Nick dePlume, as the 13-year-old Nicholas Ciarelli dubbed himself in 1998, became more than Internet-famous as the target of an Apple lawsuit. Ciarelli had published leaked details about Apple's Mac Mini two weeks before the hush-hush product's launch. Apple strong-armed him to shut down Think Secret in February. Now, Cirarelli writes on former New Yorker editor Tina Brown's Daily Beast site, Nick's fellow Apple fanbloggers aren't getting legal threats from Apple for leaking the recent iPhone 3G and iPod Nano product updates. Why have Apple's lawyers gone silent? Ciarelli essay boils down to four reasons, bullet-listed here:

  • Apple leaks have shifted from scrappy fan sites into the mainstream. Mac rumors are regularly published by Engadget, owned by AOL. Perhaps Apple is now seeking to avoid legal fisticuffs with more established companies.
  • Apple's legal efforts to identify leakers have been entirely fruitless. And as Apple expands its roster of partners—the iPhone will be sold in 70 countries by the end of the year—the number of people possessing information about future products will increase.
  • Strong-arming fan sites into removing their reports only serves to confirm those reports. Few were following Think Secret's story about the Mac mini until Apple sued us, propelling the leak into the pages of The New York Times.
  • Negative PR ultimately tarnishes Apple's brand when it threatens, subpoenas, and sues sites run by some of its biggest fans.

(Photo by AP/Steven Senne)