Bloggers win victory in Apple v. Does

In a victory for bloggers as journalists, a California appeals court today issued a decision preventing Apple Computer from forcing the disclosure of unnamed individuals who allegedly leaked information about new Apple products to online news sites. In a 69-page opinion in O’Grady v. Superior Court, the California Court of Appeal said that the trial court erred in refusing to grant an order protecting against disclosure of their identities.

“We hold that this was error because (1) the subpoena to the email service provider cannot be enforced consistent with the plain terms of the federal Stored Communications Act (18 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2712); (2) any subpoenas seeking unpublished information from petitioners would be unenforceable through contempt proceedings in light of the California reporter’s shield (Cal. Const., art. I, § 2, subd (b); Evid. Code, § 1070); and (3) discovery of petitioners’ sources is also barred on this record by the conditional constitutional privilege against compulsory disclosure of confidential sources (see Mitchell v. Superior Court (1984) 37 Cal.3d 268 (Mitchell)). Accordingly, we will issue a writ of mandate directing the trial court to grant the motion for a protective order.”

Denise Howell has more analysis of the decision. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has background.