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.

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Companies: apple, gawker

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

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35 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

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

Jay (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: 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!

Oliver says:

Re: 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.

Ben (profile) says:

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”.

Radjin says:

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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: 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.

John Doe says:

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.

Tom (profile) says:

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 #@$^&%.

freak (profile) says:

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?

Chris Meadows (profile) says:

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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