Special master

Gizmodo gets a special master

June 3, 2010: 5:15 PM ET

The court orders a search of a journalist's hard drives in the case of the lost iPhone

Jason Chen with prototype. Credit: Gizmodo

Gawker Media has backed down -- to a degree -- and agreed to allow the search of computers belonging to one of its editors, Gizmodo's Jason Chen.

Gawker, which owns Gizmodo, paid $5,000 for a secret prototype iPhone lost in a bar last March by an Apple (AAPL) engineer. Initially it insisted that Chen, who had handed over the cash, broke open the device and published photographs of its components, was protected by California's press shield laws.

According to a report Thursday by CNET's Greg Sandoval and Declan McCullagh, Gawker's lawyer has agreed to let a special master -- a third party appointed by the court -- examine the computers and determine what contents, if any, are relevant to the case. The special master's findings will be sent to Chen and his lawyers so they can make any objections. The judge will ultimately decide what evidence will get sent to the district attorney.

Meanwhile, Apple CEO Steve Jobs, speaking about the case Tuesday evening at the Wall Street Journal's D8 conference, made it clear that he had no intention of backing down.

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