DA Realizes That Gizmodo Didn't Break The Law In Writing About Found iPhone 4 Prototype

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

You may recall the huge scoop that the site Gizmodo (part of the Gawker family) got a year and a half ago when it got its hands on a prototype iPhone 4 that someone had accidentally left in a bar. The whole thing got weird when police raided then-Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's house and took all his computer equipment. Many people expected Chen to be charged with a crime, even if the whole thing seemed silly (and, really, what "harm" was caused?). It only took over a year, but the San Mateo County District Attorney has finally announced that no charges will be filed against anyone from Gizmodo. Two others who had the phone were charged, but with misdemeanors. It still seems crazy that they're bothering with this at all, but deciding not to charge Gizmodo employees was a good move, even if it did take over a year.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2011 @ 8:04pm

    they should be charged with receiving stolen goods, since when the guys didn't turn in it at the bar it became stolen property, and when they bought it, they knew they were not buying a legit for sale iPhone you bought down the street

    oh but this is something you agree with, so receiving stolen goods doesn't bother you

     

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  2.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Aug 11th, 2011 @ 8:22pm

    so how much will they pay for the illegal seizure?

    I bet that's going to be fun in court.

    "hey guys, we obtained a bogus warrant via citing CFAA/"possible criminal activity", and the dude's not guilty. Here's your stuff back, broken, illegally copied, etc".

     

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  3.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 11th, 2011 @ 8:54pm

    Re:

    Did you read the case? He called the phone, couldn't find it, figured out it was a new model, then put it up to news reporters. The receiving stolen goods is a misnomer, when the guy tried *everything possible* to the phone back to its original owner.

    The phone was NOT stolen. It was lost.

    There was NO intent to steal here.

    There was NO intent to profit, merely report. The case for this, a criminal case where a man could be sentenced to jail, is nonexistent.

     

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  4.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 11th, 2011 @ 8:56pm

    Re: Re:

    " He called the phone, couldn't find it, figured out it was a new model, then put it up to news reporters. The receiving stolen goods is a misnomer, when the guy tried *everything possible* to the phone back to its original owner."

    He called about the phone to Apple, couldn't find its owner...

    "when the guy tried everything possible to give the phone back to its original owner..."

    Dang submit right next to preview!

     

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  5.  
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    Ben (profile), Aug 11th, 2011 @ 8:57pm

    Jason Chen's computer equipment

    Will he even get his equipment back? I've heard too many stories of people being released, but not the "evidence" seized during the arrest.

    And even if they give the equipment back, if the government had my computers for a year, I'd want to re-image the machines just in case they left some "presents".

     

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  6.  
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    Radjin, Aug 11th, 2011 @ 9:04pm

    You got to be kidding

    He made no attempt to return the phone, if so he would have given it to the bar tender as lost and found. Once he found out what he had he made no attempt to contact Apple and return it. Then he and his buddy shopped it around, for profit I might add, and found a buyer for his now stolen goods. A buyer that isn't even worth reading I might add, but this helped to bring this blogger(not journalist) into the light for a bit. This was every bit a crime that most of us would have been thrown in jail for.

     

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  7.  
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    TechDan (profile), Aug 11th, 2011 @ 9:12pm

    Re: You got to be kidding

    For those of us who remember and witnessed the original drama, the guy who found it actually called Apple and told them he had the phone and that he wanted to return it. Apple then denied that such a prototype phone even existed and thus began the shit-storm that followed.

     

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  8.  
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    Robert Freetard (profile), Aug 11th, 2011 @ 10:10pm

    Re: You got to be kidding

    Well Radjin,

    There goes any credibility you had.

    Try actually knowing what you are talking about one in a while.

     

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  9.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 11th, 2011 @ 11:50pm

    What harm!? WHAT HARM?!

    It was because of this coverage that Samsung was able to make the Galaxy S tablets and infringe on all of the awesome things, like rounded corners on icons, and compete with Apple!

    Apple now has to get Samsung devices banned from the planet 1 lawsuit at a time.

    THIS, THIS IS THE HARM!!!!!!!!1

    for the sarcasm impaired.
    /sarc

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2011 @ 11:59pm

    Re: You got to be kidding

    He made no attempt to return the phone...

    Not true, fanboi.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:02am

    They broke the law...

    the DA just decided to be extra ice and give them a break this time.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:03am

    They actually broke the law...

    the DA just decided to be extra nice and let them off this time.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:24am

    Yeah of course you leave the critical part out about him knowingly buying STOLEN goods. Of course with your pro-piracy preaching you think everyone is entitled to steal everything, and you have no respect for the creators and how they choose to reveal THEIR product. Of course if you ever produced anything worth a shit in your life you would understand.

     

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  14.  
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    freak (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:32am

    Re:

    Stolen goods:
    "OHMYGOD, where'd we leave that phone?! The bartender says he hasn't seen it! The police are out searching! OMG!"

    Not-stolen goods:
    "What? No, that's not our phone, stop trying to return it to us!"

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 2:29am

    Man, there sure are a lot of dumb trolls in this thread accusing them of stealing and stuff. I'd expect that after the first one got pounded with the facts, the others would've learned...

     

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  16.  
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    freak (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 2:37am

    Re:

    I think the regulars are all having fun taking turns explaining it, though.

     

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  17.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 2:42am

    Re:

    Reading... its fundamental but not a trolling requirement.

