A trio of news organizations yesterday petitioned a federal judge to order Apple to release a two-hour video deposition given by the company's co-founder Steve Jobs just months before his death.
In a motion filed Monday, the Associated Press, Bloomberg and CNN asked U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers to order Apple to give them copies of the Jobs deposition, which the iconic executive sat for in April 2011 as part of an antitrust case now before a jury.
Jobs died in October 2011 of complications from pancreatic cancer.
The jury began hearing the case on Dec. 2. It was put on temporary hold Monday when the judge tossed out the final plaintiff after Apple successfully argued that she used her husband's corporate credit card to buy a pair of iPods rather than her own card. The plaintiffs alleged that between 2006 and 2009 Apple illegally stifled competition by blocking consumers from playing music acquired from rival digital music stores on their iPods. Apple has countered that the repetitive updates it made to iTunes were security fixes.
"Given the substantial public interest in the rare posthumous appearance of Steve Jobs in this trial, there simply is no interest that justifies restricting the public's access to his video deposition," the news companies' attorney, Thomas Burke of Davis Wright Tremaine, wrote in the motion.
Approximately 30 minutes of Jobs' video deposition were shown to the jury last Friday, Dec. 5, and a transcript was made public. During the deposition, Jobs repeatedly said he could not remember details of events.
But in an 2004 email he had written -- and which was read to him during the deposition -- Jobs compared Harmony, a technology developed by then-competitor RealNetworks that allowed songs purchased from RealNetworks' music store to play on iPods, to a burglar.
"Normally you're concerned that someone is going to break [into] your house to steal your stereo," Jobs had written. "In this case it appears that someone is breaking into our house and setting up their own stereo -- but they're still breaking in."
Saying that Jobs' testimony was "riveting and informative," Burke added that the video would let news organizations more accurately report on Jobs' testimony.
"Because Jobs' video deposition was used as trial testimony, it is now part of the trial record," Burke said. "Therefore, there is a strong presumption that the public and the press have a right to access it, in particular, because this particular video is far more compelling and accurate than any transcript could ever be."
Apple has refused to hand over the video, most recently on Sunday when Burke asked for it in an email to Apple's lead lawyer, William Isaacson of Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
"Apple does not consent to your request," Isaacson replied. "We are preparing a substantive response to your points and will get that to you tonight hopefully."
If Apple has filed a reply to Burke's motion, it had not been posted to the U.S. federal court system's database as of early Tuesday.