Reporting on business, if this bad ruling is upheld on appeal, will be a great deal harder in the future. Companies will simply slap "trade secret" protection on everything they do, and any reporter who gets a scoop on anything the company doesn't want the public to know about will be under a legal threat.
AP: Judge: Apple can press bloggers on sources. A California judge on Friday ruled that three independent online reporters may have to divulge confidential sources in a lawsuit brought by Apple Computer Inc., ruling that there are no legal protections for those who publish a company's trade secrets.
At least the judge didn't fully buy Apple's contention that the bloggers are not journalists. He ducked the question. His ruling suggests he was half-persuaded that these folks may well be journalists after all. Thanks for small favors.
But there will be long-range damage from this. Apple's acolytes, who keep finding reasons to worship a company that deserves increasing contempt, won't care. Someday, they will, but maybe too late by then.
During the time Steve Jobs has run the company, Apple has been hostile to truly independent journalism about its products and policies. This current attack on journalism -- and that is precisely what is going on here -- reflects the side of Jobs that will someday lead the company back down from its current heights. He is a genius, no question, but he is a control freak who doesn't seem to care whatsoever that he's infuriating some natural allies.
I'm writing this on a Mac. If I were buying a replacement today, I'm not at all sure I'd make the same choice again.