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Follow-Up To My "Tough Question"

A few days ago, I asked a tough question. [ya gotta read the link to understand this post] I got a fair number of responses. Most had very little sympathy for the neighbors or the blogger. (me in this case) The essence of that sentiment was put forth by Laurence Simon:

MEDICAL RECORDS: Shoot neighbor.
CREDIT REPORT: Shoot neighbor's husband.
POST ON WIZBANG: Shoot neighbor, neighbor's husband, then you.

Problem solved. God bless the NRA.

Co-blogger Jay Tea said it a little more genteelly: I gotta side with the vast majority here. Violations of privacy of that nature are despicable and illegal, and should be avoided at all times. I don't care how big an asshat is being violated.

What I found notable by its absence was people proclaiming loudly that the blogger (me) was covered by the first amendment. I think this is because I "rigged" the analogy. Rather than have it be about a corporation suing a blogger, I made it about YOUR medial records being blogged by me. Suddenly the privacy rights hairs stood up on the backs of people's necks.

That stands in stark contrast to the response to Apple computer suing (not a blogger but) a Mac rumor site for publishing information STOLEN from Apple.* In that case, bloggers almost unanimously cried foul. They were wrong.

The question in this case is not about bloggers protecting sources, (for starters, thinksecret is not a blog) it is about the theft of and trafficking of property of great material value. This information is not about Steve Jobs having an affair or some salacious gossip, this is intellectual property that is owned by Apple computer being stolen from them and then disseminated by a for-profit rumor site. Information Apple computer spends million of dollars to produce.

Just because you claim you are a journalist does not give you the legal right to steal other people's property.

Another reason I think people underestimate the importance of this issue is they can't comprehend the value of this information.

Think about this: What does Apple sell? If you said computers and iPods you're wrong. Apple sells a user experience. A user experience you can not get anywhere else. Since 1984 Apple computer has lead the way. They used a mouse, then everyone used a mouse. They used a CD-ROM, then everyone used a CD-ROM. They made their computers funny colors, then everyone made computers with funny colors. (the list goes on and on) I promise you the PC makers are going to flood the market with micro PC's in response to the Mac mini.

This is a multi-billion dollar business. Apple computer is almost 200 spots higher than Gateway on the Fortune 500 list. They live and die by getting their innovative products to market before other technology companies have even thought about making similar products.

By people stealing trade secrets from Apple and publishing them, these people are ultimately stealing millions of dollars from the shareholders of Apple computer.

If a blogger posted the earth-shattering news that Steve Jobs wore something other than a black tee shirt to work and Apple sued, I'd be on the bloggers side. This ain't that. This is theft of a very expensive piece of property, the future of a multi-billion dollar company.

What I found interesting in my experiment was that when it came down to terms people could understand and identify with, they demanded privacy but when the information is owned by a large company, somehow it should receive no such protection. In the whole scope of life, releasing one person's credit record is far less damaging than stealing the property of millions of shareholders.

Shannon Love eviscerates the arguments that this property should not be protected. The whole thing is a must read (especially if you plan on commenting;) but the money graf is this:

If every individual has a right to publish stolen information with no expectation that they will ever have to reveal how they got that stolen information, then no one's information, no matter how private or trivial to the public interest, will be safe.

A scary thought.

And if you think the rumor sites help Apple and all this was planned, John Gruber will be more than willing to disabuse you of that notion.

If you have argued that the first amendment covers the trafficking of stolen property, I urge you to read my links and rethink that position. This is not about "journalism," it's about theft.

* There is a vast amount of misinformation about the lawsuit running around. This is a good summation.


Comments (32)

I had a feeling this was al... (Below threshold)

I had a feeling this was all about Apple.

I do have a question for you, Paul. How is the outing of these plans (to make the MacMini) going to hurt the shareholders in Apple? Obviously, Apple is already leaps and bounds ahead of any potential competitors on the PC side as it takes time and money to design a computer that small. Dell, Gateway, et al wouldn't be able to get production models of a PCMini out the doors until months after the new Macs are taking the industry by storm.

This may seem trivial, but ... (Below threshold)
Sherard:

This may seem trivial, but the "mini-Mac" is not a trend setter, it's a trend follower. The mini form factor PC has been around for a couple years. You can buy any number of "mini" case setups to build yourself a mini-PC, and with more power than the "mini-Mac" only dreams of.

Nice try, though.

