelli, claiming that he had broken Californian “uniform trade secrets act“, which makes it a criminal offence to publish information that a company considers secret intellectual property.

Journalists in the US are exempt from these corporate-driven laws: they are protected by the California Constitution and Federal Constitution. But not bloggers. And Apple has been at pains to paint Ciarelli as a blogger, not a journalist.

In my view, this is complete bullshit — journalism is about reporting information that’s in the public interest — not the level of commercial backing, or the medium on which the words/pictures are conveyed.

And clearly, unfortunately for Apple, the appellate court thinks so too.

I once had a lengthy phone argument with Apple Australia’s then head of public relations — Martha Raupp — who argued ernestly to me that bloggers don’t have credibility or deserve the protections that professional journalists get.

She was clearly trying to vainly appeal to the ‘professional journalist’ side of me, while somehow overlooking that I got my start at Whirlpool, which started off as a blog about how crap broadband was in Australia.

I couldn’t believe at the time that she believed what she was saying, which made it all the worse.

Who knows what Raupp really thought, but in my opinion, there’s little worse than a PR person who blindly parrots the company line even if it conflicts with their own beliefs. I have much more respect for PR people who, once they realise they’re not going to win over the journalist, just admit they were giving their client’s point of view the best effort, but yes, on a personal level, they can see where you’re coming from.

There’s a good summary of this case on Online Journalism Review.


2 Replies to “Apple grilled by judge in Think Secret lawsuit”

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