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April 14, 2005


Jim M

I think your line about "doing the deed" rather than "being called" is perfect. Too often we're seeing regular media reporters doing crappy work, spreading BS, not checking up before spouting off, and then stonewalling when they're asked to corect their errors. And they think they should get away with it because it says "Reporter" on their officially authorised business card. This has to stop; they need to walk the walk.


Some stupid kid gets called on for posting stolen corporate information.

This has nothing to do with blogging.

This has nothing to do with journalism.

This has nothing to do with free speech.

This is about THEFT!

Stop trying to spin it Dan.


I don't have a problem calling anyone a journalist. Whether something is journalism or not is something for the public, critics, etc. to decide. Is the National Enquirer journalism? Who's the arbiter for that?

There shouldn't be one class of law for journalists and another for everyone else. In general, we should have free speech. Want to say or print something? Great, do it.

But that's not absolute. You can't scream 'fire' in a crowded movie theater. Libel and slander are things to avoid. That sort of thing will get you in trouble whether you're a journalist or not.

Somewhere in between the "Great, write what you want" and "Don't lie or use speech to cause harm" is this middle ground. And that's what's being addressed in the Apple case(s).

Dan, have you read John Gruber's take on this? What do you agree with? What do you disagree with?

Stop taking an "Apple is obviously evil and wrong" position and try a more nuanced approach to these issues. Even if you maintain your position vis a vis Apple vs. Think Secret, certainly you should have more opinions on the UTSA and these issues in general.

Do you think Think Secret violated the UTSA?

If not, how far could Think Secret go before the UTSA is violated? Or can they publish anything at anytime and never have to worry about the UTSA?

When does a journalist, or someone doing journalistic work, have responsibility?

Jim M

Are upcoming product releases really "tade secrets"? According to the only link I saw for the UTSA, they use this def for "trade secret":

"(4) "Trade secret" means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program device, method, technique, or process, that: (i) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from no being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (ii) is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy."

That really doesn't sound like "announcement of upcoming product release" fits, and isn't that what Apple is really always getting huffy about in these rumor cases?


A journalist or a newspaper commenting on this story is like an oil company commenting on drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. "Sure, the caribou love the drilling rigs!" (ps- if you're against drilling the ANWR, call your rep, it's about to go through in Congress! Unconscionable!) Clearly, they're just looking to gain more leeway with what they can get away with. Whether or not its good for the overall business climate is irrelevant to them.

Picture a newpaper doing a ton of really expensive, opt-in research on its subscribers to try to give itself a big advantage in its publishing and subscription tactics over its cross town rivals. Then the rivals read all the conclusions of that expensive research on some online forum. Is that right? I mean we're essentially talking about corporate espionage here. It's not whistleblowing and it's not protected speech.
But journalists, etc. will keep blowing their horn anytime it benefits them.

manu martin

I have to ask, "What is a journalist"?
Is it just a Western thing.., define "what is a human being?" Define who you are?

Legally, we, each of us are put into an interpretation, definition box.

Who makes the rules? Who have been making them?

Public opinion swaded by mass media..persuade's opinions..

Whose in control of
Your or My or the Mass opinion?

Surely I have alot to do to make it mine, yours, and the world.

Manu Martin



This issue came up on the Daily Kos ( Here's the comment I posted there:

1. It's not about freedom of expression: it's about fencing stolen goods (in this case, information).

2. Apple's success is in no way dependent on ThinkSecret et al, and maintaining a successful Mac website is in no way dependent on soliciting illicit information from people who have signed NDAs.

3. The whole "Are bloggers journalists?" schtick is completely irrelevant to the case.

If the defense of freedom of expression degenerates into anybody-should-be-able-to-publish-whatever-the-fuck-they-want, then eventually the situation will become so untenable that we'll lose everything.

Freedom of expression has nothing to do with me shouting obscenities, or outing CIA agents, or slandering others, or stealing commercial secrets: it's about having the right to express critical and dissenting opinions. Period.


It's totally insane to call near future product ship dates and feature lists "commercial secrets". One question I have for the zombies is why Apple is the only major player in the computer industry who sues everyone in site over these rather trivial leaks. Personally, I think the culture of secrecy and paranoia at Apple is distinctly unhealthy (for it and its deluded fans), and everyone would be better off if Jobs could get a breath of fresh air and clear his head. Yes, he loathes and fears his own employees, and that's not good.


It's totally insane to call near future product ship dates and feature lists "commercial secrets".

So, if the judge ruled in favour of Apple, it must have been more than that, eh?


No, nothing "must" have been the case. Bad rulings are made all the time. It's why we have an appeals court system. Also, you didn't answer my question.