On the bigger issue of privacy vs. the 1st ammendment, the stealing is wrong, yes. But the posting of the information, whether it be on a blog, or in a newspaper is not all that different. If it can be shown that the person that stole the information is the one posting it on a blog, then by all means, off to jail with them. If, however, that information was stolen by party A, and passed along to party B, who makes it public, party B is the same regardless of whether it is a Newspaper or a Blog.

Just a quibble actually. A... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Just a quibble actually. Apple didn't invent the mouse. It was invented by Xerox at Palo-Alto. Along with most of the graphical GUI interface that people like to point at Apple as inovating.

So, to change the equation some. Is stealing from a thief different than stealing from the inventor?

As for Apple selling the "user experience" - that's very funny. Got anymore good belly laughs today?
I always knew they weren't selling computers!

First let me handle this... (Below threshold)
Paul:

First let me handle this bit of non-sense:

This may seem trivial, but the "mini-Mac" is not a trend setter, it's a trend follower. The mini form factor PC has been around for a couple years. You can buy any number of "mini" case setups to build yourself a mini-PC, and with more power than the "mini-Mac" only dreams of. Nice try, though.

Sigh. The Mac Mini is 6.5" square by 2 inches high WITH a DVD burner. Can I build one like that myself? Nice try though. You don't have to believe me. Wait 6 months and you will see all the PC people buying them, then strutting around like they have something new.

Then I'll answer a far better question

I do have a question for you, Paul. How is the outing of these plans (to make the MacMini) going to hurt the shareholders in Apple? ... Dell, Gateway, et al wouldn't be able to get production models of a PCMini out the doors until months after the new Macs are taking the industry by storm.

First, let me dispel a myth (because it is important to the discussion) There is a certain class of 'business impaired' people who claim since Apple does not have a large marketshare they are going out of business tomorrow. Apple has a larger marketshare of the computer business than Gateway but you never hear that about Gateway. Apple has a larger marketshare in the computer business than Mercedes Benz has of the automobile business but you never hear anyone saying Mercedes will die because of it. (This comment really annoys me BTW because it shows how utterly stupid people can be.) Still, it is obvious they have a vast untapped market; one they are trying to reach out to with these new products.

As you yourself point out, the production turnaround time is now months rather than years as it had been in the past. Everyday they sell a product that had no competition in the marketplace, the more money they make. The rumor sites had this a month before the release. That is a month less of their "monopoly" and more importantly, a month less to establish "first mover" and define the market like they did with the iPod. ("Oh you want one of those little bitty machines... Those are Macs")

And it was not just the Mac Mini, they nailed the iPod shuffle and other products as well. And I promise you, there will be dozens of knockoffs of the iPod shuffle too.

One of the reasons Apple has been on a tear business-wise since Jobs returned, was that he demands complete secrecy about new products. It's a competitive business, every day lost in the market is millions dollars. He understands that.

Jim I'd be so much more imp... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Jim I'd be so much more impressed by your knowledge if you would learn to read.

As for Apple selling the... (Below threshold)
George:

As for Apple selling the "user experience" - that's very funny. Got anymore good belly laughs today?

Spoken like a man who has never owed an Apple product.

(but will now of course claim he did)

Ignorance truly is bliss Jim.

I am not computer savvy at ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I am not computer savvy at all. I pretty much know only how to do the basics.

I miss my MAC very much. My MAC was much easier to use, more user friendly, and had less problems than the PC (microsoft stuff) I currently use.

My MAC died, the PC was a freebie. I look forward to the day, when I can get another MAC and not be quite so frustrated.

So I am going with the MAC has a better user experience here, at least as far as being user friendly is concerned.


I wonder how this article w... (Below threshold)
JimK:

I wonder how this article would read if it were Microsoft suing their biggest fans. Anyway...Has product leaking ever resulted in an Apple fanboy not buying a product?

Ever?

Remember...there's going to have to be a discussion of *damages* at some point. Anyone with the sense God gave a flea can see that Apple fan sites *enrich* the company and build excitement for the product release.

I think the world would collapse of one of the cult members didn't run to thier local Apple retailer and beg them to take thier money for each new (or repackaged) product Jobs dreams up.

And the Mini, while awesome, is not just not new, it is a direct visual ripoff of another product that has existed for some time. So much for that "innovation."

1. I never claimed to own a... (Below threshold)
Jim:

1. I never claimed to own anything Apple. Perish the thought!

2. I walked away from Apple when I first checked out an early machine. The one that "solved" the problem of accidental re-boots by selling a plastic key cover to cover the re-boot key, which was designed next to the return key on the keyboard.

