Sunday, March 13, 2005

Phew! Crisis averted in Apple/blogger ruling

The First Amendment took a bit of a hit in a judge's ruling related to Apple's case against bloggers who published trade secrets.

From CNET's coverage of the ruling:
"The bottom line is there is no exception or exemption in either the (Uniform Trade Secrets Act) or the Penal Code for journalists--however defined--or anyone else," wrote Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg.

Compared to what he could have said, I'm actually okay with that. Not that I'm not a staunch defender of the First Amendment, but there's a hell of a lot more case history defending the First Amendment than there is classifying bloggers as journalists.

In CNET's interpretation, the judge "avoided the question of whether the enthusiast sites qualified for the same legal protections as traditional journalists." But a comment in the article from Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, makes me even more confident that, while Kleinberg may not have explicitly identified bloggers as journalists, he certainly implied that they should be treated similarly:

"It's a thoughtful but seriously wrong decision," Scheer said. "Under this logic, if the Wall Street Journal ran a story about these documents, it could be prosecuted criminally. That's an absurd result."

Maybe so, but a ruling that bloggers can't qualify as journalists would have been even more absurd.