Jason Chen's (Gizmodo Editor) Computers Seized

JusSumguy

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From "Daring Fireball"

It’s the Theft and Purchase of the Unit, Not the Publication of Photos and Information Really dumb piece by Tim Wu at Slate on the Gizmodo/iPhone saga. Wu writes:
Apple has indicated it believes a serious felony was committed. The company appears to regard Gizmodo’s acts as larceny, or misappropriation of trade secrets, or both. Here is where the case gets serious: If we accept that journalists can be punished severely for publishing information gained by others in unsavory ways, that’s a bad thing for journalism. Nearly every truly big story, from the al-Qaida photos on down, involves a leaker of some kind, often one who has broken some law. If the publishers of such materials—as opposed to the leakers—are treated as criminals, journalism will suffer.
If you agree with that, read the following sentence slowly, so it sinks in. Gizmodo isn’t being “punished severely for publishing information gained by others in unsavory ways”; they are being investigated by law enforcement for committing a felony themselves.
Note that Engadget “published information gained by others in unsavory ways” — they ran a photograph and a description of the phone (including revealing the front-facing camera) two days before Gizmodo. The photo and description came from the sources who took the phone from the bar and eventually sold it to Gizmodo. Yet Engadget is not in any trouble at all.
Gizmodo isn’t in trouble for spoiling Apple’s secret; they’re in trouble for breaking the law.
Wu writes:
But Gizmodo, for one thing, says it wants to give the telephone back, and so it may lack any intent to possess the phone permanently. That matters, legally speaking.
No, it doesn’t matter, legally speaking. When you borrow someone else’s property without permission, that’s called theft.

Author: John Gruber
Source: CLICK
Copyright: daringfireball.org




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psylichon

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I did. I watch Jon every night, and most of the time he is on fire. As much as I wanted to, however, I just didn't think that bit was overly funny... for him. He could have done so much more with it. Just my opinion.
 

styfle

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I did. I watch Jon every night, and most of the time he is on fire. As much as I wanted to, however, I just didn't think that bit was overly funny... for him. He could have done so much more with it. Just my opinion.
I don't think he was doing it to be funny...
 

JusSumguy

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I stand not alone...

"Apple - you guys were the rebels, man, the underdogs. People believed in you. But now, are you becoming the man? Remember back in 1984, you had those awesome ads about overthrowing Big Brother? Look in the mirror, man! …It wasn't supposed to be this way - Microsoft was supposed to be the evil one! But you guys are busting down doors in Palo Alto while Commandant Gates is ridding the world of mosquitoes! What the **** is going on?!"

Sound familiar?


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sdge

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I think there are 2 major issues here.

1. If you find something and take it is that considered stealing it?

2. When does the law view someone as 'journalist' and when is that person just called a 'blogger'? Is a blogger a journalist?

For 1, I'm not really sure what to consider stealing... If I find a comb on the ground and then take it, and not give a "reasonable" attempt at returning it... is that stealing? Most would say no. What if I'm in a park, and someone leaves their bag at a bench and goes to the bathroom, and then I "find" that bag... is that stealing? Most would say yes.

For 2, what makes a journalist different from a professional blogger? The journalist's words get printed?
 

Eninety2

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I think there are 2 major issues here.

1. If you find something and take it is that considered stealing it?

2. When does the law view someone as 'journalist' and when is that person just called a 'blogger'? Is a blogger a journalist?

For 1, I'm not really sure what to consider stealing... If I find a comb on the ground and then take it, and not give a "reasonable" attempt at returning it... is that stealing? Most would say no. What if I'm in a park, and someone leaves their bag at a bench and goes to the bathroom, and then I "find" that bag... is that stealing? Most would say yes.

For 2, what makes a journalist different from a professional blogger? The journalist's words get printed?
Depends on how fast you start walking to your car before she gets out of the bathroom.
 

acosmichippo

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I think there are 2 major issues here.

1. If you find something and take it is that considered stealing it?

2. When does the law view someone as 'journalist' and when is that person just called a 'blogger'? Is a blogger a journalist?

For 1, I'm not really sure what to consider stealing... If I find a comb on the ground and then take it, and not give a "reasonable" attempt at returning it... is that stealing? Most would say no. What if I'm in a park, and someone leaves their bag at a bench and goes to the bathroom, and then I "find" that bag... is that stealing? Most would say yes.

For 2, what makes a journalist different from a professional blogger? The journalist's words get printed?
1) if you find a comb and take it just like that, yes, it's stealing. But with a comb, you don't have very much info with which to find the owner. There aren't many reasonable things you can do to find who may have lost it. A phone is quite different in this respect.

2) I'm not sure how the law qualifies a "journalist", but I'm inclined to say if you make your living writing articles, then you're a journalist. So Chen would qualify with this description. Problem is the whole shield law thing is irrelevant here. The shield law protects journalists from being sued to reveal their sources, which is a civil action. Gizmodo is being accused of buying stolen property, which is a criminal -not civil- offense. This is not protected by the shield law.
 
As I posted previously, I think #2 was addressed in the link in the first post where it was mentioned that the California Court of Appeals has recognized that protections apply to online journalists (O'Grady v. Superior Court 2006). But Hippo hit the nail on the head, the shield law doesn't apply to this type of action.