A landmark case

By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2005-03-11 Print this article Print

The case is landmark in that it was the first in which a court heard arguments that online reporters confidential sources and unpublished materials are protected by both the reporters shield in the California constitution and the reporters privilege under the federal First Amendment. Kleinberg cited various statutes—Integral Dev. Corp. v. Weissenbach and Magnecomp Corp. v. Athene Co.—saying that they "support the compelling interest of disclosure which may, in the proper civil case, outweigh First Amendment rights."
According to Cohn, Apple tried to paint the journalists as "at-home journalists working in their pajamas."
But PowerPage receives some 300,000 hits per month, giving it a larger audience than most hometown newspapers, Cohn pointed out. Regardless, whether the journalists are "legitimate" or not did not pertain in the ruling. The court did not restrict the ruling to online journalists, instead deciding that all journalists could be required to reveal confidential sources when a claim of trade secret is raised. Read more here about Judge James Kleinbergs tentative ruling that three Mac rumor sites cannot seek protection under journalist shield laws. The EFF will ask the California Appellate Court to intervene, petitioning for a Writ of Mandate, which will likely be filed next week, Cohn said. In the meantime, the EFF is talking with journalist organizations in a quest for amicus briefs. Already, media outlets such as the San Jose Mercury News have published editorials decrying Apples heavy-handedness. (This link requires free registration.) It is all in keeping with Apples traditional cloak-and-dagger approach to product releases. In late 2002, for example, the company sued a contractor who had left the company after he posted information about yet-unreleased Power Macintosh G4 desktop models. Apple did not return calls requesting comment by the time this article was published. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about Apple in the enterprise. And for insights on Macintosh coverage around the Web, check out eWEEK.com Executive Editor Matthew Rothenbergs Weblog.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for eWEEK.com and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on eWEEK.com, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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