3. I make my living programming and now designing and building databases for fortune 500 companies (my current employer is a Billion dollar a year company). Funny thing. There is not a single Apple product in the ENTIRE company.

4. A good friend of mine loved Macs, until he started to try and program on them. After talking about the memory model with me, he abandoned ship for the PC world.

5. I run several programs that I refer to as "Life Support" programs on my PC. That means that MY health care is dependant upon those programs. Funny thing. None of them are even AVAILABLE for the MAC.

Need I go on, or do you guys give up yet?

Because your response are obvious to me that YOU don't have a clue about the real world. You are stuck in your little "Apple is great world", and don't relize that it isn't true for the majority of the world. (I think that's partly why the majority of the PC market is run using OTHER machiens?)

Oh, and I notice none of you tried to even DENY that Apple didn't steal the mouse or the GUI environment.

The Mac Mini is 6.5" square... (Below threshold)
Mark Flacy:

The Mac Mini is 6.5" square by 2 inches high WITH a DVD burner. Can I build one like that myself?

Not with stock parts, you won't.

MicroATX boards are another story, but those cases are bigger. 7.9"(H) x 10.6"(W) x 13.2"(D) was the first one that I found.

The Mac Mini reminds me a lot of the first Macs; nice machines, but not expandable at all. That was such a major change from the Apple ][ family that I've never bought another Apple product since. No doubt there's a lot of folks that want something like the Mac Mini, and that's fine by me.

Paul -- Your analo... (Below threshold)

Paul --

Your analogy fails for three reasons:

1) Apple is a fictitious entity, while the medical records in your hypothetical pertained to an individual. People are generally accorded greater rights than fictitious entities, which are merely creatures of law and contract.

2) The information cited in your hypothetical has greater potential to harm an individual than does the theft of Apple's "property."

3) In this case, you're alleging a theft of property. Your hypothetical involved invasion of privacy, which is an entirely different animal.

You are also silent about the issues of inducement and public interest that your hypothetical introduced.

--|PW|--

So much misinformation.... (Below threshold)

So much misinformation.

The value of this information to Apple is twofold.

First, Apple wants dramatic news from their keynotes to get lots of press play. This attention the company gets is quite valuable. If rumor sites can dribble out what's coming, the big announcements are no longer news in the industry and all that buzz goes away. This costs Apple money.

Secondly, Apple takes serious steps to keep their suppliers and employees from leaking this stuff early. If they let this slide, everyone knows they're not serious about keeping the lid on this info and it starts leaking out with impunity and much earlier in the cycle. They can't afford to let it start.

Next, Apple didn't steal anything from Xerox. Xerox had one of the first implementations of ideas about bit-mapped computers that had been going around academia for a while. One of the original Apple fellows drug everyone over to Xerox to show them an early implementation of what he had been proposing, and Apple paid cash to get access.

Yes, Doug Englebart invented the mouse.

By the way, the conventional wisdom in the programming circles I frequent, is that it is substantially easier to program for a Macintosh than it has ever been to program on a PC. But, since you can make cash from just about any piece of dropping you write for a PC many of them are willing to suffer. Your best programmers unwilling to compromise stay with the Mac (which might explain why so much of the software is better).

Truthfully, in their heart of hearts, everyone knows that Macintosh's are better than PC's. That's Apple's only justification for staying in business. Microsoft knows this too. That's why they've been following Apple's lead for over a decade.

This is reminding me of ano... (Below threshold)
Christopher Rake:

This is reminding me of another situation involving a magazine and its February issue, but I can't quite place it.

I run several programs t... (Below threshold)

I run several programs that I refer to as "Life Support" programs on my PC. That means that MY health care is dependant upon those programs. Funny thing. None of them are even AVAILABLE for the MAC.

That's probably because they aren't needed on a Mac, silly.

>>I run several programs th... (Below threshold)
Jim:

>>I run several programs that I refer to as "Life Support" programs on my PC. That means that MY health care is dependant upon those programs. Funny thing. None of them are even AVAILABLE for the MAC.

>That's probably because they aren't needed on a Mac, silly.

And this poster shows what a total A.. they are. One of the programs is a blood metering and monitoring program. The kind used by diabetics. Not one vendor of such devices and programs makes a MAC capable version. Ever wonder WHY?

I know, maybe the vendors of such products are wise enough to know that nobody who uses a MAC evers gets diabetis?

