San Jose Mercury News: Apple loses appeals court battle over leaked information. Applying strong First Amendment protections to bloggers and Web site operators, a San Jose-based appeals court today rejected Apple Computer’s bid for the identities of individuals who leaked confidential information on one of its new products.
In a 69-page ruling, the 6th District Court of Appeal broke new ground by concluding that bloggers and web masters enjoy the same protections against divulging confidential sources as established media organizations. The decision sets up a likely challenge in the California Supreme Court.
This is big and important news for bloggers and other citizen journalists. Apple’s control-freakery has been, temporarily, held up for what it is.
Disclosure: I filed (unpaid) declarations in this case, at the request of the lawyers for the Web sites, saying that in my opinion they were engaged in journalism that should be protected.
Here’s the full decision (184K pdf). Key quote:
We decline the implicit invitation to embroil ourselves in questions of what constitutes “legitimate journalis[m].” The shield law is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what petitioners did here. We can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish “legitimate” from “illegitimate” news. Any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment, which is to identify the best, most important, and most valuable ideas not by any sociological or economic formula, rule of law, or process of government, but through the rough and tumble competition of the memetic marketplace.
They get it.