Apple has agreed to drop its lawsuit against Think Secret, a website that specializes in publishing in-house Apple rumors and leaks. In return, Think Secret has agreed to stop existing. However, this means the editor also gets to protect his sources. [Think Secret via Gizmodo]


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  1. Buran says:

    How much of a win is it, really, for a free press when the “free” press has to stop publishing if it wants to protect its sources? (In your answer, consider other situations in addition to this one, such as a whistleblower exposing government abuses in the NY Times).

  2. spinachdip says:

    @Buran: It’s a little more complicated, and I’m not sure there’s the chilling effect that pro-free press people (including me!) like to talk about.

    Under California law, divulging corporate secret is a crime. So unlike a reporter talking to a drug dealer about his past crime, Think Secret was an accomplice in the crime. It’s the same reason a journalistic shield law wouldn’t have protected Judith Miller in the Valerie Plame case – they weren’t talking about a crime, the talking itself was the crime.

  3. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Yeah, I have to agree with Spinachdip. This isn’t much of a case about free speech/press. It’s about an insider (at Apple or at a partner company) disclosing trade secrets to ThinkSecret. And I’m fairly certain that the insider signed a non disclosure as a condition of employment.

    It’s too bad. ThinkSecret is/was very pro-Apple. It was basically free publicity for Apple and their products. I wonder how Apple fans feel about Apple becoming such a corporate overlord lately.

  4. swalve says:

    @Buran: It’s all about choices. Think Secret chose to protect his source over his website, in exchange for not getting sued. He could have easily gone the other way. And continued getting sued.

    Remember that the Buran account is on BugMeNot, so it’s not (necessarily) the same person from post to post.

  5. spinachdip says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: I’m channeling John Gruber over at Daring Fireball here, but the rumor sites aren’t necessarily helpful to Apple.

    Yes, they do help build buzz, but people are going to speculate on Apple’s next move with or without these sites. What the rumor sites do sometimes, is set up unreasonable expectations. So conceivably, they could introduce a killer app, but still disappoint because they didn’t deliver on what the rumors promised, and that’s not so good for their stock.

    I think Apple is well aware that this type of stuff alienates their core followers, and they go out of their way to keep the fans happy (see: iPhone rebate). So when they seem to be bullying little guys, I imagine they have their reasons.

  6. spinachdip says:

    @swalve: That’s kinda annoying. Defeats the whole purpose of comment-by-invitation. The signal-to-noise ratio on this site’s pretty poor as it is.

  7. goodkitty says:

    It’s official: Apple is evil. The sad thing is I think you can even see Google going there too. Nothing is sacred when money is involved.

  8. Buran says:

    @swalve: Huh? I guarantee my account isn’t available for anyone else to log into. Good luck breaking my strong unique-by-site password.

  9. Buran says:

    @spinachdip: He’s talking out his ass. My account is mine and mine alone.

  10. Buran says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: How exactly are they going to prove that the info is coming from someone who signed an NDA? They don’t know who is providing it, so they can’t prove that there was an actual crime committed.

  11. Dr.Ph0bius says:

    @goodkitty: Thats kind of a stretch. People working for Apple (and their suppliers) and under non-disclosure agreements. I dont understand why anyone thinks we have a RIGHT to know what goes on in the boardrooms at Apple or in their R&D. Corporate espionage is a multi-billion dollar industry (DuPont just had an incident that is estimated to cost them around $400 million), and what you or I read and say “cool” too is something that a competitor may use to majorly financially impact a company.