Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

[publisher’s note] SiliconValleyWatcher joins amicus brief in Apple case

Posted by Tom Foremski - April 12, 2005

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

danger2.jpgThe big California newspapers filed their amicus brief late last week, but if they hadn’t, the bloggers and journalist organizations have signed onto one of their own.

The Amicus brief mentions SiliconValleyWatcher's recent scoop on a story related to Apple's choice of a UK-designed chip to be used in a possible portable multimedia device, maybe the much anticipated video iPod. [ijusthopeitdoesnotattracttoomuchattentioniamnothomeand travellingforthenextthreeyears]

Here's what the brief says about SVW:

... Since the Superior Court’s decision, [SiliconValleyWatcher has] had to rethink how they cover certain stories. For example, SVW obtained information from sources outside of Apple that the company had signed an agreement to purchase a substantial amount of chips. This information was important because of the products that could be built using these chips. SVW delayed running this story for several days because they were concerned, given the Superior Court's ruling, that they would be compelled to reveal their source or would themselves be accused of disseminating a trade secret. After consulting pro bono counsel, they published the story several days later than they ordinarily would have. However, they chose to change its treatment in the headline and lead paragraphs to focus on the British chip design firm rather than Apple. They changed the story to avoid having to litigate to protect their source. As journalists publishing on the Web, they are concerned the Superior Court's ruling gives them less protection under the Federal privilege and the California Shield than that enjoyed by their print and broadcast peers– and thus weakens the public's interest in a dynamic and diverse media landscape.

Steve Jobs' current pursuit of the three Mac news web sites is unprecedented. In the more than 20 years I’ve covered Silicon Valley as a reporter, Apple has always tried to stop the leaks and consistently failed. One year it tried to give different names to the same project to track the leaks; but that didn’t work. It’s impossible to muzzle the hundreds and probably thousands of people that see or know about an Apple product before its launch.

Apple has never been able to stop the leaks; and there is no good reason to stop the leaks, because a buzz is built six months before the Apple product is released. You can’t buy better marketing.

And it’s not the hardware that makes Apple special. Anybody could use the same components and make the hardware for an iPod or iMac, that's not its trade secrets. Its crown jewels are the user interface, the software applications, and the business services layered on top.

Here are the many familiar names of the blogosphere in the Amicus Brief: Jack M. Balkin, The Center for Individual Freedom, Julian Dibbell, Feedster, The First Amendment Project, A. Michael Froomkin, Gawker Media, Gothamist, Groklaw, Happy Mutants, Ben Hammersley, Joichi Ito, Joel Johnson, Kimberly A. Kralowec, LawMeme, Rebecca MacKinnon, Joshua Micah Marshall, The Media Bloggers Association, Markos Moulitsas, Reporters Without Borders, Glenn Harlan Reynolds, Peter Rojas, Jay Rosen, Scott Rosenberg, Doc Searls, Silicon Valley Watcher, Kevin Sites and Eugene Volokh.
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