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Apple shuts down one of its greatest supporters in the online news industry for saying too much

From the iPod rumor mill buzz, to the ever-expanding plethora of Apple wares, since its founding in 1998, Think Secret has always been a top source of breaking news from Apple Inc.  While the site dealt chiefly in unreleased and uncertain realms, it scored many scoops that validated its claims of "inside sources" at Apple Inc.

Now in another draconian move, Apple has managed to slay this beloved site, which its executives including Steve Jobs, always saw as an annoyance.  Ironically, the site was chiefly frequented by Apple fans, but Apple has always maintain a closed box policy to some extent which seems to hurt the ones who love it. 

Apple had sued Think Secret for trade secret violations in 2005 after it revealed an unannounced "headless" Mac for $500 and the new iWork office suite.  Apple planned to announce these products at the Mac World that year and virtually confirmed the leak with its lawsuit.  The suit centered on putting the squeeze on Think Secret's sources -- likely so Apple could wish them luck in finding a new job.

Think Secret remained loyal to Apple, its fans, and most significantly its sources to the end.  Site publisher Nick Ciarelli (aka Nick DePlume) settled with Apple, but went down fighting.  Ciarelli refused to betray his sources and instead paid the ultimate price -- losing his beloved website. 

Ciarelli was happy he could at least save his friends from harm.  He sent an email to Engadget stating, "I'll just say that I'm very satisfied with the settlement, and that I'd like to thank the Electronic Frontier Foundation and my attorney, Terry Gross of Gross & Belsky, for their support." 

In the end, Apple's latest move does not sound unfamiliar.  After all, this is the company that bricked thousands of users phones for switching networks and for years sued Mac clones out of existence, despite destroying its own market dominance in doing so. 

However, many will see this latest move as a new low for Apple and Steve Jobs to sink to.  After all, Think Secret was one of the stalwarts of the online tech news industry and a loyal supporter of Apple. 


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RE: Can they really do that?
By cochy on 12/20/2007 12:03:49 PM , Rating: 3
Depends. I've heard of Journalists going to jail because they didn't want to reveal their source. I guess it depends if it's a criminal investigation and they are in court.

In this case it didn't get to court he just settled. But even if it did, he's not an accomplice to any illegal activity as the only illicit activity going on here were Apple employees violating Apple policy. Which isn't illegal, it just gets you fired.


RE: Can they really do that?
By cochy on 12/20/2007 12:15:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
accomplice to any illegal activity


Maybe the proper term would have been obstruction of justice.


RE: Can they really do that?
By omnicronx on 12/20/2007 12:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
I am guessing in this case he just wanted to protect his friends from further investigation. I really doubt he would have been charged with obstruction for this. The only cases I have seen where a member of the media has been charged, is with a serious offense such as murder.


By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 12/20/2007 3:16:45 PM , Rating: 2
If a judge orders you to reveal your sources and you do not, its contempt. A DA can charge you with obstruction of justice, but that's only for a criminal case. This is entirely civil.

A journalist going to jail for failing to reveal sources is generally a badge of honor -- and it's technically not even a criminal charge.

It's very rarely used. This guy just caved under the financial pressure from Apple; our justice system at work.


RE: Can they really do that?
By afkrotch on 12/20/2007 1:24:24 PM , Rating: 2
NDA is a legally binding document. So trying to get the information and spreading it out seems like being an accomplice to an illegal activity.


RE: Can they really do that?
By cochy on 12/20/2007 1:36:41 PM , Rating: 2
Sure but it's not criminal.


RE: Can they really do that?
By Polynikes on 12/20/2007 3:07:52 PM , Rating: 3
Exactly. Breaking an NDA doesn't mean you've broken a criminal law, it just means you broke your contract and can have your pants sued off in civil court.


RE: Can they really do that?
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 12/20/2007 3:12:41 PM , Rating: 2
NDAs don't stand up in civil court even. We've been contested a few times already in just two years and haven't lost a case yet.

They're virtually unenforceable for media.


RE: Can they really do that?
By cochy on 12/20/2007 3:17:55 PM , Rating: 2
Right. But if he gives up his sources at Apple they can be fired and sued.


RE: Can they really do that?
By Polynikes on 12/21/2007 10:13:21 AM , Rating: 2
Interesting. You naughty boys, you.


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