Originally Posted by solipsism
Originally Posted by hmurchison
It is certainly a gray area here. You've encapsulated the two main issues that will come to bear and decide the case.
1. Does Gawker Media/Gizmodo have journalistic protection
2. Can it be proven that they knew the item was stolen.
I"m glad to see there is some objective posters chiming in on this. Too many emotional responses on this topic. I was eating alive yesterday for suggesting what you said.
On number 1, I don't think so. There is no public good they are protecting. By their on publishing, they were party to a felony. They could have protected themselves by having the "seller" do the reveal and send videos and pictures and by not taking possession of the property, but once they took possession of the property - real live equipment, not information - they crossed the line into perpetuating a crime. Not only that, they knowingly disassembled someone else's property and revealed their trade secrets. The chassis design was a trade secret. If they had the seller do the reveal, they are reporting the news. When they did it, they were making up the news and partaking in a felony. All they needed to do was pay the seller fees for exclusive video and pictures.
Nevermind that since the seller shopped the phone to Engadget after selling it to Gizmodo, the seller would have set up a bidding war for it. How do you think Engadget published those pictures first? The seller was trying to make more money by emailing photos to engadget, even though the seller didn't have it anymore!
On number 2, yes they knew it was an iPhone prototype and that it wasn't being sold to them by Apple. This is Gizmodo, one of the two most highly trafficked gadget sites on the Internet. They see gazillions of gadgets everyday and are intimate with the ways of Apple and the gadget industry. They know what looks like a fake and what looks like the real deal. There's always a shred of doubt about things, but taking that route of defense takes reasonableness out the door and chopping its head off.
The iPhone prototype was encased in a custom made case to disguise it as an iPhone 3GS + form fitting case. It was a perfectly made case that fit the iPhone prototype exactly. The iPhone prototype has Apple unique identification (prototype stickers, trademarks, fonts) and Apple unique design language (fit and finish of the product). And I think, as part of the deal, what sealed the monetary exchange, was the seller revealing the name of the Apple employee the seller got it from and verification of the Apple employee's employment.
At what point in the thought train does Gizmodo think that the iPhone prototype does not belong to the seller? When the seller was offering the phone for money? (This is pretty much where they should have known the seller wasn't representing Apple and didn't own the device.) The custom made case and prototype numbering? (This is where they should have known it was an Apple device). It's an elaborate ruse that Apple is viral marketing? No, they know as well as anybody that Apple does not do that. When the seller identified the Apple employee? How did Gizmodo know that the Apple employee was a "baseband developer"? How about Gizmodo finally being convinced that the prototype belonged to Apple when they disassembled the device? This would be a laughable action.
Not sure why you guys are hesitating about this. In Gizmodo's own words as published on their website, they are party to perpetuating grand theft (subject to criminal investigation), and revealing trade secrets (subject to criminal and civil cases).
I'm sure a lot of people have their reasons to be against Gizmodo on this. It's simple for a lot of folks. Gizmodo simply didn't do the decent and ethical thing, rather, they did everything shady. People do not like it when other people do shady things. The decent thing was not taking the device apart. The decent thing was not turning on the device. The decent thing was not accepting the device, not paying money for it, and reporting the seller to the authorities.
Not a lot people seem to want the seller found. Well, I do. I want the seller found and prosecuted. People say the seller attempted to return the phone to Apple, and making a call to customer service was reasonable, yet the seller had no problems making contact with Gizmodo, making the deal with them, then shopping it to Engadget and attempting to make a deal with them. This is the story as Gizmodo and Engadget tells it. It's not reasonable to believe the seller made a reasonable attempt to return it to its owner.
Since Gizmodo perpetuated the crime, yes, they should not be protected. If they do not want to reveal the identity of the seller, they should get more penalties for it.
And we haven't even discussed the eventual, possible civil case against Gawker/Gizmodo. It's going to be a long summer.