Police seize Gizmodo editor's gadgets

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76 Responses to “Police seize Gizmodo editor's gadgets”

  1. GyroMagician says:

    It makes me sad to see journalistic freedom being cited as defence in this case. It’s a phone. The world is not a better or worse place for seeing the (possibly) next iphone. Gizmodo are not trying to expose crooked politicians or abusive multinationals. There is a very grey line between journalism and blogging, and what Gizmodo are doing here makes it much easier to dismiss bloggers as undeserving of the special rights given to journalists. Nice job.

  2. hectorinwa says:

    Stolen goods or found goods? Is finding something on a bar stool “stealing” ? Or am I being naive…

    • arikol says:

      Hector, think about it. Is your jacket hanging on a coathook in a cafe not just mine to walk off with?
      I mean, it wouldn’t be stealing as it was just hanging there unattended and the owner nowhere in sight.

      Unattended does not equal free for the taking.

      The poor guy who lost it should have got it back from the barman the following day, if someone hadn’t been so pleased with finding himself his very own iPhone that is.

  3. Kerov says:

    Seizing your computer has become Standard Operating Procedure for the police. It’s a great way for the authorities to “teach you a lesson” without the pesky annoyance of having to take you to trial.

    Just another reason to always use full-disk encryption. Doesn’t make the seizure any less inconvenient for you, but it does prevent the cops from going on a fishing expedition through your entire digital life.

    Of course, issuing a search warrant to your webmail provider is also becoming common. So common that the major providers have standardized published pricelists for these law-enforcement requests. This is a huge privacy problem that is only getting bigger.

  4. kaffeen says:

    For one thing, Gizmodo doesn’t do journalism so this has no bearing on laws for that. Even if your view is that Gizmodo has an inch of journalistic integrity (and deserves categorization as such), that does not change that they broke the law.

    They did not simply *report* on *someone* who bought an illegal phone, strip it to pieces, take a thousand pictures, detail everything it can/cant’ do, and “out” the person who lost it and make him look like an idiot.

    No….they actually *did* all that themselves.

    Big difference.

    About time…

  5. nexusheli says:

    1) The phone wasn’t stolen, it was lost. It’s a technicality, but until the ‘owner’ of the phone reports it to police, which was never done, it’s lost.

    Even if it was ‘stolen’, it’s not valuable enough to be considered a felony, IIRC, the cutoff is $1000 for grand-theft, so at worst this is a misdemeanor.

    2) Journalist or not, the fact that the cops didn’t respect the information given to them as CA state penal code, or even bother to look into it further, or give another reason is WRONG. Questioning authority is not a rebellious thing, it’s a responsible thing. The day we simply accept what our government, our military and our police do is the day we give up our liberty. There are far too many cases of police corruption going on in this country already.

    3) The preferential treatment given to Apple is wrong. It’s a GD cell phone, it’s not like it contained state secrets. Are there not murderers and rapists to catch in the area? I’m fairly certain that the effort and resources put into searching Jason’s home and now rifling through all his personal information could have been (much) better spent on real crime.

    • jwb says:

      The value of the item has already been clearly established at $5000.

      • nexusheli says:

        $5000 is not the value of the item, that’s the value of the story being written about it.

        The value of the item would be determined by Apple reporting their costs to have those prototypes manufactured and shipped to the US, which at best is a couple hundred dollars. The full retail price on the current iPhone is $600, because this product isn’t in distribution or have a retail price set, the cost of manufacture is the value of the item.

        • nutbastard says:

          “the cost of manufacture is the value of the item.”

          in prototyping, the initial builds often cost an order of magnitude (or more) than the production build units will cost.

          the value of the phone may well exceed $20,000 never mind the $5k Gizmodo paid for it

          • nexusheli says:

            If this were a revolutionary new product with new components and not an evolution of a current product, and it were the only one in existence, yes, it could certainly cost tens of thousands of dollars. However we all know that there are more than one Apple insider running around testing these, and we know from the breakdown the parts are pretty much carryovers, nothing crazy new. With their relationship with their Asian manufacturers and their volume of production on new products, those factories are nearly willing to give money along with the prototype they build for Apple knowing the business they get in return will more than pay for it.

          • nutbastard says:

            Not to be a jerk, but do you do prototyping?

