Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Bloggers Speak up about the Apple Case

We have previously discussed Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg and the lawsuit Apple Computer filed against three websites: PowerPage (www.power page.org), Apple Insider (www.appleinsider .com) and Think Secret (www.thinksecret .com).

Our posts regarding this assault on the blogosphere are found here and here.

Now, bloggers have stepped up to the plate:

"Groups working to protect journalists' press freedoms, the creator of a blog-search tool, weblog publishers, and dozens of individual online journalist/bloggers filed a friend-of-the-court brief (PDF) today in Apple v. Does -- the case in which Apple Computer is seeking to unmask online journalists' confidential sources for articles about forthcoming Apple products.

The amici urged the court to adopt "a functional test for the newsgatherers' privilege that does not discriminate between reporters, regardless of the medium in which they publish." They ask the court to "adopt a test that will not impede journalists' use of the Internet to report news by limiting their constitutional protections when they publish there."

The amici are (in alphabetical order)

For full descriptions of the amici, see the application for leave to file the brief (PDF).

Previous amicus briefs in this case:

Again, these are the first steps towards a blogosphere Sullivan vs. N.Y. Times unless Apple Computers GETS it and drops their lawsuit.

Come on Apple.....why are you pushing an issue that may harm or at least turn-off your best customers?

Update #1

Here is a summary of the case Apple vs. Does with links to all of the pertinent documents, including motions:

Apple v. Does

» Printable Case Summary [PDF, 132K]
» Frequently Asked Questions about this case

In December 2004, Apple filed a lawsuit in Santa Clara county against unnamed individuals who allegedly leaked information about new Apple products to several online news sites, including AppleInsider and PowerPage. The articles at issue concerned a FireWire audio interface for GarageBand, codenamed "Asteroid" or "Q7." In addition, Apple filed a separate trade secret suit against Think Secret on January 4, 2004.

Apple is seeking information from these news sites regarding the identities of the sites' sources, and has subpoenaed Nfox.com, the email service provider for PowerPage, for email messages that may identify the confidential source.

EFF opposes Apple's discovery because the confidentiality of the media's sources and unpublished information are critical means for journalists of all stripes to acquire information and communicate it to the public. Because today's online journalists frequently depend on confidential sources to gather material, their ability to promise confidentiality is essential to maintaining the strength of independent media. Furthermore, the protections required by the First Amendment are necessary regardless of whether the journalist uses a third party for communications.

Petition to Court of Appeal:
O'Grady, et al. v. Apple Computer, Inc., Case Number H028579

April 11, 2005

April 8, 2005

April 7, 2005

March 22, 2005

Motion for Protective Order

March 11, 2005

March 2, 2005

February 25th, 2005

February 14, 2005


Initial Documents

Related Media

Hat Tip: Electronic Frontier Foundation

Update #2

Scott Rosenberg has an excellent piece here:

".....I'm not enough of a lawyer to try to predict where that argument is headed; it seems of a piece with a variety of assaults taking place today on the rights of journalists to protect their sources. (The parallel amicus brief presented by the AP, a long list of California newspapers and the Reporters' Committee for the Freedom of the Press tackles this issue.)

What I do know is that, if the New York Times or Time magazine published a scoop from an anonymous source about a forthcoming Apple product, the company wouldn't be suing the press. So it's important here for people who do journalism at all points along the spectrum from "pro" to "citizens" to step forward and say: If you ask questions with intent to publish, and you publish information someone considers news, you're a journalist, and should be treated as one by the courts."

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