Update: Here’s a good legal analysis from the Citizen Media Law Project.
So some drunk fool working for Apple leaves behind an unreleased model of a future generation iPhone at a bar, only for it to wind up in the hands of a technology journalist who described it in detail in a Gizmodo article.
Next thing you know, a judge in California is signing a search warrant allowing cops to raid the writer’s home, seizing four computers and two servers.
Now Gawker, the company that owns Gizmodo, is accusing authorities of violating state laws that supposedly protect journalists from such raids.
Section 1070 of the California Evidence Code protects journalists from forcing journalists to reveal their sources.
And California Penal Code 1524 allows search warrants to be granted when stolen property is involved.
But was the iPhone in question actually ever stolen?
Nobody is disputing that iPhone employee Gray Powell inadvertently left the phone behind in a Silicon Valley bar.
And the person who found it supposedly made an attempt to return the phone to iPhone only for them to ignore him.
Gizmodo eventually paid $5,000 for the phone and allowed editor Jason Chen to dismantle the phone where he described it in detail.
And when Apple began raising hell about their lost phone, Gizmodo returned it to them.
So if Apple really wanted to pursue charges against Gizmodo, did the police really have to raid Chen’s home?
Didn’t they already have enough evidence from his own article?
Some writers are wondering if this case will determine exactly who is a journalist and who is a blogger.
That shouldn’t even be an issue here because Gizmodo provides continuous news content of the tech industry, sometimes even scooping the competition.
In fact, in 2007, Apple CEO Steve Jobs told Gizmodo that it was his favorite gadget blog.
But, of course, that was before Gizmodo wrote its article on the lost iPhone.
The real question here is why would a judge grant a search warrant without conducting further research into the matter?
But then again, judges throughout the country have been handing out search warrants as if the Fourth Amendment, which protects us from unreasonable search and seizures, never existed.