Apple won't appeal case against online journalists

Apple Computer will not appeal a decision that favored the reporters of two Internet Web sites to obtain communications of allegedly leaked information. The Electronic Frontier Foundation confirmed in court documents on Wednesday that Apple would not pursue the case.

Apple sought to obtain communication between unnamed sources that allegedly leaked information to two Internet sites. On May 26, 2006 the judge in the State of California Court of Appeal 6th Appellate District agreed with lawyers for PowerPage and AppleInsider who argued that the confidentiality of sources for the online journalists were protected by the First Amendment.

Apple sued several unnamed individuals, referred to in court proceedings as “Does,” for leaking information about an upcoming product code-named “Asteroid” to the online news site PowerPage. To discover the identities of the Does, Apple subpoenaed PowerPage publisher Jason O’Grady’s ISP Nfox, demanding that the ISP turn over the communications and unpublished materials relating to the leak so as to reveal his sources.

The trial court ruled that when a journalist publishes information a company claims to be a trade secret, this nullifies any constitutional protections for the journalist’s confidential sources enjoyed. The case has raised issues of what, exactly, constitutes a journalist, and whether or not a company’s right to protect its trade secrets outweigh first amendment protections.

Today’s filings effectively put an end to the case.

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