Sometimes I think bloggers have a higher view of themselves than is warranted. Take the case of Apple Computer, Inc. Apple went after several websites for publishing confidential proprietary information leaked by Apple employees to these websites.
The sites are decrying Apple for denying their first amendment rights through Apple’s suit against the sites. Apple’s suit demands the names of the leaking parties.
First, the First Amendment protects us from the government, not from individuals and companies. Second, when you publish confidential information and that information came from individuals who signed nondisclosure agreements, you have helped those individuals breach their agreement.
I don’t have sympathy for these websites. Sure, I too like to get inside scoops and have facilitated leaks. But, if I have knowledge that I’m facilitating someone breaching their non-disclosure agreement (and these sites knew there were NDAs), then I should be prepared to go to jail on a contempt charge or release the name of the leaker.
The first amendment does not come into play regardless of what these websites think. The Supreme Court has consistently held that journalists do not have protections above and beyond what individuals have — we all have the same freedom of press protections. But, while we have freedom of press, that does not give us carte blanc to write whatever we want and it does not give us full freedom to report information leaked in a breach of confidence.
The first amendment argument is just silly and Apple is well within its rights to take legal action. It cannot punish the websites for reporting the information, but it sure can make them cough up their sources.
Oh, and why is this such a big black eye for Apple in the media? Because the media is a self centered lot that protects its own and has become convinced that journalists really do have some sort of protection above and beyond the real protections offered by the First Amendment.