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Judge rules videotaped Steve Jobs deposition to remain out of public eye

After successfully defending a long-running antitrust case related to the iPod and iTunes ecosystem, Apple on Wednesday won a separate fight to keep videotaped deposition from late company cofounder Steve Jobs sealed.

Steve Jobs

District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers sided with both Apple and plaintiffs in her ruling, saying Jobs' testimony in the iPod iTunes antitrust case, taped months before his death in 2011, should not be handled as judicial record and will therefore not be made public.

In the midst of trial proceedings last week, a number of large media outlets filed a joint motion to gain access to copies of Jobs' deposition, citing public interest in judicial procedure. The rare footage is thought to be one of Jobs' last filmed appearances and of value to interested parties, media intervenors said.

The Jobs testimony was played multiple times during Apple's trial, proceedings of which were open to the public, allowing gathered journalists to report on the video firsthand. At the time, however, media intervenors argued a videotaped testimony is "far more compelling" than written transcripts already available through the court's electronic filing system.

For its part, Apple noted the court has a duty to protect witness testimony. If the Jobs Deposition were made public, it might set a dangerous precedent for the release of videotaped testimony from other high-profile witnesses in future cases. For witnesses in compromising situations, the prospect of having their sworn statements broadcast out of court would likely dissuade testimony, hindering the legal process.

If the video were to have been submitted as evidence, or if parties in the case did not object to its dissemination, today's ruling "might be different," Judge Gonzales Rogers said.

Judge Gonzales Rogers cites a prior case dealing with witness testimony:
Here, the Court agrees with the Eighth Circuit and concludes that the Jobs Deposition is not a judicial record. It was not admitted into evidence as an exhibit. Instead, the Jobs Deposition was merely presented in lieu of live testimony due to the witness's unavailability, and was and should be treated in the same manner as any other live testimony offered at trial.

On Tuesday, a jury found Apple not guilty of locking customers in to a monopoly digital music ecosystem with iPod, iTunes and FairPlay digital rights management. Plaintiffs in the case sought $350 million in damages, an amount that would have been tripled to more than $1 billion under U.S. antitrust law.