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DA decides not to bring charges against Gizmodo in iPhone 4 case

post #1 of 57
Thread Starter 
The San Mateo County district attorney's office has filed misdemeanor charges against two people involved in finding and selling an Apple iPhone 4 prototype to Gizmodo, but has decided not to bring charges against any employees of Gizmodo or its parent company, Gawker Media.

Brian Hogan, who allegedly discovered the prototype laying on a Redwood City barstool in March of last year, was charged with "misappropriation of lost property," while Sage Wallower was also charged with the same count as well as possession of stolen property.

Gawker Media allegedly paid the duo $5000 to obtain the device for an exclusive story on the new phone for its Gizmodo site just prior to its unveiling by Apple. The company publicly admitted that it had paid to obtain the prototype from a man who claimed to have found it.

In an affidavit related to the investigation, it was revealed that "Steve Jobs (Apple CEO) contacted the editor of Gizmodo.com, Brian Lam," and that "Jobs requested that Lam return the phone to Apple. Lam responded via the e-mail address [] that he would return the iPhone on the condition that Apple provided him with a letter stating the iPhone belonged to Apple."

The document further noted that "upon receiving the stolen property, [Gizmodo editor Jason] Chen disassembled the iPhone, thereby causing it to be damaged. Chen created copies of the iPhone prototype in the form of digital images and video, which were subsequently published on the Internet based magazine Gizmodo.com"

Based on the affidavit, a warrant was issued that resulted in the seizure of four computers, two servers, and iPad, iPhone, Airport Extreme base station, and external hard drives, all under probably cause that Chen's computers had been "used as the means of committing a felony." It has not been reported whether the equipment has been returned or not.

Despite Gizmodo's role in the misappropriation of Apple's lost property and its apparent possession of stolen property, which it used to taunt Apple's legal representatives for what appears to have been a period of weeks after obtaining it, Karen Guidotti, the chief deputy district attorney of San Mateo, issued a press release stating that, "after a consideration of all of the evidence, it was determined that no charges would be filed against employees of Gizmodo."

Gizmodo reported today that the district attorney "has decided, upon review of all of the evidence, that no crime was committed by the Gizmodo team in relation to its reporting on the iPhone 4 prototype last year," but no public statement made by the DA's office indicated that it believed that no crime had been committed; the press release only stated that no charges would be filed.

iPhone Press Statement 8-10-11
post #2 of 57
...all under probably cause

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post #3 of 57
So if I buy a car from someone that does not belong to them, and I know it is probably not their property when I purchase it, and then later the real owner of the car contacts me asking for it back, which would indicated the car was probably stolen, I am not guilty of possessing stolen property?

Seems like a strange ruling. I can only guess that there were some technical issues related to the evidence or how it was collected that made the DA think it would be hard to convict on the charges.
post #4 of 57
A very unsatisfying conclusion. Maybe they'll get theirs OJ-style down the road.

Would love to know what changes, if any, Apple made this time around to reduce the possibility of something like this happening to the next new iPhone.
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post #5 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

...all under probably cause

That's all you noticed? The article has more typos than that!
Use a proofreader, Dan.
post #6 of 57
No DA is going to open that can of worms. A smart move I think. Why continue to feed the annoyingly smug would-be maverick journobloggers from an organization with the gutter-level reputation of Gawker Media? It would have been a stage they would have loved to dance on, making techno-fartty noises and giggling incessantly. No, best to have inconvenienced them, and let them go their way.

Their is always a point in being taunted where the tauntee has to decide if responding is worth it, clearly it wasn't in this case. Now Apple could turn around, since the charges are dismissed and file civil suit against them, just to add insult to injury, but I don't think folks in Apple legal want to waste time with it either.

