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Apple fires employees for Leopard downloads

According to Think Secret, Apple has fired at least five retail Apple Store employees for downloading leaked copies of Leopard. The employees were overheard discussing Leopard--and how they obtained it--with co-workers. Word got back to Cupertino, an investigation was launched, and the employees were fired. "Dozens more" may be getting pink slips soon. Based on TS's interview with one of the ex-employees it sounds like there may be more to the story, though. The person they chatted with mentioned violating the terms of an NDA, and it's not clear to me how, exactly, downloading software violates anyone's NDA. The NDA is violated by the people who post pirated software, not the people who download it. How can Apple claim these people violated an NDA unless Apple itself gave them the software on the condition of an NDA? Either there's more to the story, or something got lost in translation.

This is an interesting situation for Apple to be in, though. You want your employees to have a certain amount of obsession, or at least zeal, for your product. But where do you draw the line, and what do you do when people cross it? In this case, fire them, but I suspect this is a problem Apple and other companies are going to have to wrestle with more and more as their marketing departments keep starting the buzz about new products farther and farther in advance of release dates. It will be interesting to see how many people eventually get fired, and on what grounds. I would think a reasonable policy would be this: discipline employees who possess pirated software, terminate ones who help distribute pre-release software or tell others where to get it, which it seems like these five may have been doing.

[via DLS]

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