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Apple founder urges company to drop bullying lawsuits

Enough's enough - Woz

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Steve Wozniak has reportedly urged the company he co-founded, Apple Computer, to drop a lawsuit against a beta tester who leaked a version of the company's Tiger operating system. He also says he'll contribute to the defendant's legal fund.

"I wish that Apple could find some way to drop the matter. In my opinion, more than appropriate punishment has already been dealt out… I will personally donate $1,000 to the Canadian student's defense," Wozniak wrote in an email to drunkenblog.com.

The 23-year old student Vivek Sambhara is one of three named individuals and 25 "John Does" sued by Apple for making a pre-release of Tiger (Build 8A294) available via BitTorrent. Few dispute that Sambhara erred by breaching his NDA, but Apple's lawsuit seeks "exemplary damages" that would ruin the defendants.

Apple is also suing a number of online publications in an attempt to trace the identity of leakers. In the run up to MacWorld Expo last month, one-man site ThinkSecret published details of Apple's sub-$500 headless Mac, and its founder Nick Ciarelli, a 19-year old Harvard student, found himself on the end of a John Doe lawsuit demanding he reveal his sources. It followed earlier litigation filed in December against two sites - O'Grady's Power Page and AppleInsider - and an ISP, over the publishing of information about a forthcoming Apple audio product 'Aurora'. Last week Apple suspended these subpoenas, according to reports - but the ThinkSecret litigation continues.


Legal experts say the suits have little chance of success - the press has been protected by the First Amendment and specifically by the Californian Constitution - and the true intention of the legal blitz is to bully smaller sites into silence. Now Think Secret has hired a prominent attorney and is heading for a high profile trial that's guaranteed to bring the company a barrage of bad publicity - just when it's trying to promote new, competitive low-cost products to a mass market.

Apple fanatics say that forcing journalists to reveal their sources is perfect acceptable, comparing Ciarelli to a child molester.

With friends like this, why would Apple need enemies? ®

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