Jim ask:Need I go ... (Below threshold)
George:

Jim ask:

Need I go on, or do you guys give up yet?

No Jim we believe you are an idiot. Point made.

Jim every time someone says... (Below threshold)
George:

Jim every time someone says the word Apple you jump up and down shouting that you have this healthcare software that only runs on a PC.

Who gives a fuck?

Do you think thousands of people should drive a PC because you might one day come to their house and need a PC? Do you think that Makes Windows somehow "better?"

OK so YOU need to use a PC for it. So What?

That does not mean they are fantastic, only that your software runs on it.

Geeze man it is a meaningless argument that proves nothing more than your software runs on a PC, GET OVER IT.

It makes you look like a small bitter child whining because people have better toys than you.

Oops. My bad.Jim, ... (Below threshold)

Oops. My bad.

Jim, perhaps you might consider being a little more clear next time. The implication most would take from your post was that these were programs that kept a PC-based business going.

Also, you sound a little confused and angry. Could it be that you need to adjust those meds a little?

Perhaps you are not being all that well served by PC-quality software.

Well, I was never one for "... (Below threshold)
meep:

Well, I was never one for "journalistic privelege" anyway. First amendment doesn't mean you can say anything you want, after all (slander, libel, treason, threats, etc.). Freedom of the press doesn't mean you can be involved in something illegal, like publishing info leaked from a grand jury. I'm all for prosecuting newspaper journalists, TV journalists, bloggers, whoever to force them to divulge the sources of their illegally obtained info.

I don't see what's so difficult about that concept.

Getting into the pros and cons of Macs and Apple are beside the point. They own the info. Corporations are actual, legally recognized entities, no matter how fictitious one would like to proclaim them. It is irrelevant as to whether the disclosure of various information is harmful to the corporation. Someone could "borrow" my property without permission and return it, without any damage to it and any noticeable detriment to me... and it still would be theft.

This is also very pertinent... (Below threshold)
Adam:

This is also very pertinent to the cases of the journalists on trial because they won't disclose their sources; who obtained their information illegally.

Is creating an insentive for breaking the law, and profiting from that lawlessness, protected by freedom of speech?

I doubt it, somehow.

Nicely done, Paul, but I th... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Nicely done, Paul, but I think there's a fundamental flaw in your analogy.

In your initial story, the information being referred to was strictly private, confidential information. The mere possession and distribution of it was in and of itself the violation.In the Apple case, the information was intended to ultimately be public -- Apple's protest is based on the timing and manner of the information's release. A better comparison might be announcing another person's engagement or pregnancy (or, in a more negative context, divorce or job loss) before they have the chance to notify those they wish to tell personally.

Interesting idea, though.

J.

I can see we have some of t... (Below threshold)
Jim:

I can see we have some of the Apple apologists aboard. Or are they simply trolls?

Look, diabetic blood meter software is a very neccessary and large market. The venders who supply it won't even consider MACs, and I no longer wonder why. You guys are exactly what you are accusing Democrats of, BIGOTS.

This is only the second time I have brought this subject up here. Maybe because the subject is TRUE. Maybe you should get some of the vendors to think about Apple software. In the meantime, Apple DOES NOT SERVE THE REST OF US, like their ads state.

>Also, you sound a little confused and angry. Could it be that you need to adjust those meds a little?

This is the kind of bigoted response I am talking about.

>Perhaps you are not being all that well served by PC-quality software.

The PC quality software works, and does the job EVERY day. The MAC software is NON-EXISTANT. That's my point. I am being served, but apple is so concerned about their "life experience" that they forget that part of the issue is to build machines that DO THE JOB.

I also made a point that Apple is calling the Kettle black, since some of their "innovative" hardware was itself stolen. Or haven't you guys been around the industry long enough to know that? And that is pertinent to the discussion.


Good job Paul.The 'w... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

Good job Paul.
The 'we're untouchable' attitude of the press has always irritated me (like leaking the Pentagon Papers and releasing military secrets, just to name a couple).

I've always wondered why they got away with it.

Paging Bob Novak...... (Below threshold)
Bill K:

Paging Bob Novak...

Ummm Jay Tea:In... (Below threshold)
Paul:

Ummm Jay Tea:

In your initial story, the information being referred to was strictly private, confidential information. The mere possession and distribution of it was in and of itself the violation.

That is the EXACT situation Apple was in.

You did read Shannon's piece I linked right? right? right?


