Eurydice - 3:32 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)
No, it's not "finders keepers". In nearly every developed country, laws protect the owner: if you find something, you are morally obligated to return it. Gizmodo didn't merely return it: they opened up a prototype and released all of the details.
The search warrant is just step one. Apple will press for criminal charges. Chen is very likely facing jail.
Step two: The finder will be identified (that was the point of the search warrants.) He too will be arrested and faces jail time. He'd better save his $5,000 for legal fees.
Step three: Civil charges against Chen. Apple will sue him for damages. If Apple gets a successful criminal conviction, Apple can sue him in civil court.
Step four: A lawsuit against Gizmodo. This is an iPhone, with sales in the hundreds of millions of dollars. So the lawsuit could easily ask for $50-100m in damages. It'll never go to trial; Apple will sue and Gawker will settle: turn over their assets and shut down.
Gawker and Gizmodo are dead.
Steve Jobs is an Old Testament God. Scorched earth. Plow the fields and sow it with salt. Put them all to the sword. Rain fire and brimstone on their heads.