I dropped Gizmodo from my RSS feeds a long time ago, I think after their stupid tricks at one of the tech-cons they endlessly giggled about. Arrested adolescence doesn't build a reputation as a serious journalistic attempt no matter how you spin it. Besides, I have engadget to provide that if I need a dose of general snarkiness.
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post #7 of 57
... and in the end... millions and millions sold... hope they got their 5000 bucks worth out of it!
Hmmmmmm...
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Hmmmmmm...
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post #8 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Would love to know what changes, if any, Apple made this time around to reduce the possibility of something like this happening to the next new iPhone.

They probably aren't allowing people to foolishly bring them to bars, I can tell you that much.
post #9 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMacintosh View Post

They probably aren't allowing people to foolishly bring them to bars, I can tell you that much.

The guy who lost it now scrubs toilets at Apple HQ and wears a t-shirt that says: "I used to be an engineer until I got drunk and lost a prototype in a bar.".
Hmmmmmm...
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Hmmmmmm...
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post #10 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The San Mateo County district attorney's office has filed misdemeanor charges against two people involved in finding and selling an Apple iPhone 4 prototype to Gizmodo, but has decided not to bring charges against any employees of Gizmodo or its parent company, Gawker Media.


Thank goodness. It would have been a difficult case, with little certainty of success. I bet they have worse crimes that are easier to prosecute top a successful conclusions.

Or maybe they just decided that no criminal laws were broken?
post #11 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleLover2 View Post

Thank goodness. It would have been a difficult case, with little certainty of success. I bet they have worse crimes that are easier to prosecute top a successful conclusions.

Or maybe they just decided that no criminal laws were broken?

Probably the latter. They had admissions from everyone involved at Giz that they bought the phone and took it apart. If they DA had any thought that they could prove those actions were criminal, they would have pressed charges. Hard to beat admissions.

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post #12 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by msimpson View Post

So if I buy a car from someone that does not belong to them, and I know it is probably not their property when I purchase it, and then later the real owner of the car contacts me asking for it back, which would indicated the car was probably stolen, I am not guilty of possessing stolen property?

Seems like a strange ruling. I can only guess that there were some technical issues related to the evidence or how it was collected that made the DA think it would be hard to convict on the charges.

A car has a title document, which can prove its ownership when shown. How could you prove Gizmodo knew it's really Apple's property? It could be some knock-offs from China. They returned the phone after Apple released a formal written letter that claimed the ownership of the phone. So, the chance of getting a conviction in court is very slim. That's why they're not going forward with the charge.
post #13 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleLover2 View Post

Or maybe they just decided that no criminal laws were broken?

More likely they got enough cooperation from Gizmodo, and considering that they returned the phone on request was enough for the Police to determine that charging them was not necessary. Gizmodo might have been wrong to disassemble the device and talk about it, but there was no criminal action activity in that. In this case the Police and the DA health that receiving stolen property was too much of a stretch to prove given that Gizmodo showed intent to return it.

At worse Gizmodo were dicks, but that's not illegal. That doesn't mean a crime occurred though. The DA may "know" that a crime occurred, but the burden of proof is too high to legally enforce it.
post #14 of 57
My guess it that Gizmodo will think twice from this point forward before pulling a stunt like that. Gawker is just sighing in relief knowing they dodged a bullet. They'll be forever stamped as the example of what will happen to others if they do something similar.

Keep banning them from any Apple press event.
post #15 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by msimpson View Post

So if I buy a car from someone that does not belong to them, and I know it is probably not their property when I purchase it, and then later the real owner of the car contacts me asking for it back, which would indicated the car was probably stolen, I am not guilty of possessing stolen property?

Seems like a strange ruling. I can only guess that there were some technical issues related to the evidence or how it was collected that made the DA think it would be hard to convict on the charges.

Lost property statutes are not the same as auto theft laws.

What technical issues? They had very clear and honest admissions to all activities by Giz. Either those activities were criminal or they weren't, but they had all the facts the need to prove the actions were committed by Giz, right up to admissions on video.

