Steve Jobs' videotaped testimony aired in iPod iTunes trial as lawyers try to add plaintiff
A videotaped deposition from late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs was viewed in court on Friday as part of the ongoing "iPod iTunes" trial, while lawyers for the class attempted to add a new plaintiff after dropping one earlier in the day.
According to in-court reports from The New York Times, Jobs appeared in the videotaped deposition wearing his trademark black turtleneck and, though in apparent poor health, offered commentary typical of his no-nonsense temperament. The video was recorded approximately six months prior to his death in 2011.
Much of Jobs' testimony was already discussed in a previous report covering a written transcript of the video, but a few new pieces of information came out in court today. As heard earlier this week, Jobs cited hackers as the main impetus for implementing FairPlay digital rights management (DRM) in iTunes.
"We would constantly be revving iTunes and iPod software, closing any — any holes that might be in it or any problems it might have," Jobs said.
Apple contends FairPlay and subsequent iTunes updates were not a gambit to create a closed ecosystem, as argued by lawyers representing the plaintiffs, but instead a method of protecting precarious contracts with record labels already uncomfortable with an impending trend toward digital sales. That iPod users were unable to playback songs purchased from competing stores was a side-effect of a larger push for security.
Jobs said as much when plaintiffs' lead counsel Bonny Sweeney asked him whether labels complained about RealNetworks' Harmony technology, which was essentially a FairPlay workaround that let users play back on iPod tracks purchased through the RealPlayer music store.
"It doesn't really matter because in fixing holes for DRM hacks, it might screw up the Real technology anyway, as collateral damage." - Late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs.
"It doesn't really matter because in fixing holes for DRM hacks, it might screw up the Real technology anyway, as collateral damage," Jobs replied.
The case itself stems from from a prior 2005 lawsuit involving RealNetworks, which took issue with Apple's alleged tactic of using software updates to block iPod users from listening to content not purchased through iTunes. A lynchpin argument of the current class-action suit involves iTunes 7.0, an update plaintiffs claim was pushed out to break Harmony software.
Jobs could not or would not say much else on the matter, claiming he had forgotten or did not know the answers to further questions.
"I'm sorry I don't remember more of this for you, but there's been a lot of water under that bridge in seven years," Jobs said.
Also on Friday, lawyers for the plaintiffs faxed in a request to add plaintiff Jeffrey Kowalski to the case. Kowalski reportedly purchased an iPod touch in 2008, making him eligible for the suit's stipulated claimant parameters of having bought an iPod classic, iPod shuffle, iPod touch or iPod nano model between Sept. 12, 2006 and March 31, 2009.
The new plaintiff request comes in response to Apple's attempt to scuttle the suit by pointing out that the case's two original plaintiffs failed to produce evidence of having owned or purchased an iPod within the prescribed time period. On Thursday, Apple filed a letter notifying presiding Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers that multiple iPods purchased be Mariana Rosen and Melanie Tucker were not entitled for inclusion in the suit.
Tucker was subsequently withdrawn from the class, though Apple is still pursuing a motion to dismiss the case altogether.
Plaintiffs are seeking $350 million in damages from Apple's alleged misconduct, an amount that would automatically be tripled to more than $1 billion under U.S. antitrust laws.