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Originally published April 9, 2005 at 12:00 AM | Page modified April 11, 2005 at 10:43 AM

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Apple, news companies fight over confidential sources

News-media organizations joined an effort to keep Apple Computer from forcing online publishers to disclose their sources of confidential...

Bloomberg News

News-media organizations joined an effort to keep Apple Computer from forcing online publishers to disclose their sources of confidential information about new Apple products.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 12 news organizations filed papers supporting the online publishers' request that a California judge reconsider his refusal to shield the publishers from Apple's inquiries. The organizations include the Los Angeles Times and Hearst.

"We thought the order would set a dangerous precedent and make it more difficult for journalists to cover stories," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee and lawyer for the news groups.

"There's a trend right now toward government and private parties using journalists as investigators for their cases."

Judge James Kleinberg of Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose, Calif., on March 3 decided Apple could subpoena two online news sites, the e-mail service provider for one of the sites, and the publisher of a third Web site.

Apple seeks to find out who gave the Web sites information about its GarageBand software, used to record and mix music.

The information appeared in online articles in November, and Apple sued the Web sites the following month.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy group, is representing the Web sites.

Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment on the news media organizations' filing, and reiterated the Cupertino- based company's position in the case.

"Apple has filed a civil complaint against unnamed individuals who we believe stole our trade secrets and posted detailed information about an unannounced Apple product on the Internet,"Dowling said. "Apple's DNA is innovation, and the protection of our trade secrets is crucial to our success."

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