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post #16 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by ALUOp View Post

A car has a title document, which can prove its ownership when shown. How could you prove Gizmodo knew it's really Apple's property? It could be some knock-offs from China. They returned the phone after Apple released a formal written letter that claimed the ownership of the phone. So, the chance of getting a conviction in court is very slim. That's why they're not going forward with the charge.

The Apple logo spread eagle over everything?

The fact it has a Dock Connector which Apple would have jumped all over if it was a knock off.

The fact it was running an unreleased iOS clearly stating it was developed by Apple.

The fact it isn't any released product on any store shelves.

Quite easy to prove really.
post #17 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowededwookie View Post

The Apple logo spread eagle over everything?

The fact it has a Dock Connector which Apple would have jumped all over if it was a knock off.

You mean just like the iPhone on my desk right now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowededwookie View Post

The fact it was running an unreleased iOS clearly stating it was developed by Apple.

The fact it isn't any released product on any store shelves.

Quite easy to prove really.

Only after they got their hands on it.

None of that could be used to prove they knew it was stolen prior to them buying it (actually, until they bought it, it was still 'lost property', since the act of selling it was selling of stolen property and is what made it become 'stolen' property). Once they had it and believed it was Apple property, they contacted Apple and informed them, albeit with a caveat that they provide proof it was theirs.

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post #18 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowededwookie View Post

The Apple logo spread eagle over everything?

The fact it has a Dock Connector which Apple would have jumped all over if it was a knock off.

The fact it was running an unreleased iOS clearly stating it was developed by Apple.

The fact it isn't any released product on any store shelves.

Quite easy to prove really.

The fact that they paid thousands of dollars for it? Who pays that sort of a fee for a knockoff that they could get from the source for less than a hundred bucks?
post #19 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowededwookie View Post

The Apple logo spread eagle over everything?

The fact it has a Dock Connector which Apple would have jumped all over if it was a knock off.

The fact it was running an unreleased iOS clearly stating it was developed by Apple.

The fact it isn't any released product on any store shelves.

Quite easy to prove really.


Only Apple can put Apple logo on a device?
Only Apple can put an iPhone port on a device?
Only Apple can put a GUI assembling to iOS on a device?
Quite easy to prove?
I guess it's quite easy to trick you into a scam like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B73NW...layer_embedded

Anyway, none of what you said would be able to prove Gizmodo knew the thing really belongs to Apple.
post #20 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

The fact that they paid thousands of dollars for it? Who pays that sort of a fee for a knockoff that they could get from the source for less than a hundred bucks?

If I know it's a counterfeit, then of course I won't pay high dollars.
What the guy was selling was claimed to be the then unreleased iPhone 4.
The guy approached them and claimed it's iPhone 4. To Gizmodo, it could be real or it could be fake.
If the guy was an Apple employee and showed his badge to Gizmodo, then the chance of getting a conviction would be much higher.
But the fact now is there is a reasonably high enough chance that it could be fake. That's why DA dropped the case.
post #21 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by ALUOp View Post

If I know it's a counterfeit, then of course I won't pay high dollars.
What the guy was selling was claimed to be the then unreleased iPhone 4.
The guy approached them and claimed it's iPhone 4. To Gizmodo, it could be real or it could be fake.
If the guy was an Apple employee and showed his badge to Gizmodo, then the chance of getting a conviction would be much higher.
But the fact now is there is a reasonably high enough chance that it could be fake. That's why DA dropped the case.

Either they they knew or didn't know. If they knew, that justifies the bounty they paid then they are screwed. If they had one iota of suspicion about it being fake, they shouldn't have paid as much, or they knew they were acquiring something they had no right to. Either way, their intent was to get something that they had no legal right to posses and they paid based on the assumption that it was legit.

Gawker/gizmodo isn't that dump to pay thousands without some assurance that it was legit and risk the fact that it could be a fake. Unless their intent was to get something they had no legit right to possess.
post #22 of 57
Apple paid a hefty settlement and dropped charges to keep Chen and Gawker from suing the shit out of them for aiding and abetting a massive abuse of police powers.
The settlement gag order keeps them from publishing the details, but I'm sure some details will leak in time.
post #23 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

Apple paid a hefty settlement and dropped charges to keep Chen and Gawker from suing the shit out of them for aiding and abetting a massive abuse of police powers.
The settlement gag order keeps them from publishing the details, but I'm sure some details will leak in time.

