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Apple's court case could very well change news reporting as we know it

A year or two ago, Apple Computer became intolerant to the fact that its unreleased product information was being leaked to the public. To Apple, this was a breach of trade secrets, something that many companies do not take lightly. Fortunately, for journalists, the law protects them and their sources from corporate giants. In fact, under the First Amendment, journalists have the right to keep their sources a secret.

Apple decided to take the issue to a higher level and today is in court defending itself. Apple is fighting with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an organization dedicated to protecting the rights of journalists. The EFF is defending three websites dedicated to reporting Apple-specific information: AppleInsider.com, MacNN.com and PowerPage.org. According to the court case, Apple is not actually going after the sites themselves, but is going after a ruling that would allow it to obtain information on who leaked information to the websites. Apple believes that its employees are accountable for the leaked information, and it wants rights to put down the hammer.

If Apple wins the case, it could jeopardize the rights of journalists everywhere. Corporations would be able to request the identities of those who leak information and news reporting would be hurt. However, The Mercury News reports that Apple faces a tough fight. It’s being asked difficult questions and so far, the courts have not yet deemed Apple’s claims to be valid. "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?" said Judge Franklin Elia.

Other high tech companies, including Intel have now joined in to give support to Apple. The case itself is shaping up to be a milestone case, for either side of the industry. But the three websites and the EFF are not alone. Other media corporations such as The Associated Press are chiming in support. DailyTech previously reported that Apple had filed for patents regarding a method to interact with computers using physical gestures. While the pictures in the report are public information, some diagrams relating to unannounced technologies that were published by other Apple-focused news sites were not. Interestingly, after examining the diagrams, Judge Conrad Rushing asked Apple "It's just a picture of a product, why is that a trade secret?"

DailyTech, like many other news publications, does not sign disclosure agreements -- so best of luck to the EFF.




"We’re Apple. We don’t wear suits. We don’t even own suits." -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs
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