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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Online editor faces lawsuit from Apple

Associated Press

BOSTON — The 19-year-old publisher of a Web site facing a lawsuit over an article about a top-secret $499 Apple computer said Friday he can’t afford to defend himself.

Apple Computer Inc. is suing Harvard University student Nicholas Ciarelli’s Web site,, alleging it illegally published company trade secrets. The Jan. 4 lawsuit also targets the Web site’s unnamed sources for the leaks.

Ciarelli, whose identity as the site’s publisher and editor was only revealed this week, is not named as a defendant. But he still needs a lawyer, and said he is hoping to find free or low-cost legal help to argue that he deserves First Amendment protection and used proper newsgathering techniques to break news about the Mac mini computer and other inside information about Apple.

“A lot of lawyers are interested in my case, but few are able to do it for free or low cost,” Ciarelli, of Cazenovia, N.Y., said in an e-mail interview. “I’m seeking representation.”

Ciarelli, who described himself as “an enthusiastic fan of Apple’s products since an early age,” started in 1998 when he was 13. The site, which accepts advertising, is read by Apple enthusiasts and industry analysts because of its exclusive stories about developments.

On Dec. 28, the Web site published an article that, citing “highly reliable sources,” revealed details of an inexpensive, bare-bones Mac mini computer that would be priced at $499 — two weeks before the Mac mini was launched at Apple’s MacWorld conference.

Another Think Secret story on Jan. 6 correctly predicted Apple’s rollout at this week’s show of a $149, 1-gigabite version of the company’s popular iPod music player. The Web site goofed, though, on some of the details, citing sources suggesting Apple would also offer a 2-gigabyte version for $199.