What are you talking about? Apple was never sued, nor were they fined. Unless you have a link...
post #24 of 57
I can't believe the hate for Gizmod. I'll bet that all of you hater still looked at all the pictures when they leaked, right? Don't hate gizmos for giving the people what they want. If we all thought it was so wrong then nobody should have even looked at the pics.

Oh and by the way if anybody finds an iPhone4 anywhere, it belongs to me. I claim it and you must return it to me or else face up to $1000 fine and a year in jail.
post #25 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by zklausz View Post

I can't believe the hate for Gizmod. I'll bet that all of you hater still looked at all the pictures when they leaked, right? Don't hate gizmos for giving the people what they want. If we all thought it was so wrong then nobody should have even looked at the pics.

The pictures were posted before anybody knew of their origin - in fact many people thought they were fake.

Quote:
Oh and by the way if anybody finds an iPhone4 anywhere, it belongs to me. I claim it and you must return it to me or else face up to $1000 fine and a year in jail.

Sorry, you cannot fine anybody unless you are the police.
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

Apple paid a hefty settlement

Nope.

Quote:
dropped charges

Nope.

Quote:
suing

Nope.

Quote:
aiding and abetting a massive abuse of police powers.

Nope.

Quote:
The settlement gag order keeps them from publishing the details

And lets you say whatever the crap you want, apparently.
post #27 of 57
Come on. You don't know very much about the legal system do you? First, if you buy some expensive jewelry from the back of a pick up truck, a prosecutor is not going to have any trouble convicting you of knowingly purchasing stolen property. Second, do you honestly think Gizmodo is going to pay five thousand dollars for a knock off from China?



Quote:
Originally Posted by ALUOp View Post

A car has a title document, which can prove its ownership when shown. How could you prove Gizmodo knew it's really Apple's property? It could be some knock-offs from China. They returned the phone after Apple released a formal written letter that claimed the ownership of the phone. So, the chance of getting a conviction in court is very slim. That's why they're not going forward with the charge.
post #28 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Nope.



Nope.



Nope.



Nope.



And lets you say whatever the crap you want, apparently.

Because sending a swat team to assault and invade a private residence and steal their valuables under an illegally obtained warrant, (that has been ruled INVALID), by a judge who is not impartial - is the norm when someone loses a cell phone.

Suggest you read more and type less. State screwed up big time on this one and want to bury it fast. So does Apple for their part on how the warrant was obtained.

So as to retort your uninformed, unread and ignorant post...
Yep
Yep
Yep
ditto
post #29 of 57
Good for all concerned.

Some of us both wanted and predicted this outcome. And took a lot of grief from these forums for that.\
post #30 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

My guess it that Gizmodo will think twice from this point forward before pulling a stunt like that. Gawker is just sighing in relief knowing they dodged a bullet. They'll be forever stamped as the example of what will happen to others if they do something similar.

Keep banning them from any Apple press event.

My guess is they won't. Who wouldn't want to sell / show off pictures of an iphone prototype?

Best day ever when that thing leaked.

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post #31 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

Because sending a swat team to assault and invade a private residence and steal their valuables under an illegally obtained warrant, (that has been ruled INVALID), by a judge who is not impartial - is the norm when someone loses a cell phone.

None of that was done by Apple - it was done by a task force (that works with the DA I should add) responding to a criminal complaint by Apple over a valuable prototype device. Just because the warrant was ruled invalid doesn’t mean anything of what you said true.

ETA: According to the React Website:

Quote:
All Agents of the React Task Force are either California Peace Officers and/or U.S. Federal Agents
post #32 of 57
lock up your women and liquor, here comes gizmodo chen.
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post #33 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post

lock up your women and liquor, here comes gizmodo chen.