            In any case, I do, and I can tell you that them stuffing that larger battery into a smaller case while adding an additional camera calls for an almost complete layout revision. It’s not a simple matter, and Apple spares no expense. I have things laying around here that we built 20 of that are FAR less complicated and much less restricted on space than an iPhone and they cost over $8k a piece, $11k if you count the R&D (but that’s only so low because there’s only 2 of us here who do the engineering)

          • nutbastard says:

            “those factories are nearly willing to give money along with the prototype they build for Apple knowing the business they get in return will more than pay for it.”

            That’s true as a general concept, but Apple still had to cut a P.O. for those phones, and the manufacturer still had to quote them for the initial build honestly – both for legal reasons and to cover their ass just in case Apple decided to let someone else do the production run.

          • MooseDesign says:

            Oh man, I would say that is, at best, an uninitiated opinion. As someone who has worked with prototyping and hardware testing, the value of that unit is likely 10s of thousands of dollars to Apple if not quite a lot more. QA time invested in the unit is an associated cost, and it wouldn’t be unheard of to make a claim for value and associated loss related to this unit based on intellectual property laws which could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or, how about marketing costs or trade secrets?

            Most of all, it is common sense. Just because you see it as “evolutionary”, which intellectually it certainly is, doesn’t cover the very real cost of ID for a totally new case, and compensating for the dearth of new components (cameras, flash, battery, etc.). These are not trivial changes from a design and production standpoint.

            All in all, there is precedent for setting a substantial value for an unreleased prototype if you just use a little imagination. You can be certain that Apple’s legal counsel will…

            All that said, from looking at the warrant, it is entirely possible that it will be thrown out on a technicality. That being that the search was performed at night, and that wasn’t authorized…

          • Stooge says:

            MooseDesign, if there’s a technicality to get the warrant thrown out on, a night search isn’t the one they’re looking for.

            According to California Penal Code Section 1533, “Upon a showing of good cause, the magistrate may, in his or her discretion, insert a direction in a search warrant that it may be served at any time of the day or night. In the absence of such a direction, the warrant shall be served only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.”

            All sides appear to agree that Chen got served before 10 pm.

          • MooseDesign says:

            IANAL, but let’s look at this, “According to California Penal Code Section 1533, ‘Upon a showing of good cause, the magistrate may, in his or her discretion, insert a direction in a search warrant that it may be served at any time of the day or night.’”
            OK, well there was indeed such a direction… NOT to perform a night search.

            “In the absence of such a direction, the warrant shall be served only between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.’”
            But there WAS a direction for there not to be night search, at least according to the warrant. And according to the code you quoted, the discretion to serve it outside of a determined time was to be in “the absence of such a direction”. Again, IANAL, but that would be my reading of what you quoted…

          • jdk998 says:

            The police were at his house at 9:45 PM.

          • Stooge says:

            MooseDesign, you’re reading what’s being negated incorrectly. Authorisation to serve the warrant at any time, day or night, was not given ergo the warrant had to be served between 7am and 10pm. It’s a straight-forward binary choice for the issuing magistrate, there’s no third option which precludes a search during an undefined period called night.

            Cybernia, what you’re stating as fact is actually what Gizmodo reported the ‘finder’ to have claimed. I can think of 5,000 reasons not to take it at face value without corroboration.

    • Marshall says:

      3) The preferential treatment given to Apple is wrong. It’s a GD cell phone, it’s not like it contained state secrets. Are there not murderers and rapists to catch in the area? I’m fairly certain that the effort and resources put into searching Jason’s home and now rifling through all his personal information could have been (much) better spent on real crime.

      I’m tired of seeing this argument made whenever someone wants to question police behavior. Do you not want the police to investigate felonies unless they’ve solved all the murders in the area? Does that mean that I should have a license to steal and rob, so long as the police have “more important things to do?”

      I highly doubt that the police involved were homicide detectives called away from the scene of a serial murder to do the work of officers whose job it is to investigate exactly the type of crime that may have been committed in this case.

      • nexusheli says:

        Yeah, I’m tired of the cliche too, but it’s applicable. Sure, they probably weren’t homocide detectives, but they sure are treating it like a murder happened.

        There are far, FAR better things for a state starving for money to be spending their resources on than going after someone who took advantage of an opportunity that fell in their lap to the umbrage of the law.

        While I hate speed limits and find them terribly arbitrary, at least they could be generating revenue instead of making some corporation sated.

