Apple VS Bloggers As Journalists

Apr 26th, 2010 | By | Category: Citizen Media, iPhone

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know about Gizmodo‘s stolen-phone scoop on the 4th generation Apple iPhone.

Gizmodo paid an unnamed source $5,000 for the stolen phone, and, in exchange, got the biggest Apple scoop in many years.

They found that the new Apple iPhone features:

  • Front-facing video chat camera
  • Improved regular back-camera (the lens is quite noticeably larger than the iPhone 3GS)
  • Camera flash
  • Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM (like the iPad)
  • An improved display.
  • Split buttons for volume
  • Power, mute, and volume buttons are all metallic
  • Larger battery

It’s a huge story for Gizmodo – but a bigger story, for people involved in new media – is the aftermath.

Apple VS Bloggers As Journalists

California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen’s house Friday and seized his computers. The People of the State of California authorized a search warrant and seizure of Chen’s computer systems, on the grounds that the computers were evidence in a felony crime.

4 computers and two servers were seized from Chen’s house.

Gawker Media, publisher of Gizmodo, has formally protested the search of Chen’s house and the seizure of Chen’s equipment, on the grounds that Chen is a journalist and journalists are legally protected in California:

A publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service, or any person who has been so connected or employed, cannot be adjudged in contempt by a judicial, legislative, administrative body, or any other body having the power to issue subpoenas, for refusing to disclose, in any proceeding as defined in Section 901, the source of any information procured while so connected or employed for publication in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, or for refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.

This case isn’t as simple as Apple vs bloggers as journalists:

  • While the law protects journalists and publishers that refuse to disclose their sources – Gizmodo blurred their role by paying for the phone. arguably a knowing purchase of stolen property.
  • Gizmodo disassembled the phone and published the details – and Apple has a history of suing bloggers that reveal trade secrets.

Gizmodo’s no stranger to sleaze – and Apple’s no friend to bloggers – so it will be very interesting to see how this case pans out.

What do you think? Should Gizmodo be protected because they’re journalists doing their job – or do you think they should go to jail for buying stolen goods and giving bloggers a bad name?

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2 Responses to “Apple VS Bloggers As Journalists”

  1. Zimmie says:

    I personally think that they bought the device with the belief that it was real and that since they did no checking whatsoever to verify the seller’s story that he tried to return it, that they knowingly purchased stolen property.

    I also find it fascinating that Gizmodo are arguing that bloggers are journalists, while the state of California is arguing that this particular person committed a felony himself. Shield laws have *never* protected a journalist being accused of a crime directly.

  2. rob chinn says:

    I do believe that journalists should be protected, but they should be held responsible when they commit a crime. Gizmodo/Chen should be punished for buying stolen property and revealing trade secrets. Apple and their investors have potentially lost millions, or hundreds of millions, in competitive advantages due to this leaking up to a month before the phone is announced. This gives all of their competitors a lot more time to come up with products to compete with the iPhone, and gives Chinese knock-off companies time to do the same.

    There’s also that little matter of essentially black mailing Apple requiring an official letter before they would return the stolen phone.

    Plus, I think Gizmodo deserves a good swift kick in the balls for revealing the Apple engineers name who lost the phone. They did it just so people would believe they had the real thing. That’s just not cool.

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