If the proposed federal shield were already law, Steve Job (r)could have used the courts, not cash, to silence the blogger Nick Ciarell (l).
AfterÂ a three-year legal fight AppleÂ has silenced a product-rumor web site called Think Secret.Â A Wired NewsÂ article suggests thatÂ the site’s founder,Â 22-year-old Harvard student Nick Ciarelli, sold the site to Apple, which shut it down. It isÂ not clear from the article whether Ciarelli has not to start a new Apple rumor site (that would requireÂ a non-compete clause). CiarelliÂ told Wired:
“It’s great to put this behind us. It’s great that we got a settlement that satisfies both parties.”
My interest in this storyÂ relates to the proposed federal shield law that Congress is expected to take up when it returns to session in January. Wired reports that Apple sured Ciarelli:
“for posting Apple trade secrets and encouraging and inducing persons to provide product information in breach of agreements.”
The proposed shield lawÂ — the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007 –Â Â specificallyÂ directs the courts to compel disclosure of an anonymous source â€œto identify a person who has disclosed a trade secret.” (See text of lawÂ and use the find function to look for “trade secret.”)
Poor Steve Jobs! If only thisÂ sham of aÂ shield were on the books,Â Apple lawyers wouldÂ have been able to obtain a court order to shut down the Think Secret site years ago.
And lucky Nick Ciarelli. Had the shamÂ shield been law, he would not be so satified with his settlement
At some point journalists will read the Free Flow of Information ActÂ and realize that it’s the kind of a shield only secretive Steve Jobs could love.
he new law makes very clear that a company