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The iPhone saga gets even more interesting...

It looks as though Gizmodo and Gawker Media has just landed themselves in hot water. Last week's scoop on the fourth generation iPhone brought the site massive page views and coverage on CNN, the Today Show, and even The View.

However, as we noted last last week, law enforcement in the Silicon Valley area are investigating the details surrounding how the iPhone was lost and Gizmodo's $5,000 transaction to retrieve said phone. Today, Gizmodo snuck in a tiny headline on its frontpage that shows that editor Jason Chen had a few visitors to his home on Friday night:

Last Friday night, California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen's home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers. They did so using a warrant by Judge of Superior Court of San Mateo. According to Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gawker Media LLC, the search warrant to remove these computers was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.

According to Chen's account of the events, the police bashed down his door while he was out. By the time he arrived at home, the police had already been there for a few hours and were well into cataloging his electronic possessions. In total, the task force seized 19 items from Chen's home including his MacBook, a ThinkPad laptop, MediaSmart server, a few external hard drives, two USB thumb drives, digital cameras, and an iPod.

The Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team is looking for email communications, call records, contact lists, text messages, and any other material relating to the sale of the iPhone 4G.

While the fourth generation iPhone saga has been detailed here on DailyTech in a few articles, you can see Gizmodo's coverage here. The full subpoena along with Gizmodo's response can be seen here.



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RE: Apple harassing journalists
By AnnihilatorX on 4/26/2010 6:50:16 PM , Rating: 1
It's called finder's keepers

It's perfectly legal to pick up something and put it in your pocket provided you tried locating the owner in the vicinity, and after so take it to police station. If a legitimate owner does not claim the item for so many days, the item will be returned to the finder.

At least that's the UK law. Don't know about the finder law in US.


RE: Apple harassing journalists
By bwave on 4/26/2010 7:22:14 PM , Rating: 3
In the US (at least based on my experience in Maryland) you are required to turn item into law enforcement, then they hold the item for 30 days. After 30 days, they AUCTION the item off, and keep all proceeds for themselves. You don't get a finders fee or anything.

(had a friend watch a $750 peice of equipment fall off a work truck, nearly hitting his truck. He got out and put on his truck to get it out of the roadway, and drove it immediately to Sheriff's office, along with a description of the truck and the first 3 letters of the Maryland license plate. He left his name and address, when he called 2 weeks later to check if the guy had picked it up. (mostly for curiosity sake hoping the guy had) he was told that was not public information. He was told he was welcome to come bid on it during the next scheduled public auction should the guy have not claimed by then. Item sold for ~$400


RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Solandri on 4/27/2010 3:04:38 PM , Rating: 2
California law requires you to make an earnest attempt to find the rightful owner, or return it where you found it (in this case, the bar, presumably so the bar could try to return it to the owner). Failing that, you're supposed to turn it in to the police. If nobody files a lost item report to claim the phone, after a certain amount of time, it becomes yours and you can pick it up from the police. Then you can sell it to Gizmodo for $5000.

Since the phone wasn't turned in to the police, it didn't belong to the person who sold it and he had no right to sell it. The moment he sold it, it became stolen property (as in, he's claiming he owns it so he can sell it, when he doesn't really own it). Otherwise you could do silly things like claim you "found" a shiny new Mercedes which was "lost" in a parking lot, and when you couldn't find the owner you sold it to the friendly neighborhood chop shop.


RE: Apple harassing journalists
By alanore on 4/26/2010 7:43:10 PM , Rating: 2
Finder's keepers law is only applicable to unowned or abandoned items. I'm not sure if this would count as unowned/abandoned as apple originally didn't want it back (allegedly), but then they did.

Either way finder's keepers is only a quasi-law.


RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Omega215D on 4/26/2010 7:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
so you find someone's phone with HIS contact info, yet you can still keep it with impunity? That's some serious bull.

unless the guy who found it called Apple HQ and not tech support it's considered stolen.

That said, I still don't know if this is part of a publicity stunt. XFX did something similar, ie. claiming product was stolen but they had a disclaimer on the bottom of the notice.

If it's not a stunt then yes the person who picked up the phone and Gizmodo broke the law. it needs to be 30 days before someone can claim a found item theirs.


RE: Apple harassing journalists
By walk2k on 4/26/2010 8:05:37 PM , Rating: 2
I do agree the police tactics here seem excessive.. they took his iPod? Really?? Like it would have email or text message or phone records? It's a damn iPod!

Reminds me of Steve Jackson Games all over again.

Also this: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/1/26/


RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Aloonatic on 4/27/2010 2:14:35 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's called finder's keepers
Maybe when you're 10, in the play ground.

There's a offence called "theft by finding" where, basically, you have to make a reasonable attempt to return what you find to the owner, else if you keep it, you are a thief. If you find £10 on the street, you're not going to be prosecuted as the odds are, it would be impossible to find the original owner. If you find a sack full of cash, then you need to hand it in, as someone will be looking for it. Same goes for found lottery tickets, I think there was a case not that long ago where a couple found a ticket that had one a large prize and were prosecuted. If the item has been abandoned, then it's yours.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8129534.stm

It would be hard to claim that the "finder" was not able to return a mobile phone to its original owner, or that the phone was "abandoned" by them. Just call the network operator and they will do the rest, or with an iPhone, just go to your nearest Apple shop thing (whatever they're called) and clearly someone was looking for this, so it wasn't "abandoned".

Not that any of that matters, as this case didn't happen in the UK, but I thought you might want so clarity on the UK laws, so that you don't fall foul of them and find yourself looking foolish in court, using "play-ground" defences.


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