Valleywag's $100,000 Bounty For Apple Tablet Leaks May Face Legal Repercussions

Tired of sifting through the mountains of rumors leading up to the (still unconfirmed) debut of the Apple Tablet on January 27? Valleywag, the Silicon Valley-focused Gawker blog, has just announced a bounty for anyone who turns over legitimate photos and/or video of the tablet in action. The rewards range from $10k to $100k depending on the type of media submitted: $10,000 for pictures, $20,000 for video, $50,000 for a photo or video with Steve Jobs holding a Tablet, and $100,000 to “let [Valleywag] play with one for an hour”.

It’s certainly a tempting offer (at least, more tempting than submitting leaked photos and getting zilch in return), but Valleywag may be on the wrong side of the law. We spoke to a lawyer about the legality of the bounty, who says that Apple could have a claim against Gawker/Valleywag for inducing breach of contract, since anyone who has their hands on the tablet is certainly under a nondisclosure agreement. This could result in tort damages, with potential for punitive damages.

Gawker is no stranger to such bounties — they previously offered a $1,000 reward for photos of Nikki Finke, but there’s a difference between scandalous tabloid photos and breaching an NDA. That said, it’s unlikely Gawker chief Nick Denton would launch the promotion without being aware of the risks.

Update: Apple has sent a takedown notice to Gawker over the contest. Gawker is continuing to run the contest anyway, warning users not to break the law to get their submissions:

Apple, of course, has plenty of good lawyers like Michael Spillner, so we reiterate our advice “to stay within the bounds of the law.” And also: use anonymous email addresses! We can’t tell Apple who you are if we don’t know who you are.