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Apple confirms MacWorld rumors with fresh lawsuit

Point legal dept at feet, take aim, fire

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Apple has confirmed the veracity of reports detailing its MacWorld announcements in the most expensive way possible - by filing a civil lawsuit against the website which published them.

ThinkSecret published two scoops describing Apple's plans for Q88, a sub-$500 headless Mac to ship in the first quarter of the year, and iWork, the successor to the AppleWorks suite, which was last updated five years ago. Apple has filed a civil suit against the site's pseudonymous publisher, Nick de Plume, reports CNET.

Apple admits it doesn't know who the author is, but acknowledges that unspecified ThinkSecret stories accurately reveal its marketing plans and technical details of a new computer product. Both articles were still online at the time of writing, despite Apple's claims for damages.

According to Apple, ThinkSecret's reports cause it financial injury. But since the announcements in questions are only expected next week, and the new products have no direct equivalents in Apple's portfolio, it's difficult to see a judge sympathizing.

It's one thing to sue employees or contractors who have broken a pledge of confidentiality - Apple filed suit against three employees who leaked beta Mac OS X binaries and John Doe suits against unknown leakers. It's quite another to use its corporate financial might to stop the press doing its job. Unable to find the leaker, Apple is shooting the messenger instead.

In a particularly rich piece of humbug, Apple also claims it doesn't want to "discourage communication protected by the free-speech guarantees of the United States and California constitutions", but the lawsuit demands not only that the website delete the reports but also that it turns over the identity of its sources.

The latter represents a violation of basic journalist ethics, and if Apple's chilling effects tactic was adopted more widely a free press would no longer be possible, with users solely dependent on corporate press releases, or a corporate PR republishing service, such as Walt Mossberg. Which is exactly how Apple CEO Steve Jobs likes it.®


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