        • piminnowcheez says:

          “at least they could be generating revenue instead of making some corporation sated.”

          I wonder what the presence of Apple, Inc. in California adds to the state’s aggregate tax base.

    • Anonymous says:

      Small problem with the analysis of nexushi as Gizmodo admits to paying $5,000.00 for the item. That makes a good case for grand theft. And as this particular phone was a prototype its actual value is much more than a typical cell phone.

      Plus please note that Gizmodo did all the field work for the cops by publishing their violation of California law. Most likely the cops hand was probably forced by the publishing of the salient facts. If anyone is to blame for the waste of hard-earned taxpayers dollars it has to be Gizmodo.

  6. Stooge says:

    Patrick Austin, I don’t think the cost to Apple is particularly relevant here.

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with publishing unauthorised pre-release photos or specs of a product, and rightly there are laws to protect journalists and the confidentiality of their sources which can apply even in cases where the sources broke the law to obtain the information. However, none of this applies to Gizmodo: they don’t have a source of stolen information to protect, theirs is a source of stolen property, and they effectively demanded proof that it was stolen before handing over the cash for it. You don’t get a pass for that because you’re a journalist any more than Jalopnik would if they decided to try out cars by taking up joyriding.

  7. kaffeen says:

    There are laws to determine the ‘cost’ of this phone. Based on those, it is a felony not a misdemeanor. I believe I read the actual laws that were applicable at Daring Fireball, but it could have been somewhere else. It is not based on the material cost of the phone, it is about intellectual property (keep in mind this was not released).

  8. arikol says:

    Hector, leaving something unattended does not equal giving the next passerby the item.

    Additionally, as has been discussed at length there seems to be a law in California regarding expending reasonable energy towards giving an item back. As the “finder” (or thief) actually went into the owners facebook account (among other things) he knew exactly to whom the device belonged, yet he did not return it. The owner called the bar repeatedly to try to get it back, but as the “finder” had just taken it for himself…
    The finder then told all this to Gizmodo, who then knew that the finder was not the legal owner (and could therefore not sell it legally), bought a device for $5000 which should have cost one tenth of that unless something was fishy, accessed the device, screwed it apart and then informed Apple (not the person who had been established as the owner) to tell them that Giz had the device.
    They then had the nerve to tell Apple that they would only give it back if Apple publicly admits that this is their property (when they already had all details necessary to give it back to the owner).
    Giving conditions so someone can get their property back sounds suspiciously like blackmail to my ears.. and that would be against the law (adding to the other possible charges of buying stolen property, property damage and others)
    This could be serious for Giz, if the real lawyers are to be believed.

    And serves them right for their low morals (buying an item which was obviously ill gotten), butterfingered handling of the whole thing (naming the owner publicly) as well as general sleaziness (they seemed proud of their checkbook journalism).

    • Cybernia says:

      The “finder” tried to return it to Apple and was told that it was a “Chinese knock-off” and they didn’t want it, so he sold it to Gizmodo.

      Either way, if Apple’s hand is anywhere near this, that’s not good press. Not good press at all.

    • technosean says:

      I’m with @arikol on this one.

      They paid 10x retail value for something that was obviously someone else’s and basically attempted blackmail on Apple. “Admit something, and then you can have it back.”

      It might be one thing if Gizmodo were uncovering evidence of a crime, other abuse, or shady activity on the part of Apple. But this was a paid for attempt to obtain trade secrets that have no more impact than revealing a product before the company is ready to release it.

      Looks like they’re guilty under California law, and I think they deserve the search and should be prosecuted.

  9. Anonymous says:

    @hectorinwa. Yes, it is stealing if you keep or sell it. According to Cal. Civ. Code § 2080 Any person who finds a thing lost is not bound to take charge of it, unless the person is otherwise required to do so by contract or law, but when the person does take charge of it he or she is thenceforward a depositary for the owner, with the rights and obligations of a depositary for hire. Any person or any public or private entity that finds and takes possession of any money, goods, things in action, or other personal property, or saves any domestic animal from harm, neglect, drowning, or starvation, shall, within a reasonable time, inform the owner, if known, and make restitution without compensation, except a reasonable charge for saving and taking care of the property.

    § 2080.1. Delivery to police or sheriff; affidavit; charges

    (a) If the owner is unknown or has not claimed the property, the person saving or finding the property shall, if the property is of the value of one hundred dollars ($100) or more, within a reasonable time turn the property over to the police department of the city or city and county, if found therein, or to the sheriff’s department of the county if found outside of city limits, and shall make an affidavit, stating when and where he or she found or saved the property, particularly describing it.

