Gizmodo editor reunited with seized goods
Search warrant withdrawn in purloined iPhone prototype saga
Gizmodo editor Jason Chen will get his stuff back. The San Mateo, California, district attorney petitioned for and was granted a withdrawal of the search warrant that his office used to seize a trove of materials from Chen's home in the purloined–iPhone 4 prototype investigation.
"All items seized shall be returned forthwith to Gizmodo.com and Jason Chen" orders the order, which was brought to our attention by a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which also obtained a copy (pdf) of the court document.
The materials — which include computers, hard drives, mobile phones, and more — were taken from Chen's home by the police in one of the more dramatic scenes in the still-ongoing Gizmodophone opera buffa that began when luckless Apple engineer Gray Powell left his iPhone 4 prototype in a Silicon Valley bierstube.
That moment of carelessness began a multi-character drama starring Powell, Chen, Steve Jobs, and thief, lucky-ducky, opportunist, extortionist and/or heartless bastard Brian Hogan — take your pick from that last string of descriptors, depending upon your opinion of the entire affair.
The EFF made its own point of view clear in its report of the search warrant's withdrawal: "As EFF repeatedly noted at the time, the warrant-backed search of Chen's home was illegal as it violated California Penal Code section 1524(g)'s prohibition against the issuance of warrants for 'unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public'."
The EFF goes on to note, however, that the order to give Chen back his equipment doesn't put the matter to bed: "As we pointed out, the police could (for example) attempt to subpoena the same material without running afoul of section 1524(g) and still proceed with their case."
As sagacious backstop Yogi Berra explained: "It ain't over till it's over." ®
Jason should sue the snot out of San Mateo County for illegal search and siezure.
And the DA and Steve Jobs should be up on influence peddling charges by the state.
There ARE laws around here. Or were, maybe ... Perhaps "he who has the gold makes the rules" is becoming more and more true. Couple that with Jobs' reality distortion field ... ::sighs::
No. Not theft.
If you find a piece of haberdashery in a bar after the owner has left said bar, a gentleman would hand it over the the bar's lost+found. A cad would say "I'm 'aving that!" ... and that would be the end of the matter ... at least until the prior owner of said piece of haberdashery ran into said cad sporting the bit of kit and promptly punched him on the nose & retrieved it.
It's the same thing as finding change on the street. Or even large quantities of cash. The assumption of the law is that the old owner doesn't care enough about it to keep track of it, so the finder can keep it. I found an unmarked envelope on the street containing two $1,000 bills and 14 $100 bills when I was 7 years old (mid 1960s). My folks turned it into the Palo Alto Police department ... after a period of time (6 weeks, I think, could have been more or less), the cops called & allowed as to how I was a "rich" 7 year old ... The desk sergeant told my dad that next time, just keep it ... save everybody time & trouble.
And don't forget that Jason *TRIED* to return the item to Apple. Apple refused.
 Lets face it, all iThingies are haberdashery first, tools second. And even then, if I find a screwdriver, wrench(spanner) or hammer in the street, if it's in good nick I'm going to take it home and put it to use.
I hope that "it ain't over" yet...
I found this to be a very disturbing story. That Apple can use government law enforcement agencies as an extension of its own internal security department is very worrisome. I would hope that Chan, and Gizmodo, will initiate lawsuits, which will in turn make clear the chain of events that lead to the seizures. And that the culpable parties will receive appropriately harsh sanctions, even if the culpable parties include Apple. I would also hope that Federal authorities will also be interested in investigating this clear and obvious perversion of law enforcement power that was committed at Apple's behest against Chen and Gizmodo.
I don't know if any of you ever got items back after them being seized but from what i've read usually the items are never returned to you in the same condition.
It would be like having your home searched for no reason, to me i'd be looking to sale the house.
This guy had his rights violated, this was a phone for god sakes not a nuclear bomb they were after.
For them to do all of this just goes to show who runs this country, the corporations.
At the end of the day, it all makes apple look bad and hopefully both apple and the police will be violated just like this person was.
Not stolen property
To all those above going on about the iPhone in question being stolen property, no it isn't. It's *lost* property, which was (intentionally or accidentally) abandoned by it's owner in a public place and subsequently picked up by the finder. While we may hold that there is a *moral* obligation for a finder of lost property to return it to the police or owner, there is no *legal* obligation to do so. If I find someone's dropped wallet in the street, it's up to me whether I do the "right" thing and give it back, or put any cash in it into my own pocket and dump the rest in a bin, or even sell it to someone who can then choose to return or rape it. For my part, I'd hand it back because I'm that sort of person, but I'm not legally required to do so.
So Chen is by no means guilty of buying "stolen" property, he bought "lost" property, which is a completely different game.