Not to mention your pets and farm animals and....
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post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

Because sending a swat team to assault and invade a private residence and steal their valuables under an illegally obtained warrant, (that has been ruled INVALID), by a judge who is not impartial - is the norm when someone loses a cell phone.

Suggest you read more and type less. State screwed up big time on this one and want to bury it fast. So does Apple for their part on how the warrant was obtained.

So as to retort your uninformed, unread and ignorant post...
Yep
Yep
Yep
ditto

You are apparently one of those that is apparently uniformed. Warrants are issued and later ruled invalid - one of many technicalities criminals use for getting off scott free when a crime was committed but evidence was collected without proper due process, etc. which leads to fruit of the poison tree etc.

I would love to see any link to this so called settlement that Apple paid to Gizmodo.

The only thing this did is further insure that Gizmodo (aka Gawker) will continue to use their slimly and sometimes illegal methods to write about stuff they want to know without regard to the protection of others rights to IP and privacy.
post #35 of 57
As always, DED's spin is the most ridiculous thing about his 'news' article.

DED's headline:
"DA decides not to bring charges against Gizmodo in iPhone 4 case'

CNET news headline:
"Prosecutors file charges in prototype iPhone case"
http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20...e-iphone-case/

It would be funny if it weren't so tragic.
post #36 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen Meaney View Post

As always, DED's spin is the most ridiculous thing about his 'news' article.

DED's headline:
"DA decides not to bring charges against Gizmodo in iPhone 4 case'

CNET news headline:
"Prosecutors file charges in prototype iPhone case"
http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20...e-iphone-case/

It would be funny if it weren't so tragic.

Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum. Both headlines are true. Oh, I get it. It's all about hating on DED so substance really doesn't matter.
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post #37 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post

Either they they knew or didn't know.

Or they were unsure. Or they were 70% sure. Or an infinite number of other possibilities.
post #38 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by Owen Meaney View Post

As always, DED's spin is the most ridiculous thing about his 'news' article.

DED's headline:
"DA decides not to bring charges against Gizmodo in iPhone 4 case'

CNET news headline:
"Prosecutors file charges in prototype iPhone case"
http://news.cnet.com/8301-31001_3-20...e-iphone-case/

It would be funny if it weren't so tragic.

The only funny part is that you are apparently incapable of understanding that an article is more than the headline. Both statements are completely true. The DA did decide not to bring charges against Gizmodo while the prosecutors did decide to file some charges (just not against Gizmodo).

Is that distinction really too complicated for you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

The only thing this did is further insure that Gizmodo (aka Gawker) will continue to use their slimly and sometimes illegal methods to write about stuff they want to know without regard to the protection of others rights to IP and privacy.

Maybe, maybe not. Apple still has the option for a civil complaint. They could put Gizmodo out of business by burying them with legal expenses if nothing else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

Because sending a swat team to assault and invade a private residence and steal their valuables under an illegally obtained warrant, (that has been ruled INVALID), by a judge who is not impartial - is the norm when someone loses a cell phone.

Oh, really? Where is your evidence that the warrant was obtained illegally and was declared invalid?

Oh, wait. You're repeating Gizmodo's erroneous claim that anything that occurs in a newsroom is exempt from search and seizure. That is, of course, nonsense. If it were true, Jimmy Hoffa would be sitting in NBC's production studios right now, rather than under the end zone of a football stadium.
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post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

... and in the end... millions and millions sold... hope they got their 5000 bucks worth out of it!

And gizmodo got millions and millions of hits and probably retained many new readers, was it worth $5000, hell the f yeah.
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post #40 of 57
Who reads their regurgitated garbage. Gawker has like ten blogs, but crossposts so much, that it's like 1.5 blogs worth of content. Gizmodo is the worst. Tech 'news' for ten year olds, written by ten year olds.

I can't believe they're still around.
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