Microsoft won't get reporter's notes Judge rules against p.14

By: David Noack software giant's pursuit of CNet reporter

ACNet reporter doesn't have to hand over documents to Microsoft Corp., a federal judge ruled last week. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant wanted the materials used for a story about Microsoft's legal battles with Sun Microsystems Inc. CNet is a San Francisco-based online computer news organization.
Federal magistrate Patricia V. Trumbull, in a decision handed down March 22, ruled that the documents supplied to reporter Dan Goodin most likely did not come from someone bound by a protective court order preventing Microsoft and Sun from disclosing information about their legal fight. "Thus, this court finds that requiring a reporter to disclose information that may reveal a confidential source is not warranted," the two-page ruling says. CNet moved to quash the subpoena last November in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif.
Goodin was subpoenaed a month prior for materials used to write two stories about Sun's suit against Microsoft. The lawsuit claims that Microsoft changed elements of Sun's original Java programming code in order to make it unreliable.
On Sept. 23, CNet published two articles, "Microsoft's Holy War Against Java" and "Intel, SGI Bail on Java Multimedia." Goodin wrote the stories after an anonymous source allowed him to read internal documents from Microsoft. Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan says the company was not seeking the name of the source who provided Goodin with the documents.
"We were not asking the reporter who leaked him the documents," he says. "We just wanted our documents back. Our goal is to protect our confidential information which should not be shared outside those provided for in the protective order. We will not speculate on what might have happened, and we will move forward. At some point, each company must take appropriate steps to protect the integrity of the legal process."
Los Angeles attorney Kent Raygor, who represented CNet and Goodin, could not be reached for comment, but has argued in the past that the California Constitution, which includes a reporter's privilege, and the First Amendment protect Goodin from having to turn over the documents. He contended that Microsoft was trying to force Goodin to reveal his source.
Jane Kirtley, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va., applauds the ruling. "It is so great when a judge comes to the conclusion that it's not necessary to subpoena and won't be allowed," she says.
A Sun spokeswoman declined to comment.
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: [Caption]
?(copyright: Editor & Publisher March 27, 1999) [Caption]


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here