    After everyone was screaming for felony convictions for having destroyed Apple, I find it interesting the are only filing misdemeanor charges.

    Maybe the people who found it cut a deal with Apple to not reveal if you hold it like most people would, it would drop connection.

     

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  18.  
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    John Doe, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 4:10am

    From my business law class...

    In my business law class, a few too many years ago, we learned that there are two types of lost property. If lost in a place where the loser could backtrack and find it, then it belongs to the owner of the property it was found on. So in this case the bar owner. If it was lost in a place where it wouldn't reasonably be found, then it is finders keepers. At no point did we learn that it would be considered stolen. But hey, it involves Apple so the law says whatever Apple wants it to say.

     

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  19.  
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    Bengie, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 4:16am

    Re: You got to be kidding

    "but this helped to bring this blogger(not journalist)"

    journalist: a person who keeps a journal, diary, or other record of daily events.

    Wow, the definition of "journalist" sounds a lot lot blogging. You may want to learn the English language before posting.

     

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  20.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 4:16am

    Re: Jason Chen's computer equipment

    And one needs to wonder if any copies were made for them to dig through at their leisure.

    Would be a shame if any "insiders" at Apple happened to get outed and fired for having mentioned something to a reporter.

     

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  21.  
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    Oliver, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 4:42am

    Re:

    Not quite right... If someone drops their wallet on the street and there is no reasonable way to determine who's it is, then keeping the wallet does not constitute stealing property or retaining stolen property.

    It is also not illegal to buy an iPhone that someone is selling. You might violate the EULA when you try to use the iPhone. It IS illegal to SELL a stolen phone.

     

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  22.  
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    whisk3, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 5:14am

    from the link "charged with misappropriation of lost property and possession of stolen property"
    Is this one charge or two? If it's two, how can they make the stolen property stick if it isn't considered stolen property?
    If they can make it stick on Sage, why are they unable to make it stick on Gizmodo?

     

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  23.  
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    Tom, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 5:25am

    Spin doctor

    Nice twisting of the case. Yup, the DA realizes that Gizmodo didn't break the law in writing about the phone. He probably realized that some time before law school. The question at hand (and the presumed potential charges) was re receiving stolen property. The second is not a necessary prerequisite for the first.

    Other news sources have stated the DA isn't willing to engage in a long battle (and spend taxpayer money) to fight a well-funded first-ammendment decoy to a case of purchasing stolen property.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_18653245

    Yeah, not filing charges was probably a good move; the DA's office likely has easier criminal cases with more direct impact on public good.

    But Gizmodo are still #@$^&%.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:22am

    Re: Spin doctor

    So, Gizmodo commits a crime and we just let it go because there are "easier" cases to pursue?

    Justice at work?

     

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  25.  
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    freak (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 6:24am

    Re: Spin doctor

    I'm starting to wonder, are these apple fanboys? Nay, even those guys know how to read most times, and we're seeing pretty good grammar and at least passable command of the exclamation mark.

    Given that their literacy is, at least, passable, why then are they unable to read the comments, and are conflating 'stolen goods' with 'lost goods'?

    Could there be an agenda at work here?

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Gizmodo seems to have avoided the problem by not holding onto the phone.

     

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  27.  
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    ClarkeyBalboa (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    Re:

    If Apple wants to control the reveal of their product, then why was an Apple engineer bar hopping with a prototype? It's not Gizmodo's responsibility to sit on that story, and Apple got A LOT of great, free coverage of the iPhone4. Too bad they lumped in all the negative publicity for being vindictive.

     

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  28.  
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    Chris Meadows (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 8:29am

    The article I read suggested the DA's decision was a bit more pragmatic than realizing Gizmodo hadn't done anything illegal. The subtext I got, reading between the lines, was that they still thought Gizmodo had acted illegally in receiving stolen property, but Gizmodo was prepared to use a first-amendment freedom-of-the-press defense that could drag on into a lengthy, highly-publicized legal battle that would just end up Streisand-effecting them into greater publicity. Even if the DA's office eventually won, it would have been at too great a cost for any possible benefit.

     

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  29.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:07am

    Re:

    "Yeah of course you leave the critical part out where Apple was notified about the phone but didn't want to pick it up"

    FTFY

     

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  30.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re: Spin doctor

    Sure, look at California pursuing the vendetta against the Cisco "hack"

     

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  31.  
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    Thomas (profile), Aug 12th, 2011 @ 11:25am

    It took them a year..

    cause they were desperately trying to find something, anything, to charge them with.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    Man, there sure are a lot of dumb trolls in this thread accusing them of stealing and stuff. I'd expect that after the first one got pounded with the facts, the others would've learned...

    True fan boys never learn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    Re:

    If they can make it stick on Sage, why are they unable to make it stick on Gizmodo?

    M-O-N-E-Y

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2011 @ 12:15pm

    Re:

    Even if the DA's office eventually won, it would have been at too great a cost for any possible benefit.

    Exactly, that's just how the legal system works. If you've got the money, you can get away with murder. Meanwhile, prosecutors just love to pick on the poor and the defenseless.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Gizmodo, Jan 10th, 2012 @ 7:33am

    Blog

    Technorati is a search engine exclusively used for blogs where it features the latest updates happening in the blogosphere. It serves as a different world for online users who thirst for more detailed news and facts.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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