Massachusetts (AP) -- A Web site that disclosed
Apple's top-secret plans to bring out a $499 mini
computer and a new bare-bones iPod -- prompting a
lawsuit from the company -- turns out to be the
brainchild of a 19-year-old Harvard University
Nicholas M. Ciarelli, who
says he had been "an enthusiastic fan" of
Apple for years, said Friday hopes to find free or
low-cost legal help to defend the suit, arguing that
he deserves First Amendment protection.
At the company's annual
MacWorld conference Tuesday in San Francisco, Apple
Computer Inc. chief executive Steve Jobs introduced a
cut-rate computer the size of a paperback and a tiny
iPod music player that starts at $99.
reliable sources," Ciarelli's Web site,
www.thinksecret.com, had reported December 28 that the
company would be bringing out a $499 Mac mini
computer. On January 6, it predicted the $99 iPod,
though it got some details wrong.
Ciarelli's identity as
the site's editor and publisher was revealed on
Wednesday in The Harvard Crimson, the student
Apple sued Think Secret
on January 4, contending the Web site violated trade
secrets. Besides the site, it named as defendants
unidentified sources who tipped off the online
publication about the launch.
"solicited information about unreleased Apple
products from these individuals, who violated their
confidentiality agreements with Apple by providing
details that were later posted on the Internet,"
said Apple in a statement.
But Ciarelli said his
articles were protected by the First Amendment and
that information was gathered using proper
"A lot of lawyers
are interested in my case, but few are able to do it
for free or low cost," Ciarelli, of Cazenovia,
New York, said in an e-mail interview. "I'm
Ciarelli has been editing
and publishing the site under the pen name "Nick
dePlume" since age 13. The site, which accepts
advertising, is popular with enthusiasts of the
company's products and industry analysts.
Apple declined to answer
questions Friday about whether it would now sue