  10. HealthStudent says:

    My Droid was stolen from a bar (not lost, stolen.) When I reported the theft, the police literally laughed at me. I wasn’t offended. I mean, I get it, phone thefts aren’t a high priority crime in NYC.

    …But after reading this story, maybe I should go back and ask that they start kicking in doors for me?

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      When I reported the theft, the police literally laughed at me. I wasn’t offended. I mean, I get it, phone thefts aren’t a high priority crime in NYC.

      If the thief had, for instance, taken a video with the phone and posted it on YouTube describing how it was stolen, the police response might have been a bit different. Your story = needle in haystack. Gizmodo story = needle jabbed into face.

    • Anonymous says:

      Well, in all those “MobileMe helped me nab my iPhone thief” stories – all it seems to take is knowing where your iPhone is to get the cops involved. (Just like in this case!)

      To Gizmodo / Jason Chen:
      Publicly telling everyone that you paid for something you believed/assumed/hoped was something that could not possibly belong to the person selling it is admitting to buying what you believed to be ill-gotten goods.

      If you think the stolen phone is stolen, but aren’t positive – it doesn’t cancel itself out because you aren’t sure. You should have at least FEIGNED ignorance.

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you know who stole it? Is there documentation showing it was sold/bought by a third party? Did the third party flaunt it on a popular tech website (that they had your property)? If so, then I think you should be outraged, too.

  11. Thalia says:

    First, it was stolen goods, as California law specifies that if you find something that you know someone else has lost, you have to keep it for the original owner (Cal. Civ. Code § 2080). When the original finder sold it, he committed theft.

    Second, Gizmodo was clearly knowingly receiving stolen goods, a felony. (Cal. Penal Code 496)

    Third, the Shield Law only protects Gizmodo from held in contempt for failing to divulge the name of the original owner. It doesn’t provide any protection against criminal or civil charges. (Cal. Evidence Code § 1070.)

  12. Rob Beschizza says:

    Anything that amounts to “it’s just a cellphone” is a copout! Regardless of which side makes that call.

    Re Journalism, quality has nothing to do with it. You just have to research, publish and be read. The gray area, even outside of the Blogger Rights Outrage Zone, is whether unpaid local amateur types get the same protections as professionals.

    • arkizzle / Moderator says:

      Rob, but surely in this case, the Gizmodo journalist has become an accessory to theft, rather than just being a conduit for the story.

      If they had reported the story, without facilitating it themselves, they likely would have more protection from police intrusion.

  13. kaffeen says:

    Good Lord, I’m glad that when I went to Paris and my wife left her purse with our passports, credit cards, and money that the person who found it had the decency to turn it into the cafe (and wasn’t some Gizmodo blogger).

    Some of you make it sound like someone has the “right” to take something that is not theirs depending on the circumstance.

    Whenever I “find” something I turn it into the manager of the establishment I found it. Whenever there is no establishment, I try to contact the owner (if applicable). As last option I turn it over the police.

    This all went wrong from the time someone “found” this phone. Gizmodo was just the exclamation point on a series of wrongs. Personally, I hope they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Every single one of the people involved after the engineer LOST his phone.

    Keep in mind, this is coming from a person who pretty much despises Apple. This isn’t about the phone or the company…this is about ethics, morality, and crime.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Although I find Apple and their hype factory extremely annoying, their products overpriced and their philosophy quite limiting I must agree that in this whole iPhone 4G case Gizmodo acted quite irresponsibly. I don’t even think that employee even forgot the phone, it’s most likely that certain someone stole it. And Gizmodo even paid money for obtaining something that was either misplaced or stolen? I think the police can’t look the other way when such a suspicious case is all over the place and rightfully makes an investigation.

  15. Brett Myers says:

    Why would he try returning it to Apple? If you found a laptop or a wallet or watch, would you try calling the manufacturer instead of the presumed owner?

    • igpajo says:

      Because, in this case the finder obviously knew he had an Apple prototype. It seems to me that Apple would be the next obvious choice after trying to find the owner.

  16. kaffeen says:

    The fact that Chen (or the organization he represents) bought the phone removes him from any discussion about potential conflicts/rights/definition of being a journalist.

