Sunday, March 06, 2005

Unsweetened Apple Sauce

As predicted, Apple is getting pounded in the press (and the blogosphere) for their lawsuits against three websites. At last count there were 173 related news articles today on Google News. Here is a small sampler:

Martin Stabe
Dan Gillmor
New York Times
San Francisco Chronicle
Kansas City Star

There is nothing wrong with Apple trying to protect its trade secrets. It is the way they are going about it that is questionable. They should deal with employee confidentiality issues internally. Instead, Apple will kill the messenger in an effort scare their employees from further revealing confidential product information. Apple's corporate attorneys know it is easy to intimidate young inexperienced website owners with expensive lawsuits. But they may have miscalculated the price themselves.

Things have gotten out of hand for Apple with the judge declaring that the websites in question are not "legitimate press". The thing is that limiting legal protection to "legitimate" journalists is an old way of controlling the press. It is a common practice in nasty one-party states.

Countries can set up registries and accreditation schemes for the press, which come in handy when pesky journalists start prying too deep into corporate or government matters. Journalists may loose their accreditation/liscense and investigations into corruption and other unsavoury affairs are suddenly shut down. The consequences of this go far beyond anything Apple could ever possibly want to protect and their good image will suffer for it. Even if they win their case.

Even Steve Wozniak, one of Apple's founders, is unhappy that Apple is going down this path and is actually donating money to help the cause of one defendant in Canada.


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