If you were anywhere near a techy site on the internet last week, you probably noticed the sensational story of how a prototype of a forthcoming iPhone got left behind
in a Silicon Valley bar, and eventually ended up in the hands (and on the pages
) of gadget site Gizmodo. Given Apple's history of cracking down
on new product leaks, it wasn't too surprising to see the company ask for the phone back
, nor to hear rumors that police were looking into the matter. However, it was a little surprising to read today that California police have seized computers and other gear
from one of Gizmodo's editors, breaking down his door in the process. The COO of Gizmodo parent Gawker Media alleges that the search was illegal, as the editor is protected under California's shield law
, which protects journalists from revealing their sources. Gawker founder Nick Denton says the case should let us find out if "bloggers count as journalists"
, but that's not completely clear. The shield law exists to protect unnamed sources, not to let journalists commit crimes (such as receiving stolen property) and then cover them up under the guise of their work. So while the case may not settle if bloggers are seen as journalists in the eyes of the law, it should settle once and for all that age-old question of whether or not an iPhone prototype left in a bar by an Apple employee constitutes stolen property.