    This is not a case where a *real* journalist had a story given to him from a source and was reporting a story third person.

    This is the equivalent of me buying *your* stolen car, driving it for two weeks, tearing it apart, and then blogging about it to protect me.

    Ridiculous.

  17. Rob Beschizza says:

    We can’t say anything meaningful about crimes committed until someone’s been charged with them. I know it seems obvious that certain crimes occurred here, but until a prosecutor decides this is the case and we know whose guesses were correct, it’s just speculation. “Tech bloggers, professors of law” is the worst sport on the internet.

  18. hinten says:

    Since when does not knowig the law (where does it come from?) protect you from the law?

  19. robulus says:

    OK, I’m officially past the “publicity stunt by Apple” phase, but now I’m pretty seriously bogged in the “why was that dude carrying around a highly secret prototype” phase.

    Like, you know, standing in a bar and making a call, and someone says, “oh nice phone, what is it?”, and the guy has to make them sign a binding confidentiality agreement on the spot. It seems mad. Wouldn’t this be strictly controlled?

    Have we covered this? Can someone bring me a up to speed?

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, it’s been covered =)

      The prototype was encased in a iPhone 3GS shell, so from the outside it looked like any other iPhone.

    • peterbruells says:

      He was carrying it for live testing in a real environment. The phone was camouflaged and last time I looked, you weren’t obliged to discuss what kind of phone you used with random people in bars.

  20. teapot says:

    Wont this story every die? Stop clogging the tubes!

    I agree: lost property is not stolen property. It all comes down to how the ‘finder’ behaved before getting the phone. Was it premeditated? Did they change their normal behaviour in order to gain possession of the phone (deception/acting)?

    If it was a matter of ‘huh, wtf is that? omg someone lost their iphone. OMG it seems like a special iphone’ Then I really dont care.

  21. Hans Grueber says:

    This whole saga makes Apple look nothing less than fanatical. Laws were broken, but this response seems utterly disproportionate and reeks of bullying.

    http://geekcomforts.com/2010/04/the-iphone-saga/

  22. Anonymous says:

    A sticky point in the story: The guy who found the phone supposedly knew enough to figure out this is a prototype and who to contact for a juicy deal; but he didn’t know enough to put the phone offline (remove sim card & turn off wifi) so that it couldn’t be traced/wiped?

    hmm….

    captcha: and shambles

  23. Andrew Denny says:

    I remember a few years ago when Nick Park accidentally left the original models of Wallace & Gromit in a NYC taxi when on a promotional tour for his movie. The taxi driver returned them the next day when he realised what had happened, refused any reward, and sought no publicity.

    I’m also reminded of Alistair Cooke recalling his father declining any praise for returning lost property: “You might as well thank a man for not robbing a bank.”

  24. Anonymous says:

    In most states “receiving stolen property” is a crime with an assumption of guilt: if you had something that was stolen, you knew it was stolen.

  25. jdk998 says:

    Couple of points:

    1. Gizmodo admitted they paid $5000 for the phone. That establishes a baseline value for the phone and exceeds the $1000 value for felony theft.

    2. The journalistic exception under the Calif. penal code is to protect journalistic sources, but it is applied after legal proceedings have begun to exclude evidence. Inapplicable here.

    3. Gizmodo claims that the finder attempted to contact Apple to return the device. This fact has not been established from what I have read.

    4. The finder did not turn the phone over to the owner or to police, as is required under Calif. code for items in excess of $100 in value. He sold it to a 3rd party.

    5. Finally, if the verification of the newest iPhone causes Apple to take a $100M charge (or other significant amount) due to inventory write down before the launch, that is indeed a significant economic loss. However, I would say that Apple is responsible for that failure.

    IANAL.

  26. gwailo_joe says:

    Seems to me that Apple is f**king up here. Yes, that phone did not belong to the guy who sold it and the guy that bought it knew it. And he posted pics and whatnot of this thing that some fool employee lost. Gotta admit that is one hell of a scoop for someone who considers himself a ‘tech blogger’.

    My point is; yes, the law is the law. But not all laws (duh) are just. . .and how much should this person be punished? He DID return it when asked (yes, the law don’t care, but still), at least he did not go to Palm or HTC and try to sell it to them. . .

