Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
The Courts Government Businesses News Apple

Think Secret Gets Lawyer 371

im333mfg writes "Looks like Nick dePlume and Think Secret have gotten some much needed help for their upcoming lawsuit battle with Apple. "Terry Gross of Gross & Belsky LLP, a lawyer at the forefront of Internet law since the net's early days, will defend Mac news Web site Think Secret from a lawsuit brought by Apple Computer Inc. 'Apple's attempt to silence a small publication's news reporting presents a troubling affront to the protections of the First Amendment,' said Nick dePlume, the site's publisher and editor in chief. 'I'm grateful that Mr. Gross has stepped forward to help defend these crucial freedoms.'""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Think Secret Gets Lawyer

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Trade secrets (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 20, 2005 @05:08PM (#11424203)
    First off: ThinkGeek isn't involved, unless it be to provide electronic gadgets and caffeine to both parties.

    Second off: the first amendment has always been limited. This is one of those limited areas.
  • Why not the EFF? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saddino ( 183491 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @05:13PM (#11424265)
    From the Seattle Times []:

    Ciarelli had sought legal help from groups including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a San Francisco-based organization that Gross has represented in the past.

    The EFF declined to take Ciarelli's case.

    Given that the EFF is defending AppleInder and PowerPage [] in a similar case, the question comes to mind: why not defend ThinkSecret?

    Does anyone know?
  • Legalities ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cyberfunk2 ( 656339 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @05:14PM (#11424278)
    Here's the thing I'm wondering about.... if they can prove that think secret enticed employees under NDA to release privledged information, do they then have reason for retribution ?

    That is, is it illegal to encourage someone to break their NDA, even if YOU arent doing the breaking ?
    Wether or not ThinkSecret actually encouraged people or if they came to them with the information is of course another point of contention.
  • Trade Secrets? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) * on Thursday January 20, 2005 @05:21PM (#11424368) Homepage
    Let's engage in little critical thinking here. There may be some argument for protecting trade secrets, but I seem to recall that the last time Apple slapped down [] Think Secret was for talking about products that would be launched in a day or two.

    Given that probably thousands of people had already seen those products (the mac mini and iPod shuffle) it's a bit ridiculous to suggest that Apple suffered any damages whatsoever because of Think Secret's reporting.

    Apple is behaving like a bully - nothing more.
  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) * on Thursday January 20, 2005 @05:26PM (#11424433) Journal
    I started this petition because of the petition for Apple to drop the lawsuit against Nick Ciarelli.

    My petition isn't full of loaded emotional words that irrelevant to the matter.

    Wording and background for the petition:

    To: Apple Computer

    The following represent the level headed Mac faithful who do not appreciate Nick Ciarelli of Think Secret. We understand, by definition, that Nick was outside the bounds of the constitution and outside the limits of journalism. Rumormongering such as Think Secret publishes is harmful to Apple. We understand that "Trade Secret" is important to Apple's business model. We would like Apple to pursue this litigation to send a message to any developer, Apple employee, or industry insider, or beta tester that breach of contract [by breaking your Non Disclosure Agreement] is very serious. We also represent potential customers - we feel such litigation may ease future need for litigation against others who try to take advantage of Apple at our expense (by higher prices). Further, we represent Apple shareholders. As shareholders we believe Think Secret sets financial expectations too high by mixing credible and ficticious rumors, that stock market analysts and major news sources, quote and misquote. This is often detrimental to Apple's stock and quarterly forecasts. ,b>A comment from

    "As an Apple stockholder I do not want anyone releasing detailed information about the company's products until they are ready for market and any new innovations have patents applied for. If Apple didn't sue this individual they would be negligent and subject to lawsuit by investors."

    Most rumors sites are just that - speculators/prognosticators - manufacturers of stories. THIS - I do not see as harmful - and occasionally they are right. Other sites do rumor source by patent application.

    NO OTHER rumor site solicits information by a phone number and regularly quotes sources as "deep with inside Apple"

    NO OTHER website reports (firsthand) about the reseller lawsuit and knows the intimate details such as Think Secret

    Plain and simple. Information about Apple products acquired on the Apple campus is Apple's property. You take Steve Jobs stapler from the Apple campus and tell a friend they can have it and they obviously can see you stole it or you say, "Yeah, I swiped it when he wasn't looking" - you are in receipt of stolen property. You are an accessory to a crime.

    If you solicit and receive information that is a trade secret - that information belongs to Apple - if you choose to capitalise on that information you are an accessory to the process of theft.

    It is NO different.

    And I really wish everyone would stop saying rumormongering is journalism. Do you all have the same opinion of The Enquirer or The Weekly World? Is that journalism?

    Further, understand that this ALL hurts Apple's relations with developers. I doubt seriously if I would want to be involved with Apple if I had something they wanted or wanted me to cooperate with them on. It's too much drama.
  • Re:Why not the EFF? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by learn fast ( 824724 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @05:27PM (#11424439)

    Gross has been at the center of Internet law since the early days of the net, and served as the first counsel to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a leading advocacy and legal organization that works to defend civil liberties in the technology and electronic communications realm. In one successful case prior to popular use of the Internet, Gross, as special counsel, defended the constitutional rights of publishers to disseminate information they legally obtain, electronically or in print.

    So, he's an EFF lawyer, he's just not acting with the EFF this time... that's my reading of it.
  • by John Whitley ( 6067 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @05:44PM (#11424669) Homepage
    Apple's attempt to silence a small publication's news reporting [...]

    Maybe I'm missing something here, but I just don't get what the ruckus is about this suit. Calling the ThinkSecret publications that caused this suit "news reporting" seems disingenuous to me. Why? Because TS' model seems to be to solicit insider information from within Apple, likely in violation of both trade secret law and the hiring/IP contracts of those who leaked the information. Also, Apple's main aim in this is to find the leaks in its organization. Casting this as "Apple vs. ThinkSecret" also seems like BS, unless this is cast as some sort of yellow-journalism, David v. Goliath type of slant.

