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A video deposition from Steve Jobs recorded as evidence in a long-running iPod/iTunes antitrust lawsuit was shown for the first time in court on Tuesday, revealing not only Jobs' thoughts on the case, but also a rare glimpse behind the scenes of a former Apple run by its cofounder.
Taped in 2011, Jobs' testimony, along with multiple emails passed between Apple execs, is only now making its way to court as plaintiffs' evidence in a class-action lawsuit regarding iPod and the iTunes Music Store. The deposition also happens to be one of the last videos recorded by Jobs before his death later that year.
While a written transcript is not yet available for public viewing, multiple in-court reports offer a brief rundown of the most salient points. According to CNN Money, most of the questions asked by a lawyer representing the plaintiffs were in regard to RealNetworks, a key subject in the case currently asserted against Apple.
Jobs' first response was itself a question and reportedly characteristic of his entire testimony. "Do they still exist?" Jobs quipped, referring to RealNetworks.
Throughout the deposition, Jobs was evasive, saying he either forgot or didn't know the answers to numerous questions. He said "I don't remember," "I don't know" or "I don't recall" a total of 74 times, CNN reports, and replied similarly when asked if he knew why Apple was being sued.
The complaint is a carryover from a 2005 lawsuit involving Apple's supposedly tactical moves to block songs purchased on RealNetworks' RealPlayer online store from being played on iPod. One of the key arguments revolves around an iTunes update allegedly pushed out to break compatibility with Harmony, a technology created by Real that allowed users to playback non-iTunes music on iPod.
Plaintiffs allege Apple sought to create a monopoly by creating a closed ecosystem with FairPlay digital rights management (DRM), the iPod and the iTunes Music Store. The class includes individuals and businesses who bought iPod classic, iPod shuffle, iPod touch or iPod nano models between Sept. 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009.
Although Jobs seemed to have put the matter behind him, email correspondence from 2004 is more permanent, as Reuters reports.
"How's this? 'We are stunned that Real is adopting the tactics and ethics of a hacker and breaking into the iPod,'" Jobs wrote in an email asking Apple executives about a potential press release regarding RealNetworks. In reply, Apple's head of marketing Phil Schiller said he liked the idea of "likening them to hackers."
The email foreshadowed Jobs' 2011 testimony, when he said Apple was "very scared" of breaking digital sales terms stipulated by record labels. Although iTunes no longer carries DRM-protected content, at the time Jobs said Apple was under constant pressure by labels to keep music secure, which in turn prompted frequent iTunes updates as "hackers" found new workarounds. Apple had part of the initial suit tossed in 2009 after reaching an agreement with music labels to strip DRM from iTunes Store content.
When asked by the attorney if he thought the emails about Real sounded "strong and vehement," Jobs demurred.
"They don't sound too angry to me when I read them," Jobs said. " "Usually, a vehement - I don't know about the word 'vehement,' but a strong response from Apple would be a lawsuit."
More email correspondence is expected to come out as proceedings continue in the coming two weeks.
Plaintiffs are seeking $350 million in damages from Apple, an amount that would automatically be tripled to over $1 billion under U.S. antitrust laws.