(AP) Online journalists and bloggers recently filed a brief supporting three Web site reporters who wrote about a top-secret product Apple Computer Inc. claims was protected by trade secret laws.
In December, Apple sued 25 unnamed individuals — possibly Apple employees — whom it claims leaked confidential product information to three Web publishers.
In Apple’s attempts to identify the source of the leaks, the company subpoenaed an Internet provider and demanded it turn over some of the reporters’ e-mail records. After a judge in San Jose upheld the subpoena last month, the reporters appealed.
The Center for Individual Freedom, First Amendment Project, Media Bloggers Association, Reporters Without Borders, and several individual online journalists, bloggers, and other groups submitted a brief this week asking that the online publishers be allowed to keep sources confidential.
The groups said the judge’s ruling, if upheld, would discriminate against journalists who don’t work for mainstream newspapers or other large publications. The reporters in the Apple case write for the Web sites Apple Insider and PowerPage.
Only bloggers who report news should qualify for the protections afforded other reporters, the groups emphasized.
“The applicability of the news gatherers’ privilege is determined not by the reporter’s formal status as a ‘professional journalist,’ but rather by the reporter’s functional conduct in gathering information with the purpose of disseminating widely to the public,” the brief stated.