A California appeals court has smacked down Apple’s legal assault on bloggers and their sources, finding that the company’s efforts to subpoena e-mail received by the publishers of Apple Insider and PowerPage.org runs contrary to federal law, California’s reporter’s shield law, and the state Constitution.
Apple had also claimed that the inside information “could have been obtained only through a breach of an Apple confidentiality agreement.” The company argued that even if the bloggers were journalists, there’s no protection for anonymous sources who have committed the crime of trade secret theft. —Apple Loses Bid to Unmask Bloggers’ Sources (Wired Blogs 27B Stroke 6)
This is good news for bloggers, since Apple’s case hinged on the claim that bloggers aren’t really journalists, and thus aren’t entitled to the legal protections that enable journalists to carry out their jobs.
While duscussing This Blog Will Self Destruct, Will has wondered about professors who get special treatment that employees outside the academy don’t get, while Eric has reported frustration that an employee who doesn’t enjoy that kind of protection risks losing his or her job if the boss doesn’t like what the employee posts in a lifestyle blog.
Here’s another instance of a class of writers with special rights.
Apple can’t just fire these bloggers, because in this case Apple was complaining about news that appeared on websites that cover Apple products. If this were a case of Apple employees writing about Apple, even if they were doing it on their own time, Apple would have been able to discipline them.