    Write a nasty letter, take him to court if you must Steve. . .but seizure of computers? WTF for? So high profile. . .so stupid. Terrible publicity for a company riding so high (and with a stock so overvalued)

  27. theLadyfingers says:

    I wonder what other evidence of “wrongdoing” they’ll find on a tech-head’s PC?

  28. someToast says:

    Wait… so they’re saying that the warrant was invalid and the computer hardware illegally seized?

    I know a website that will pay good money for those items.

  29. Patrick Austin says:

    Legal technicalities aside, this is not about the $5000 or the cost of the prototype. Gizmodo made a bunch of money by robbing Apple of whatever financial benefit they normally get from keeping things tightly under wraps. The value of controlling so much public attention is huge, whether it’s used to sell advertising or phones.

    Regardless of whether or not the phone was stolen, or whether Apple is a righteous company, what Gizmodo did strikes me as morally questionable. They’re not doing a public service here. They’re telling other people’s secrets for profit.

    I still think it’s reasonable to expect journalistic protections for the larger bloggy sites, though, if not for every doofus with a blogger account. Blogs have a lot more in common with journalism circa 1776 than any of the News Corp subsidiaries do.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Maybe Apple could just get the police to kick the tar out of Mr. Chen just like they had their plant security do to that photographer in China.

    Global Village right?

  31. Aaron says:

    With all this fuss over whether Chen is a “journalist” (he is), can we stop for a moment and consider whether Gaby Darbyshire is a “lawyer?”

    She isn’t, at least in the United States. She’s Gawker’s COO. She has a law degree from the UK, but she’s not a member of any U.S. bar association.

    It’s clear from her letter she has almost no knowledge of California criminal law. She complains that the search is illegal because it was conducted at night. Guess what? “Night” is defined as between the hours of 10 pm and 7 am: http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/1533.html

    Chen says he returned home at 9:45 pm, and the search had already been underway for some time.

    If Gawker’s “lawyer” can’t even bother with a simple Google search before firing off a letter, I worry about her advice before Gawker paid $5,000 for a “found” phone that the law considers stolen.

    I hope Jason Chen has a good attorney who’s not provided by his employer. He’s going to need one.

  32. Avram / Moderator says:

    By way of John Gruber, here are some relevant bits of California law:

    California’s penal code, section 485:

    One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.

    California’s civil code, section 2080.1:

    If the owner is unknown or has not claimed the property, the person saving or finding the property shall, if the property is of the value of one hundred dollars ($100) or more, within a reasonable time turn the property over to the police department of the city or city and county, if found therein, or to the sheriff’s department of the county if found outside of city limits, and shall make an affidavit, stating when and where he or she found or saved the property, particularly describing it.

    California’s penal code, section 496:

    (a) Every person who buys or receives any property that has been stolen or that has been obtained in any manner constituting theft or extortion, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, or who conceals, sells, withholds, or aids in concealing, selling, or withholding any property from the owner, knowing the property to be so stolen or obtained, shall be punished by imprisonment in a state prison, or in a county jail for not more than one year. However, if the district attorney or the grand jury determines that this action would be in the interests of justice, the district attorney or the grand jury, as the case may be, may, if the value of the property does not exceed nine hundred fifty dollars ($950), specify in the accusatory pleading that the offense shall be a misdemeanor, punishable only by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.

    Gizmodo admits to having paid $5000 for the device, so it’s going to be tough for them to argue that it’s value is less than $950 or $100.

    • Stooge says:

      Gruber left out (at least) one very relevant bit of California’s Penal Code.

      Section 499c covers theft (and even unauthorised use) of computer systems, protypes, trade secrets and whatnot. The most interesting bit is right at the end: “In a prosecution for a violation of this section, it shall be no defense that the person returned or intended to return the article.”

      • arikol says:

        yeah, the lawyer that posted a few days ago mentioned that but didn’t show the wording. She did say, however, that the hard part for Apple would be proving trade secrets in this case (if I understood correctly)

        But if they CAN prove this then I don’t envy Giz.
        A few days of extra traffic, thn thy gt bggrd n th prsn shwr fr whl. Not a good benefit/cost ratio, if you ask me.

