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Judge Rules Against Bloggers And For Apple

Steve Rubel
Expert Author
Published: 2005-03-11

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AP: A judge on Friday ordered three citizen journalists to divulge confidential sources in a lawsuit brought by Apple, narrowly interpreting who is a journalist and thereby entitled to First Amendment protections.

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The bloggers allegedly published product descriptions that Apple said employees had leaked in violation of nondisclosure agreements and possibly the U.S. Trade Secrets Act.

The ruling concerned free speech advocates, who insisted that the people who write for Apple enthusiast sites should enjoy the same legal protections as reporters for mainstream publications. Among those are protections afforded under California's "shield" law, which is meant to encourage the publication of information in the public's interest.

Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg disagreed, ruling that no one has the right to publish information that could have been provided only by someone breaking the law.

"The rumor and opinion mills may continue to run at full speed," Kleinberg wrote in the 13-page ruling. "What underlies this decision is the publishing of information that at this early stage of the litigation fits squarely within the definition of trade secret.


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About the Author:
Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.

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