OK, let's go through your original comment step by step.

First, you assert without any evidence that the leaked information consisted of "near future product ship dates and feature lists". How could you know this?

Second, you ask why Apple is the "only" major player to sue "everyone in site [sic]" over "rather trivial leaks". Another unsupported assertion, followed by clear hyperbole, followed by a repetition of your first, unsupported assertion. And you expect an answer to that question?

Third, you complain about Apple's "culture of secrecy and paranoia" and claim to know that Steve Jobs "loathes and fears his own employees". More unsupported assertions, the second of which requires that you know what goes on in Steve Jobs' heart and mind, and all of which is irrelevant to the merits or demerits of the court case.

In short, you don't make a coherent argument here. Steve Jobs may well be, among other things, a flaming asshole. So what? It's not relevant. And yes, the appeals court may overturn the original finding. Good. Let the courts do their work.


Do you understand the point of discussing Apple's actions? It appears not, as you think we should all wait for the courts to settle the case before we venture forth with an opinion. How very weird.

Feel free to cite all the journalists Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Sun, Corel, Red Hat, etc. are suing, just like Apple. Your specious attempt to deny that Apple is acting alone here just makes you look like more of a preposterous Apple zombie who waits for Steve Jobs to tell him what to think. But if you want to be the clown in this discussion...


But if you want to be the clown in this discussion...

Udolpho, is name-calling all you have left?

I will grant that Apple is, as far as I know, the only major tech company involved in a case like this, but I could be wrong. If it's true, how could it be explained? Well, for starters, how many websites analagous to ThinkSecret can you name that cover "Microsoft, Intel, IBM, Sun, Corel, Red Hat, etc."? Personally, I don't know of any, but that could just be my ignorance. In general, however, it seems to me that Apple--love 'em or hate 'em--is unique among high tech companies. So the fact that they find themselves in a unique situation, legally, doesn't seem as inexplicable to me as it does to you.

You can have an opinion, and I can have mine. But if you just want to rant and call names and have hissy fits when you get called on what you say, go find a schoolyard. I've tried to make a reasoned case, but I don't see you holding up your end of the conversation. Ciao.

Dan Gillmor

Folks, I won't let this site degenerate into name calling. Please be personally respectful or I'll start deleting comments.


What point have you made exactly? That Apple is "unique"? Well, that was my point, as it happens--despite the existence of thousands of sites that speculate about future products and traffic in rumors about them, these other companies just never try to use lawyers to bully their own fans. Apple does, routinely.

You've made no substantive remarks. You don't really even defend the notion that posting rumors about what is going to be announced at *next week's* tradeshow is a "trade secret". And how about Apple's lawsuit seeking damages against ThinkSecret? Opinion? Or is it just swell because it's Apple?


A couple facts to try and steer this toward reality:

1. Apple is NOT suing TS. They are suing 25 "John Doe" individuals.
2. Apple Subpoenaed the email records (at nFox) of TS to try and find out the leaker's info.
3. nFox has not objected to the subpoena.
4. TS Petitioned the court to stop the subpoena - they are the movant here.
5. TS tried to use the CA shield law and claimed status as journalists.
6. The judge in this case (rightly IMO) ruled that their status as journalists was not in question - it just happened to be the only argument they brought to the party.
7. According to the text of the ruling, the info leaked by TS was contained on slides that CLEARLY labeled them as Confidential/Secret. These included a rendering of a proposed industrial design, and this is for a product that has yet to see the light of day. It's actually quite possible that at this stage "Asteroid" never will see the light of day because of this case. In any case the judge agreed that it was a trade secret issue. TS never made any argument that this info was not a trade secret, or at least none that held any sway or had any evidence or precedent behind it.

OK, that out of the way:

If (as the judge found) the information was a trade secret, then it's publication violated the UTSA.
If it violated that law, it could still be published and protected by the "shield" law, but only if it's publication were actually in the public interest (not just of interest to the public) so don't go shooting off about how this could squelch leaks about the next "Enron" or "big tobacco" situation. That's what the law is there to codify. Journalists (and I don't give a fig who you call one) are protected by this law - but not for any little thing they want to publish. This info does NOT fill that bill - as many have argued on the other side of this issue, this is not earth shattering stuff (as far as the public interest is concerned) No one (except Apple's competitors will be harmed by this remaining secret.

It's not "dodging" the issue to call it immaterial, just because one side of a case wants to make the argument about "journalism" doesn't mean it is. Status as a journalist is a red herring in this case. Please actually read the judgment for yourself. I've linked it from my name.


Apple is suing ThinkSecret in a separate action. Try to keep up.

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