Apple Computer has lost out in a California appeals court ruling in its attempt to force some online news sites to disclose where it received confidential information about some of its products, reports San Jose Mercury News reporter Howard Mintz.
Mintz writes, “In a 69-page ruling, the San Jose-based 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. Civil liberties groups and journalism organizations have argued that online journalists need to protect the confidentiality of sources just as much as traditional media, such as the New York Times and CNN.
“Journalists covet the ability to protect the identity of sources as a key to gathering news. The appeals court’s firm endorsement of journalistic shields for online media sets up what could be a crucial First Amendment showdown in the California Supreme Court if Apple continues to press its case.
“Apple triggered the closely watched case two years ago when the company went to court to pry loose the identities of individuals who leaked internal company documents on a new product called ‘Asteroid” to three Web pages devoted to Apple-related news. Among other things, the plans for Asteroid, including an exact drawing of the yet-to-be released digital music device, were posted on a Web site called PowerPage, operated by Pennsylvania blogger Jason O’Grady.
“Apple has argued that it is entitled to the identities of the bloggers’ sources in order to protect its trade secrets and punish anybody who stole and distributed them. A Santa Clara County judge sided with Apple last year, but the appeals court overturned that decision Friday.”
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