=======
-PW-
The analogy does not does not have to be perfect. I took a gamble. You guys might have stood up for the bloggers and I would have lost my "bet." But I know human nature. When it was Apple's information getting stolen people don't think much of it. But when it is their information....

Point made.

=======
BillK

Now THAT is a good reply.

=======
Jim your whacky line of "reasoning" really is quite tiring.

I know 4 diabetics. 3 drive Macs and 1 has no computer at all... you know what Jim, they are all still alive. If you think that you would be dead without the almighty Bill Gates, well more power to ya.

You really are unhinged.

Huh? Steve Jobs is having a... (Below threshold)

Huh? Steve Jobs is having an affair? Again?? I'd better post that...!

I don't know, Paul, but you... (Below threshold)
-S-:

I don't know, Paul, but your recap of the earlier discussion (comments by many of us) defies the actual points made, by most from what I read.

And that was that the BLOGGER, much less all involved, were behaving questionably, even badly enough to merit lawsuits, complaints if employment was involved to the police, even a finer discussion about which would be applicable to whom.

But, most of us recognized that there was some level of dishonesty involved (that means, in that earlier scenario, theft of proprietary information) and that there should be steps taken to remedy that for the person affected/stolen from/damaged by others' bad behavior.

It actually becomes less excusable when it involves company/commercial entities, in my experience, given that there is an expectation if not as often is in place, a written promise to remain confidential about an employer's information, expected/required of most employees today...just saying, in my experience, the only grey areas of differences of opinion as to severity about this scenario (earlier) was that when it was on the personal level, that's when it became fuzzy as to opportunities to protect oneself.

About MAC, yes, you are quite right that what they sell and promote and build their general business romancing on is the "experience" of using and owning a MAC.

Which is also their Achilles' Heel, given that that romancing is generally what is most offensive to many of the rest of us about the MAC and about Apple and particularly about Jobs. I just wish he'd clear his throat once and for all, blow his nose and do all that before he appproaches a microphone because I cannot stand, cannot STAND, to listen to him speak what with his grunts and snarks and slurps and snorts and yechy otherwise nasal and throat sounds. Gives me the creeps.

Put this way, the presenter just turns me off and I am not interested at that point in emulating or assuming any alignment with the presenter. I find MAC's sales methods just very offputting but I've written about that before.

That and that DELL has always displayed a real intention to get and keep my business. That matters to me.

Got it. Thinksecret bad. Ap... (Below threshold)
Taj:

Got it. Thinksecret bad. Apple lose money=bad. Linking to Playboy pictures good. Playboy lose money=good. Moral compass now properly adjusted.

Oh please. The mini-mac is... (Below threshold)
Sherard:

Oh please. The mini-mac is 6" with a DVD burner!!

Well YAHOO!!! I don't give a crap if it's 6" or 8". Yes, you certainly can build a SFF PC of very similar stature, oh and you CAN put a DVD burner in it. I don't know what you find so all fired difficult about that.

Yippee for Mac, they slightly shrunk the general size of a SFF computer. Such innovation!!! Any number of smart PC pundits have shown this to be the underpowered, over-price, peripheral-less box it is. The simple fact is whether it's 6" or not, it is a iterative improvement over a PC trend that has been around for over a year.

Neat analogy. I get your po... (Below threshold)
merc:

Neat analogy. I get your point - I don't really care whether or not Apple makes a penny this year, but I can see where you're coming from. I don't see any reason why industry secrets shouldn't be protected.

That being said...

...why do PC-lovers and MAC-lovers not get along...at least not in the comments section of this post of this blog...?

Is it illegal for some reason to not enjoy watching Star Trek AND Star Wars...?

I mean, when I look into buying a new computer in the next year or two I'll be looking for specific technical features. Whichever company gives me those features at the lowest price will get my business. I don't care if it's Dell, Lenovo, Apple, HP, whatever...

*shrugs*

Why is this even a problem? Really?

...why do PC-lovers and ... (Below threshold)
Paul:

...why do PC-lovers and MAC-lovers not get along...at least not in the comments section of this post of this blog...?

WELL let me just say it this way Merc...

SOME people's hardware is just a little undersized and when they see a guy with (ahem) bigger hardware they try to act bigger than they really are... if you know what I mean.

Ahem, Paul, so you're think... (Below threshold)
-S-:

Ahem, Paul, so you're thinking that women want you if your hardware is shaped like a MAC?

Um, no. Unless 'she's' shaped like I.Robotness.




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