Universal Protocol?

Speaking from personal experience as one who has spent a fair number of hours in bars, there is a universal protocol for dealing with misplaced or forgotten personal items left behind by fellow patrons. Wallets, keys, phones, purses. Whatever. If you see something like that on the floor, or forgotten on a table, you pick it up and hand it to the bartender

via Daring Fireball: Gizmodo and the Prototype iPhone.

I believe this is right up there with the Prime Directive!  In fact, how people deal with lost stuff varies with each person’s personal environment.  I would suggest that there are many possible ways in which people would react to what could be lost or forgotten items:

  1. Leave it there, the person who forgot it may come back to pick it up
  2. Return it to one of the establishment’s employees
  3. Take it with the intention of returning it to the owner when you find out who it is
  4. Take it with no intention of returning it (the finders keepers, losers weepers) which is against the law

Gruber continues to make various assails at what constitutes reasonable with this description,

“It defies belief that calling Apple’s public phone numbers constitutes “reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him””

I would probably never think to go to Apple’s website to return it, I’d probably do my best to get the device back to Apple via the store maybe, but I’d most definitely have snapped photos and videos of it, had I known it was a 4G iPhone.

In addition, any lawyer would be able to argue maybe not successfully, but at least argue that reaching out to Apple customer service was a genuine method of trying to reach the original owner of the device.

Ultimately, the facts of the case are still unclear.  All we know are stories which to Gizmodo’s detriment has changed many times since the original post.  Law enforcement will have the opportunity to investigate the actual nature of the conversations between Gizmodo and the finder of the iPhone, and possibly into the precise method by which the iPhone was found.