Loc: Hampstead, MD, USA
The problem I see is that I've read somewhere along the line Apple was contacted about returning the phone and the guy was given the runaround. That pretty much tosses any criminality and/or claims of theft out the window if true.
Honestly I find the whole notion of theft in this situation laughable to begin with. The phone was lost at a bar. I bet if the phone had turned into the cops, 30 days later it would still have been sitting there.
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The act of selling it is what made it theft, from what I understand. California law apparently has a specified amount of time between finding something, and being able to call it yours.
They had the guy's Facebook account, could have contacted him directly. Apparently he was calling the bar frantically trying to find it afterwards. Who takes a lost phone from a bar anyway? Isn't it pretty much common practice to give lost items to the owner of the establishment in case someone comes back looking for it?
Heck, the guy could have emailed Steve Jobs personally and I'm guessing he'd have gotten a hero cookie.
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1 - Rumor is that Gizmodo paid the Mystery Man some cash for the device - if thats true than Gizmodo could be in some Kim Chee . It is Gizmodo responsibility to ensure that ownership is free and clear - does not matter if the device is lost or stolen and to pay for it on top of that .
2 - Gizmodo then publishes said device for the world to see a secret prototype which = (Industrial Espionage) <-- hence is where the Felony Count is coming from ?
I betcha Gizmodo brain wave was a lost and found device (Finders Keepers , Loser Sweepers) - Ahhh no not for something like that , maybe a lost cheap watch or a dollar found on the ground . But they seemed to know what it was and what it meant to Apple .
Now If Gizmodo made every attempt with documentation to contact Apple and or gave it to the police than everything would be different .
Loc: Alexandria, VA
1. Gizmodo paid $5,000 for the device ...
2. Gizmodo purchased the device with full knowledge that the seller was not the legal owner, which makes Gizmodo guilty of knowingly purchasing stolen goods. The Felony comes in under CA law essentially because the value of the item was over $450 (I think that's the magic number), as established by the purchase price ...
You're right that if Gizmodo had bought the item and then immediately returned it to Apple, the obvious owner, the case might be a bit more nuanced (although, technically, they would have still knowingly purchased stolen goods -- intent here possibly being a mitigating factor) ...
Instead they proceeded to dismantle the thing, take pictures and provide commentary, particularly noting the Apple stamps, etc., and post all of this information on their web site. There's no way their intentions were anything beyond getting a scoop and certainly their methods were not in the better traditions of journalism. I for one hope they get the book thrown at them.
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