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Print 32 comment(s) - last by captchaos2.. on Jul 13 at 5:49 PM

Judges say online journalists should be protected by the same laws as traditional journalists

According to reports, Apple this week decided to drop its legal battle with several online websites that leaked information about unreleased Apple products. Despite a long drawn out battle, Apple decided not to appeal a ruling by a panel of three judges that rejected Apple's arguments that the writers for the online websites were not "true journalists."

Apple went after AppleInsider, MacNN.com and PowerPage.org after information was released about a FireWire product codenamed Asteroid for its music application GarageBand. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) ended up supporting the three websites and said that Apple's actions undermined the rights of journalists and threatened the safety of those who leak information to journalists. Judge Franklin Elia was quoted saying that Apple tried to "trump the First Amendment."

In May, a court ruling denied Apple rights to have the identities of those who leaked information be revealed. The case was originally filed in a Santa Clara County court but judges wondered why Apple had not performed any investigation internally. The judges felt that Apple had not exercised enough internal investigation to justify going outside of the company. "Apple has failed to establish that it adequately pursued other possible means to identify the source of the information in question," said the judges.

EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl said that "[Apple] just can't take a shortcut through a journalist" to identify the source of information. Although Apple did not submit an appeal -- and the deadline to do so has passed -- court documents showed that Apple's own internal investigators interviewed 29 employees. No details were released on the results of the investigation.


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Legal stupidity
By Helbore on 7/13/2006 1:13:20 PM , Rating: 2
I dont understand how Apple's case brings up so much controversy on the first amendment.People talk like if they'd succeeeded, all our rights to free speech would be curtailed.

Freedom of the press is supposed to be about providing information to the public that government or business might want to hide and would be dangerous to the public. for instance, stopping the press from reporting on government corruption or that a business was building dangerous products. If somebody breaks the law to report on such far-reaching illegal activities, then they need to be protected otherwise people wouldn't risk their necks.

However, in this case, someone has broken an NDA (which must have happened for trade secrets to be leaked, unless a careless exec left a file on the train!) and all that was reported was about an upcoming product. nothing that benefits society to know. Apple weren't committing a crime and were caught out by an internal informer. They just had a criminal member of staff steal documents and provide them to a journalist.

Why should this be allowed? People like to talk about the constitution, but I think such behaviour spits in the face of the founding fathers. The constitution was created to protect the people, not assist the criminals. Its an insult to what the first amendment was introduced for. Criminals should not be allowed to steal and then hide behind the law to protect themselves.




RE: Legal stupidity
By smitty3268 on 7/13/2006 1:22:39 PM , Rating: 3
You are basically advocating breaking the 1st ammendment unless it is really important, which is the opposite of how the law is usually interpreted - upholding the ammendment unless it is really important.

I can see what you are arguing, but for me it is the classic case of a "slippery slope." Who decides what is important enough to justify applying the 1st ammendment?


RE: Legal stupidity
By rrsurfer1 on 7/13/2006 1:28:05 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly.


RE: Legal stupidity
By Rapsven on 7/13/2006 1:36:24 PM , Rating: 2
Amendment rights have been broken before, just in extreme circumstances, which bolsters the above poster's remarks.

For example, our right to a fair and speedy trial were essentially ignored. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War in order to conduct warfare in a streamlined manner. Sure, you can cry foul and say he had no right to do it, but in that sort of situation, it is much more forgivable and understandeable. Taney and the other justices might have disagreed with Lincoln, but they wouldn't on practical grounds.

Trampling on amendment rights almost always happen during times of war. Now we're in the peace time. If amendment rights are revoked/ignored during the peace, there is a massive problem with our society.


RE: Legal stupidity
By captchaos2 on 7/13/2006 5:49:25 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it illegal for a person to stalk someone else, but legal for paparazzi to do it? Why is it a crime for a CIA agent to leak info about secret operations, but ok for a company employee to do the same? Why is it ok for a "journalist" to hold out money in his hand and find a weak individual to get what they want, but we arrest prostitutes and johns for the same kind of transactions? Why is it ok for "journalists" to ruin countless peoples' lives or sink companies just for the sake of a story and a magazine/newspaper sale? Sorry, but the First Amendment was not made to cover irresponsible, self-serving "journalists". Freedom of the Press means that real journalists can report on the truth and actual events as they really happen with no censorship, but it does not mean that depraved, morally bankrupt "journalists" can hold money out to weak company employees to buy company information on intellectual property that they have no rights to and does not belong to them.


RE: Legal stupidity
By TomZ on 7/13/2006 1:57:50 PM , Rating: 2
The answer to your question lies in history and human nature. In essence, if the government were able to get journalists to always give up their sources, then the government would likely seek to silence sources by abusing the legal system. The net effect of this type of repression would be more control of the press by the government, which is contrary to the principle that one of the most important roles of the press is to inform citizens about the actions of the government.

You can substitute "corporation" for "government" in the above - the situation is pretty much the same.


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