    An interesting question this suit raises is: where is the line between "news reporting" and "any random schmoe with a blog/website"? What, if any, legal protections and judicial precedents apply to "news" reporters relevant to this context?
  • by i41Overlord ( 829913 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @06:26PM (#11425224)
    He openly solicits what odds are are insider info, and odds are those are covered by NDAs, and tells the world, and in California that's a crime.

    Good thing he doesn't live in California.

    Pumping your own gas is illegal where I live in New Jersey, yet I pump it all the time near work in Pennsylvania. If the incident did not happen in the state in which it is a crime, then it isn't a crime, and you're not held accountable for it in that state.
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Thursday January 20, 2005 @06:48PM (#11425524)
    You're missing something here.

    And that something is the laws that may make Nick Ciarelli's actions illegal.

    Whether or not you fundamentally think the laws are correct is the subject of another discussion.

    Nick Ciarelli may be in violation of laws that prohibit knowingly disclosing information that was obtained as a result of a breach of a confidentiality agreement by any party to the chain of information. It can be argued that Nick KNOWS this information is confidential. How or if any of these laws can be applied in this case remains to be seen.

    If Apple's goal is to find out who leaked this information - indeed, if it considers that information critical to its business - and there is a legal mechanism for perhaps recovering that information, is it not within its rights to file suit seeking that information, especially when criminal and/or civil laws pertinent to that very information may have been violated? You might THINK they should hire a private detective. You might THINK any laws prohibiting Nick from revealing such information are incorrect, immoral, or unjust. But those are subjects not relevant to the case at hand, unless, of course, you believe Nick's challenge is a fundamental challenge of these laws.

    I'm not talking philosophy here, or whether or not government officials can/should leak to the press. I'm talking about the legality of this particular case, not issues of "throwing reporters in jail" to "reveal sources". Note that under some conditions, journalists HAVE, in fact, violated the law, and have, properly, been thrown in jail. The concept of not revealing confidential sources isn't some high and mighty ethical concept; in fact, it's a rather selfish one: at some level, it ensures them more sources in the future. It makes them more effective as a journalist. Whether they've got lofty ideals or what have you is again irrelevant. The point is, we either enforce rule of law as set by society in this country, or we don't. And yes, we can work to change law(s), protest against them, and use the legal system as a backdrop for that fight.

    But that doesn't change the fact that the laws are in force in the interim, and that persons, corporations, and other entities within the system will use the law to their advantage.
  • by Shannon Love ( 705240 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @07:05PM (#11425707) Homepage

    In the internet age who is a journalist? Everybody is a potential journalist. Who is a public figure? Could be anybody. Is Cowboy Neil a public figure? He is on slashdot. What is newsworthy? Is any company information "newsworthy?" How about the product plans of small software company comprised of two guys in a garage? Can the guy they hire to do their product web page freely sell their information to anybody else on the entire web?

    "how different is Nick dePlume's journalism from what Woodward and Bernstein were doing to uncover Watergate?"

    Woodward et al were uncovering political corruption and outright crimes. Nick de Plume is providing entertainment for money. His fencing of stolen information helps no one but himself. Nobody is going to die if they don't know what Apple's hot new thing is a week before they announce it.

    The very triviality of the information stolen makes it more not less important that the legal restrictions be enforced. Once we create an environment where people with access to private data can steal it without consequence it will inevitably lead to gross violations of individual privacy.

  • Personal View (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LoonieMiami ( 844611 ) on Thursday January 20, 2005 @07:21PM (#11425853) Homepage
    I like free software and all, and I'm a mac user as well, but sometimes i think people ae not really that fair. Why? because I've seen people agree with some issues only when it's convenient to them. What I'm trying to say is that, c'mon, Apple is only protecting their interests. I mean, suppose you had a company that was about to announce some big product and some idiot decided to tell everybody before you made your announcement. I mean, really, would you really like someone else spoiling your surprise? These days everything revolves around corporate image. Now, by this guy spilling the beans about new products does indeed affect Apple. It's just like in war, the surprise factor accounts for a big part of your strategy. Now, I do appreciate sites like ThinkSecret just because I'm another geek, so I like fresh info. But think about it, if you were about to release a product you have worked on long and hard, you would be pissed too @ those who reveal your surprise. Not to make it trivial, but think about when you're telling a good joke and someone spoils it. You just want to slap them silly. So, it's Apple slapping them silly for ruining a nice surprise. Imagine the impact the Mac mini would've had if we knew nothing about it. Instead, we just went "ok, here we go, the mini" Not that I agree with all their policies, but give them a break already. They're making M$ sweat, so in my book they're good people :)
  • Re:Trade secrets (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 21, 2005 @02:53AM (#11429266)
    First, many states have laws against revealing information that you know is a trade secret without permission from the owner of the secret. Next Apple has a pretty iron-clad case that "John Doe" broke the contractual NDA.

    Coming from Sweden I must say you guys amaze me. You put the right to bare arms in your constitution. We put the right of a journalist not to have to reveal his sources in the constitution. Come to think of it it's actually a bit stronger. It's a crime to investigate the sources of a journalist. (There is one exception, the justice ombudsman can investigate but only under a very strict set of circumstances, one being when investigating the crime of high treason. This has never happened).

    How the hell do you ever think you'll keep your corporations and public officials under scrutiny if you're not allowed a (truly) free press? That Apple can't get its employees to shut up, and sees its "secrets" in the press, is a side effect you're just having to learn to live with. And no amount of guns in private hands will do one iota to affect this issue.

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.