In a posting on his blog entitled Is Apple Worth It? Mac journalism veteren Matthew Rothenberg comments on the Think Secret case. As a former MacWEEK’er, Matthew has a very good insight into the relationship between Apple and the media, and into what makes a good story. As he puts it:
No one has ever accused Apple of being too mouthy about its forthcoming products, and no one has ever provided me with a shred of evidence that advance word from Mac sites has reduced Apple sales by a single unit. Nor do I accept the canard that these reports comprise “trade secrets” by any reasonable definition of the phrase. Source code is a trade secret. A report that Apple will release a low-cost Mac the next week is not a trade secret.
This isn’t about the reasonable protection of intellectual property, to which Apple has every right. This is about Apple’s corporate mania for marketing control, which sadly gives the lie to the very corporate image it tries to market.
The definition of what is and is not a trade secret is the key element of the Think Secret case, if you ignore the absurd idea that Think Secret is not engaged in journalism, which is a nonsense of the highest order. If trade secrets means any information about future products, no matter how vague, then every trade magazine and news paper in the world might as well pack up shop and go home. It would open journalists like Mary Jo Foley, who I listened to in an interview this morning talking about Microsoft’s plans to run Linux on Windows, to a law suit every day of the week. It would shift the balance too far in the favour of corporations, and away from items that are of legitimate public interest.