California laws are very specific about how lost or stolen property should be handled — and purchasing it for journalistic use is not among the sanctioned options. So commentators are questioning whether tech blog Gizmodo crossed a line when it bought an iPhone prototype reportedly left behind in a Silicon Valley bar by an Apple engineer and published a series of articles about it. Thus far, Gawker Media — parent company of Gizmodo — has denied any wrongdoing, but will it face legal trouble for purchasing the misplaced gadget?
Gizmodo broke the law: "Put simply," says Jeff Bercovici in Daily Finance, "Gawker Media brazenly, publicly flouted the law." It "subsidize[d] a crime" by purchasing the "technically stolen" merchandise — presumably from the unnamed party who found it in the bar. If Steve Jobs sues, "he will have justice on his side."
"Why Apple could sue Gawker over 'lost' iPhone story"
Don't be so sure: "Gizmodo pointedly stated that they weren't ever quite sure this was a real next iPhone until Apple" sent a letter demanding the device be returned, says blogger Choire Sicha in The Awl. So it's difficult to argue that they knowingly purchased stolen merchandise.
"Everyone is so upset for crime victim Steve Jobs"
This whole headache is Apple's fault: Regardless of whether Gizmodo's actions were "ethically questionable or not," says Jeff Bertolucci in PC World, Apple "had the chance to quash the story... and blew it": The person who found the phone "attempted to return the device to Apple by phoning the company's contact and support numbers, but his efforts were unsuccessful."
"Apple screwed up handling iPhon Gizmo-gate"