  33. Anonymous says:

    “The day we simply accept what our government, our military and our police do is the day we give up our liberty.” Well, welcome to Slave World. You gave up your liberty when you acquiesced to the Homeland Security Act… when you allowed bully-boy sky marshals to make you remain in your seats, hands on head because somebody else got a little stroppy. You gave up your liberty when you forwent the right to complain or protest your treatment at the airport for fear of being arrested for no good reason and placed on a no-fly list… You gave up your liberty the day you decided you would rather be safe from terrorist than to be free, even though the statistical risk from terrorism makes bacon a far, far greater risk in your life. Every day you fail to protest or register dissent over chickenshit petty authority, you give up even more liberty. See you on the CCTV!

    Johnny Rojo

  34. Anonymous says:

    So…what with the current forfeiture laws in the USA, anyone want to guess how much the computers belonging to a person tasked with staying up to date with technology might fetch at auction?

  35. sloverlord says:

    I know this is a dumb question before I ask it, but are there any lawyers who can comment on whether this was legal? I know it’s illegal (at least in California) to seize the property of journalists and that there have been court cases ruling that bloggers are journalists, but Chen did buy what were obviously stolen goods, which is a felony. Do legal protections to journalists apply even if they do something against the law?

    • kc0bbq says:

      “I know this is a dumb question before I ask it, but are there any lawyers who can comment on whether this was legal? I know it’s illegal (at least in California) to seize the property of journalists and that there have been court cases ruling that bloggers are journalists”

      Where would you draw the line? If all you need to do to safely fence stolen goods is to make sure they are written about on a blog you’re pretty much legalizing a lot of things that should not be legal.

      Shield laws shouldn’t be there to allow theft. Being a blogger shouldn’t put you into a position where you can buy stuff a reasonable person would realize is stolen.

    • Anonymous says:

      Reading through the section 1070 that the COO quotes, it all appears to apply to a journalist protecting their sources. Specifically subsection C refers to “unpublished information”. If they hadn’t have been such loudmouths about how they got the phone they woulud be covered. Since they were very public about how it came to be in their possession, including the fact that they had reasonable knowledge that it did not actually belong to the person they purchased it from, I think they screwed themselves. I’d be willing to bet that the prosecutors obtained the warrant in the interest of subsatntiating evidence of the purchase of stolen goods. They alreay have quite a bit of evidence as provided by Gizmodo themselves.

    • Anonymous says:

      according to futurezone.orf.at (a rather high quality tech-site of the national broadcasters) it’s illegal in carlifornia to do this to a journalist, but it’s yet to be decided if bloggers count as journalists.

  36. jwb says:

    Headlines I am still waiting to read:

    “Police seize Dick Cheney’s computers”

  37. Anonymous says:

    It wasn’t an anonymous source. It was a thief. The blogger that bought the phone was receiving stolen goods. The only legal thing the original finder of the phone could do is turn it over to the police.

  38. greyline says:

    I think some people might disagree that Jason Chen is a “journalist”.

    • dbarak says:

      The question isn’t “Is Jason Chen a journalist?” but “Is Jason Chen a GOOD journalist?”

      Journalists are essentially proxies for the rest of society, for people who don’t have the time or desire to report the news on their own. As such, everyone in society could claim the title of journalist – there isn’t any licensing involved, no official training path.

      However, GOOD journalists usually have had training and mentoring in their chosen profession, and they understand the basic tenets of reporting. Breaking the law generally isn’t considered a foundation of good journalism.

      But as with everything in life, there can be exceptions. For instance, The New York Times published “The Pentagon Papers,” top-secret documents leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. Divulging classified information is a crime, and publishing the same is a crime. But it was a big, important story, so was the crime justified? There are good arguments for and against.

      I can’t see any good arguments for what Jason Chen did considering the relative unimportance of the story. No lives were saved, no breaches of Constitutional law were involved, no abuses of power. Just a new phone.

    • sloverlord says:

      It doesn’t matter what “some people” think, it matters what the law thinks. See O’Grady vs. Apple.

  39. Chanfan says:

    From a cursory reading of the documents and the quoted section of law, it does appear that the law is for protecting against search and seizure of journalists property for finding sources.

    However, I can’t imagine it’s off limits to do so if the journalist is the suspect of a felony.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Wasn’t Nick Denton just saying how great it was to be outside the tent pissing in regarding this whole fiasco??? Looks like he’s not the only one with a penchant for giving golden showers.

  41. grimc says:

    If they didn’t check his pants, they didn’t get everything.

    • nutbastard says:

      hey! they never DID mention in all their iPhone 4G coverage whether or not he ceremoniously pantsed it.

      course then they could make him register for sexually assaulting stolen property…

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