Thursday, January 27, 2005

¿Qué pasa con Apple?

Ahora es corporativo y ha olvidado su pasado revolucionario.

Sus intentos de denunciar un blogger es un paso peligroso y seguro que muy interesante para otras empresas que quieren callarnos.

Necesitamos seguir este juicio con atención. ¡Apple nos ha defraudado!

Ver artículo del Financial Times, o ver el texto siguiente, los dos en inglés:

Apple bites back in battle to keep bloggers in checkBy Patti Waldmeir
Published: January 26 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 26 2005 02:00

Time magazine declared 2004 the "year of the blog". Will 2005 be the year when blogs are tamed, in court?

In other areas of the internet, thelaw is slowly catching up with technology. But web logs or blogs have so far operated mostly outside the law, legal experts say. Now Apple, the alternative computer maker, has decided to test the freedom of the blogosphere by suing the operator of one of the company's most influential fan sites.

The case will test the limits of free speech in the digital era and the rights of companies to keep secrets in a world in which technology makes it harder to hide anything from public view.

Apple is suing Nick Ciarelli, 19, or Nick "dePlume" as he is known on his website,, for revealing details of Apple products before they are launched. Mr Ciarelli, a Mac fan who started his website at 13, regularly publishes "scoops" on Apple products.

He broke the story that Apple was about to release a Mac priced at under $500 (€383), as it did this month. He even told the world, back in 2001, about a new digital music player a week before Apple released the iPod.

Mr Ciarelli's website invites insider information with a box on its home page labelled "Got Dirt?". Tipsters are invited to send anonymous e-mails or voicemails.

Apple claims in its lawsuit, which was filed this month in California, that this is part of a plan to "misappropriate and disseminate Apple trade secrets".

Mr Ciarelli's lawyer says he has done nothing wrong; as a blogger, he has every right to publish information leaked to him as long as it is obtained lawfully. And as a journalist, he cannot be forced to reveal his confidential sources, says Terry Gross, of the law firm Gross & Belsky, who is defending Mr Ciarelli for free.

The case raises many questions, most importantly: who is a journalist in cyberspace? In a world where technology can make anyone a publisher, should every blogger qualify for constitutional protection under the first amendment to the US constitution that guarantees freedom of the press?

A recent survey said some 8m Americans have their own blog and 32m said they read blogs, which range from individual rants about home or office life to highly specialised journals.

Mike Godwin, legal director of Public Knowledge, which backs freedom of information in the digital world, says bloggers are exactly the kind of journalists the constitution was written to protect.

"When the first amendment was crafted, it was understood that freedom of the press just as much as freedom of speech belonged to everybody," he says. Bloggers are the 21st century's "lowly pamphleteers".

Eugene Volokh, a free speech expert at UCLA law school, who has his own legal blog, says courts cannot favour traditional media over upstarts. "The rules should be the same for old media and new, professional and amateur."

But Apple, which has a reputation for secrecy, says in its lawsuit that the free speech guarantees in the US and Californian constitutions "do not extend to defendants' unlawful practice of misappropriating and disseminating trade secrets acquired through deliberate violation of known duties of confidentiality".

Apple says all its employees are bound by confidentiality agreements. The company contends Mr Ciarelli knows the information he posts is only available from people who have breached their legal obligations. That makes him guilty of misappropriating trade secrets.

But Mr Gross says the suit is baseless. He points out that the first amendment is not absolute: courts must balance its protections against the interests of the other side. But in this case, there is no contest. "The first amendment wins against the interest of a company or individual in keeping things private."

Mr Volokh says the Californian constitution, which has stronger protection for journalists than the federal version, may well protect Mr Ciarelli. "But it's not an open and shut case," he says. That provision of the constitution was written before blogs were dreamed of. Will a court today rule it applies to the web, he asks.

Paul Grabowicz, director at the University of California at Berkeley's graduate school of journalism, says he worries the Apple suit "could open the door to lots of companies trying to control or stop the flow of information about their corporate products". Companies would not have to win in court to intimidate a blogger, he says. Merely filing suit might be enough, since the cost of defending it could bankrupt an individual.

He says the Apple suit is a sign that blogging has finally arrived in the mainstream consciousness. "Blogs have established themselves to the point where they are now on the radar screen." And for the rest of 2005 at least, legal experts say, they are likely to stay there.


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