I’m pretty sure that acquiring stolen goods is illegal. That being said, everyone involved in this knew from the get-go that the next gen iPhone, which is only a few weeks away, was indeed stolen. The fact of the matter is that Gizmodo spent $5,000 on this phone, paid by Nick Denton from Gawker media. In essence, at the end of the line, Denton’s the one responsible for this fiasco.
Now this brings to surface another interesting debate: are web-journalists real journalists? The print media would like to disagree, but all in all, I’m certain that if you write for a publication and get paid for your writing, you are a journalist, no matter what the medium might be.
The thing that Jason Chen and Nick Denton didn’t really think about is the fact that Apple isn’t a cuddly little bear, it’s a corporation. Any corporation has access to a full squad of corporate lawyers, meaning that they can make your life hell if you are in their radar.
Having dealt with a few lawyers when I was working in finance a few years ago, I know for a fact that justice is for sale and the people with the deepest pockets tend to win. How does an average citizen afford to pay a lawyer $100-500 an hour? Not easily. Corporations don’t really care about this expenditure. I’m actually surprised that Apple hasn’t made life harder for Denton and company. They probably will in the near future.
I think the main issue here is whether the law considers Jason Chen’s home a newsroom or not. He works from home, like most web journalists. It would be different if he were to work in an office. That would have made things harder for Apple to flex its muscles.
I’ve heard people refer to the actions of Gizmodo as reprehensible. Even though I don’t agree with buying stolen goods, it is akin to someone buying something stolen from a fence. So Gizmodo isn’t a fence, but they bought stolen goods, which is kind of like buying stuff from a fence. They weren’t fencing stolen goods.
No matter which way it goes, I’m sure that Denton is quite happy with himself. What did this fiasco generate? Pageviews. In the world of web journalism, pageviews is the key. This episode has probably resulted in millions of extra pageviews. Since most Gawker bloggers get paid by pageviews, I’m sure that Jason Chen is laughing his way to the bank as well.