So what explains this apparent sympathy for Hogan and Chen, and hostility toward Apple and the San Mateo police? One possibility is a basic confusion about the fact that finding and failing to return lost property is a crime, a confusion that may be a vestige of the common, but legally mistaken, schoolyard adage, “finders keepers, losers weepers.”
Sympathy doesn’t have to obey the law. Disagreeing with the law doesn’t (necessarily) mean one is confused or mistaken. Heck, you don’t even have to outright disagree with the law to feel sympathy here.
Finally, there’s the misguided idea, long espoused by many in the tech community, that “information wants to be free.” But whether it’s in the form of proprietary trade secrets embodied by Apple’s latest iPhone or intellectual property subject to seemingly endless illegal downloading and file sharing every second of every day, information is not free.
It takes a lot of time and energy and money to write books, compose music, create movies, and design and market electronic devices like iPhones. Such information deserves legal protection, even when it’s been lost in a bar.
(Sarcasm ahead:) Yeah. Apple is going to lose so much money because they let some trade secrets slip here. They’ll probably just get out of the iPhone business now. Without legal protection of their trade secrets, they’d be forced out of business altogether.
That information wants to be free and that there are costs to produce information are not incompatible. Strike all the intellectual property laws off the books, and there will still be books, music, movies, and iPhones. They people who produce those things will still be making money.
Surely trade secrets are the least kind of intellectual property when it comes to the need for legal protection.