Originally Posted by Tulkas
While I don't think that Chen requesting a formal letter requesting the phone back was legally any more damning than the rest of the episode, it was a dick move to make during a call from Jobs asking for the phone back. Very likely, if he had simply said OK and returned it, this would have all been forgotten. Getting on Jobs bad side is a good way to have a bad day.
No it wouldn't. Because this isn't a civil issue brought about by Apple.
It is a criminal issue. And the action was taken by the DA.
In California the law clearly says if you find a lost object and don't make a true effort to return it, you stole it. According to the Gizmodo articles, a half assed at best effort was made, likely utilizing a method no one actually believed would work. On top of not merely leaving it at the bar with or without sending a facebook message (since the guy says he knew whose phone it was because it was logged into the service). Gizmodo then knowingly paid money for something that wasn't this man's to sell, at a level that makes the offense a felony. Admitted to the purchase and the amount publicly etc. They latter tried to recant and say the money was for merely the story but they had already published articles saying they purchased the phone full stop.
And after the Valleywag stunt it should be no shock if it turns out that the DA and this task force have been watching all of Gawker closely and captured every article as it came out as proof of what was said. The raid is merely to see if there's additional confirmation like Chen telling the guy to call AppleCare, the phrasing of the deal being "to buy the phone unit" etc. And to see what else might have been said.
In the end, Gizmodo got stupid and did this to themselves. They can't claim shield laws because it is a confessed criminal act. What they should have done was taken the photos and video with no voices, faces etc attached and posted them as 'provided by a reliable source'. THEN they could make a claim for shield laws.
Now at the least they put their rep and the rep of their parent company at risk. Apple is not likely to provide them with any review materials and might ban them from all media events. Other companies might follow suit, at least in regards to pulling ads etc from Gawker sites. And that could hurt more than any criminal penalties or civil suits.