Free-speech advocates declared victory after Apple Computer announced Tuesday that it wouldn't continue its legal attack against various bloggers for leaking information about upcoming Apple products. Apple was dealt a legal setback in the case when a court declined to decide whether bloggers were entitled to the same legal protections as "real" journalists. However, the court did rule that Apple couldn't subpoena the bloggers' email records.

After reviewing its options--and no doubt the widespread public outrage--Apple decided not to pursue an appeal of the court's verdict, effectively ending the case. Instead, the company could step up its internal investigation and attempt to find out which employees gave insider information to bloggers.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which provided legal assistance to the bloggers, also declared victory, noting that Apple's defeat reinforces the EFF's belief that corporations can't "just take a shortcut through a journalist" to find leaks. Those words echo the original ruling, which noted that Apple "failed to establish that it adequately pursued other possible means to identify the source of the information in question."

What will be interesting is how the case will affect technical journalists and the corporations they cover. Emboldened by what will no doubt be seen as a precedent-setting case, technical journalists might now feel free to publish confidential corporate information. Such a future might be hard to accept for companies such as Apple that use secrecy as a key marketing tool.