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Steve Jobs is not amused
Gawker Media paid $5,000 for stolen iPhone

The iPhone 4G (or HD if you prefer) saga appears to be winding down. The story started over the weekend when Engadget gained access to pictures of what appears to be a prototype for the next generation iPhone. Gizmodo one-upped Engadget by actually gaining access to the actual phone.

To get the iPhone, Gawker Media -- parent of Gizmodo -- paid $5,000 to the person that found the iPhone at a bar. While Gizmodo kept the name of this person secret, it had no trouble outing the actual Apple employee who lost the phone. The employee is a 2006 graduate of NC State University and works at Apple as a BaseBand Software Engineer according to his Linkedin profile (which has since been taken down).

Now that the cat is out of the bag, Apple wants its iPhone back. Gizmodo's Brian Lam received a letter this morning from Bruce Sewell, an Apple Senior Vice President and General Counsel. The letter confirms that the iPhone in question is in fact from Apple (and not a counterfeit) and goes on to state, "This letter constitutes a formal request that you return the device to Apple. Please let me know where to pick up the unit."

Lam wrote back in a joking fashion, and even asked Apple go easy on the person that lost the phone:

Happy to have you pick this thing up. Was burning a hole in our pockets. Just so you know, we didn't know this was stolen when we bought it. Now that we definitely know it's not some knockoff, and it really is Apple's, I'm happy to see it returned to its rightful owner.

P.S. I hope you take it easy on the kid who lost it. I don't think he loves anything more than Apple.

Whether Apple will take Lam's advice and go easy on the guy remains to be seen. However, given that Steve Jobs once threw a tantrum over a newspaper exec tweeting from a prototype iPad before its release, it's doubtful that Steve will show mercy.



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RE: money back
By JasonMick (blog) on 4/20/2010 9:45:22 AM , Rating: 4
As a journalist I can appreciate as much as anybody the need to break a story, but there's multiple problems with Gizmodo's whole behavior:

First, there's no reasonable excuse for them publishing all the information on the dude who lost it, including his name and picture. That could be interpreted as character defamation or libel. At the very least it's a douche move. You always protect your sources and it's completely unethical to engage in personal attacks.

Lam can play all innocent, but in the Jesus Diaz piece, the employee was portrayed in a very negative and demeaning light. Worse, it relied entirely on hearsay.

Then to top it off, I can't believe Gizmodo ADMITTED to buying the phone. I'm no lawyer, but it seems like "buying" lost property, is akin to buying stolen property. I'd be amazed if that doesn't violate some law.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no Apple groupie and it was a great scoop for Giz.

That said, the way they conducted themselves was certainly unethical, and quite possibly illegal. That personal attack was completely over the top and launched them into tabloid territory.


RE: money back
By wifiwolf on 4/20/2010 9:55:17 AM , Rating: 2
Agree. And it's a stupid move since Jobs would pay more for the name of the employee than for the phone. :D


RE: money back
By beerhound on 4/20/2010 10:57:41 AM , Rating: 2
Apple didn't need any help finding the name of the employee. It was a prototype, there can't be that many floating around out there. Since they remotely bricked it, the guy probably called his supervisor the next day and told them what happened. Wouldn't it suck to have your dream job and have to make the phone call. "Boss, uuummmm we have a problem. I lost my phone."


RE: money back
By bodar on 4/20/2010 3:21:21 PM , Rating: 5
"Apology accepted, Captain Needa. *whhhooo-keessshhh*"

Ahhh, maybe they'll let him off easy and just ruin his career.


RE: money back
By tdawg on 4/20/2010 11:20:40 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know, maybe it was a smart move to identify the person that lost the device. Now a lot of people know who he is and if he all of a sudden loses his job at Apple, there might be a public backlash/outcry that Apple would have to deal with, so Apple might think twice about firing the kid.


RE: money back
By Newspapercrane on 4/20/2010 11:52:34 AM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't be so much worried about losing his job as "Disappearing" With his name out there if he comes to an unfortunate end relatively soon, we'll all know why.


RE: money back
By MPE on 4/20/2010 10:02:37 AM , Rating: 2
You guys have your own issues with journalistic standards. You should concern yourselves with that first.


RE: money back
By banthracis on 4/20/2010 10:09:21 AM , Rating: 5
Actually, if they've been truthful, Gizmodo pretty much has no legal liability here.

If you read the gizmodo article on how they acquired the device, it appears the person who originally found it contacted Apple several times in an attempt to return the device and even had a ticket number.

Apple did not get back to the individual. Because a good faith attempt was made to return the device and the company did not appear to want it back (there was a period of weeks for apple to request the device back before gizmodo purchased it), the device can be considered abandoned property.

Failing that, because gizmodo has offered to return the device as soon as the owner(Apple) admitted it was their device and requested it back, they have no legal liability.


RE: money back
By samspqr on 4/21/2010 5:36:54 AM , Rating: 2
+1

(why wouldn't this board let me post just that "+1"?)
(forget it, I think it will work with this down here)


RE: money back
By Lord 666 on 4/20/2010 10:57:05 AM , Rating: 5
Corrected that for you;

quote:
As a blogger...


RE: money back
By MPE on 4/20/2010 11:19:05 AM , Rating: 2
LOL -
Obviously, as a "journalist" he failed to read the entire article he was criticizing.


RE: money back
By phattyboombatty on 4/20/2010 12:47:16 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Then to top it off, I can't believe Gizmodo ADMITTED to buying the phone. I'm no lawyer, but it seems like "buying" lost property, is akin to buying stolen property.

Buying the phone makes absolutely no difference from a legal perspective. The potential crime is "knowingly taking possession of stolen property." If they knew it was stolen, whether they bought it or were given the phone as a gift free of charge is irrelevant.


RE: money back
By mfenn on 4/20/2010 12:50:36 PM , Rating: 2
Holy crap, I can't believe I'm agreeing with Mick on this!

If they're not legally liable, they are, at the very least, douches.


RE: money back
By phattyboombatty on 4/20/2010 12:51:50 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
You always protect your sources

And Gizmodo did protect its source. The employee who lost his phone was not Gizmodo's source, so Gizmodo had no ethical obligation to keep his name a secret.
quote:
First, there's no reasonable excuse for them publishing all the information on the dude who lost it, including his name and picture. That could be interpreted as character defamation or libel.

It's only character defamation or libel if Gizmodo said anything that was false. If it turns out that the phone was not lost by this particular Apple employee, Gizmodo is probably on the hook for libel.


RE: money back
By Reclaimer77 on 4/20/2010 4:46:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As a journalist...


Ha ! HAHAAHhhaha !! HHHAAHAAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaa aaaa !! HAHAHHAAAAAAAA oh god I can't breath...

Ok.

Ok I'm cool....

AHAHAHAHAHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaAHAhhahahahahahah ahahaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaa aa !!!!!!!!!!!!


RE: money back
By phattyboombatty on 4/20/2010 5:50:57 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't seen a 6 in a while, but you sir have earned it (don't hold your breath though).


RE: money back
By Hieyeck on 4/21/2010 12:17:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but you sir have earned it

Reclaimer77 posting a 6 worthy post? That almost makes me want to post a comment as poorly composed as his. I have never known anyone to laugh with extended "ha"s. And if he actually does, he would be the type I would want to punch in the face.


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