Apple lawyers say media only wants to show a 'dead man' in request for Steve Jobs deposition

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Attorneys representing Apple in the company's fight against an iPod iTunes antitrust class-action lawsuit suggested in court on Tuesday that media requests to unseal Steve Jobs' videotaped testimony are petty at best.

According to in-court reports from The Verge and opposition filings lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Apple lawyers are pushing back against a bid for public access to a videotaped deposition from late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. The motion to access was brought to court on Monday on behalf of large media outlets Bloomberg, The Associated Press and CNN.

Apple argues the media has no right to the taped deposition as the video was entered as witness testimony, not evidence, meaning the court does not have to provide copies for public viewing. It was further argued that Jobs' testimony does not contain information valuable in instructing the public on the judicial process.

"The marginal value of seeing him again, in his black turtleneck — this time very sick — is small," said Jonathan Sherman, a lawyer representing Apple. "What they they want is a dead man, and they want to show him to the rest of the world, because it's a judicial record."

From Apple's argument in opposition to media intervenors' request:

Disclosure of the video of Mr. Jobs' testimony would not promote the public interest, the duties of the court, or the public's understanding of the judicial process— it would do just the opposite. Most crucially, unfettered disclosure of Mr. Jobs' testimony based solely on the general interest of the press— or indeed any member of the wider public— would deter other individuals from appearing voluntarily for videotaped depositions, and undermine the operations of the courts.

Media outlets characterized Jobs' deposition as "invaluable" to public interest, arguing that because a 27-minute section of the video was presented by plaintiffs in front those in court last Friday, it "is presumptively open to the press and public."

"We're not asking for anything other than what the jury heard," said Tom Burke, an attorney representing the media companies. "Steve Jobs is not your typical trial witness, and that's what makes this a unique circumstance."

Presiding Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers seemed to agree with Apple's argument against releasing court testimony to the general public, voicing hesitation to granting access as it goes against common-law practices.

"The request you're asking for frankly is diametrically opposed from the rule that says I cannot allow the recording of these proceedings," Judge Gonzalez Rogers told Burke on Tuesday. "So if I'm treating witnesses the same, I haven't recorded any of the experts, I haven't recorded any of the experts, I haven't recorded anything — and none of that's going to go to the jury."

Judge Gonzalez Rogers has not yet decided on the matter and will be accepting further arguments from both sides until the week is out.