Jason OiGrady, publisher of the OiGradyis PowerPage Web site, is heading to court on Thursday to appeal a ruling requiring him to turn over email records to Apple Computer. Apple sued, demanding information about who leaked unannounced product specifications, which later appeared on his site. Mr. OiGrady contends that as a journalist, he has the right to protect his sources.
The court agreed with Apple that the sourceis information is related to an illegally obtained "trade secret," and should not be protected by federal "shield laws." Mr. OiGrady disagrees, so off to court he goes.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is watching this case closely, and sees it as an important case of journalistic freedom. Should the court uphold the earlier ruling requiring Mr. OiGradyis email records be turned over to Apple, it will undermine every journalistis ability to protect confidential sources.
Apple certainly has the right to protect the products it is developing from industrial espionage, just as every other company does. The problem before the courts now is exactly where to draw the line both for companies and journalists.
Should Apple prevail, it will set a precedent that may cause some potential whistle-blowers and other legitimate inside information providers to clam up. In addition to news agencies across the United States losing potential information sources, Apple could also lose one of its most powerful advertising allies: Apple and Mac news sites.