Gizmodo let off the iPhone hook

Tech magazine Gizmodo, which ran photos of Apple’s iPhone four months before Apple officially acknowledged it existed, will not face any charges.

Gizmodo got its paws on an iPhone 4 prototype after an Apple employee accidentally left his iPhone 4 at a California bar. It was found by Brian Hogan who hawked it to Gizmodo for $10,000. They ran a story and showed off what they had paid for.

The Tame Apple Press was furious with Gizmodo. After running stories that the phone was a fake, they insisted that fellow hacks should be jailed for possession of stolen or misappropriated property.

Apple got its gear back but then “assisted” the local plod in retaliation raids against Gizmodo reporters. The Tame Apple Press cheered as taxpayer-paid coppers broke down the door of the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen and confiscated all his computers.

Now, it turns out that Gizmodo and Jason Chen have done nothing wrong. Both been cleared of any illegal conduct with respect to the entire iPhone 4 saga.

In a press release, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office said that it has filed misdemeanour charges against two individuals for the misappropriation of an iPhone 4 prototype that was lost by an Apple employee and subsequently recovered in a Redwood City establishment by the defendants on March 25, 2010.

Brian Hogan, Sage Wallower have been charged with one count of misappropriation of lost property. They will face a judge on August 25.

Wallower is a UC Berkley student who was the go-between who Hogan used to hawk the stolen iPhone 4 around to various tech sites.

Gawker Media, which owns Gizmodo, said that it was pleased that the District Attorney of San Mateo County, had found that it had committed no crime.

“We have always believed that we were acting fully within the law, it has inevitably been stressful for the editor concerned, Jason Chen, and we are glad that we can finally put this matter behind us,” the atatement said.

The muted response appears to be that Gizmodo believes it is lucky, certainly there were some of us that were surprised that the local coppers acted as Jobs’ Mob’s personal security team and were expecting charges to follow.