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

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    ...all under probably cause
  • Reply 2 of 56
    msimpsonmsimpson Posts: 452member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 56
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,450member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 56
    desuserigndesuserign Posts: 1,316member
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 56
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 56
    ... and in the end... millions and millions sold... hope they got their 5000 bucks worth out of it!
  • Reply 7 of 56
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 56
    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.".
  • Reply 9 of 56
    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?
  • Reply 10 of 56
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,756member
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 56
    aluopaluop Posts: 57member
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 56
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 56
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,602member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 56
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,756member
    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.
  • Reply 15 of 56
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 56
    tulkastulkas Posts: 3,756member
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 56
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    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?
  • Reply 18 of 56
    aluopaluop Posts: 57member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 56
    aluopaluop Posts: 57member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 56
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    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.
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