When Companies Sue Bloggers…

We all lose…

It’s too early to tell, but the precedent that Apple’s bizzare choice to attack sites most devoted to the ‘cult of Mac’ with lawsuits could have a chilling effect on blogging. From the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s press release:

On December 13, Apple filed suit against “Does 1-20” in a Santa Clara court. The company obtained a court order that allows it to issue subpoenas to AppleInsider and PowerPage for the names of the “Does” who allegedly leaked the information in question. EFF is defending the publishers against these subpoenas, arguing that the anonymity of bloggers’ sources is protected by the same laws that protect sources providing information to journalists.

“Bloggers break the news, just like journalists do. They must be able to promise confidentiality in order to maintain the free flow of information,” said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “Without legal protection, informants will refuse to talk to reporters, diminishing the power of the open press that is the cornerstone of a free society.”

“I am very disappointed by Apple’s behavior and its new policy of issuing legal threats to its best customers,” added Jason O’Grady, publisher of PowerPage. “Is corporate paranoia really more important than the First Amendment?”Bloggers and other web journalists are at greater risk from these type of strong arm tactics than professional journalists employed because far fewer of them have the resources and/or corporate backing required to resist these legal challenges.

This type of ham-fisted, sue everyone approach is one Apple innovation I hope goes the way of their ill-fated Lisa product.

Update: Glenn Reynolds notes that GM’s tactic, in similar circumstances, is to send in the goon squad first.

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