Apple Spoils Think Secret

Dennis Faas's picture

I remember one Christmas in grade seven. I completely ruined any surprise my parents may have planned that year by sneaking into their closet and unwrapping all of my gifts before carefully replacing the tape and shelving them just as they had first appeared. Had my parents known, they would have been ticked. It looks as if Apple doesn't like it when people ruin their surprises, either.

Last week the popular iPod and iPhone maker completed a string of lawsuits meant to close down, a site run by Harvard senior Nicholas M Ciarelli. As you might infer from my anecdote and the name of Ciarelli's page, the site was designed specifically for publishing trade secrets. In January of 2005, nearly three years ago, Apple sued Ciarelli for revealing hush-hush details before Steve Jobs could launch them in his typical show of public glitz and glam. (Source:

At the heart of the case has been the question of journalist vs. independent web publisher. Is one more entitled than the other to reveal such secrets? Ciarelli certainly isn't the only site Apple has pursued for revealing secrets, although he is the only who they've had success against. Two other sites were able to prove that the reports were put together by professional journalists protected by the First Amendment. All in all, Apple ended up licking its wounds, forced by the courts to pay roughly $700,000 to the defending web sites.

Ciarelli, for whatever reason, has decided not to take his case that far. Although the specifics of the settlement have not been released, the Harvard student told the media, "We've been able to reach a positive solution." In the end, that means shutting down ThinkSecret. (Source:

Free speech advocates are already concerned with the message being sent by Ciarelli's apparent capitulation. Although it is certainly difficult to ascertain what was agreed upon between the Cupertino-based company and Ciarelli, the latter appears -- on the surface, at least -- to have been squashed like a bug beneath the heavy foot of Apple.

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