A court in California has ruled that bloggers who published Apple trade secrets on the web must reveal their sources.
Apple sued the bloggers behind Powerpage, Apple Insider and Think Secret after they published details about a forthcoming product codenamed Asteroid. The websites' internet provider Nfox must now give up records that may show who posted the information.
"Even if the movants are journalists, this is not the equivalent of a free pass," said Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg.
"The journalist's privilege is not absolute. For example, journalists cannot refuse to disclose information when it relates to a crime."
The judge found that neither the First Amendment nor California's journalists' shield laws applied in this case, since Apple was attempting to sue the leakers rather than the people publishing the websites.
"We are disappointed that the trial court ignored the Supreme Court's requirement that seeking a journalist's confidential sources be a 'last resort' in civil discovery," said staff attorney Kurt Opsahl from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
"Instead, the court asserts a wholesale exception to the journalist's privilege when the information is alleged to be a trade secret."
Apple has made no comment since the decision. The EFF has vowed to appeal.
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