Want to watch one of the last videos of Steve Jobs? Too bad
Six months before he died, Apple's co-founder and CEO gave a video deposition for a lawsuit over the iPod. The plaintiffs' lawyers refuse to release the video, even though it was shown at the trial on Friday.
Nick StattFormer Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
The world still hangs on Steve Jobs' every word, even three years after his death.
For those interested in hearing for themselves what Apple's co-founder and former CEO had to say about the company's dominance in the early days of the digital music business, the wait may never end.
Jobs made a 30-minute appearance in court in Oakland, Calif., on Friday as part of an antitrust trial over Apple's iPod media player and iTunes music software. Plaintiffs in the case showed video testimony Jobs gave on April 12, 2011, just six months before he died from complications having to do with pancreatic cancer.
Apple objected to the video's release and Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers asked the plaintiffs to treat Jobs' deposition as standard testimony, according to a representative for the plaintiffs. Gonzalez Rogers did not officially seal the video, meaning it may still be made available at a later date.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on whether the video will ever be released.
That footage is dominating the conversation around an otherwise complex and murky antitrust trial centered on Apple's actions almost 10 years ago. The plaintiffs allege that Apple used iTunes to squash competition by preventing competing music stores' songs from working with the iPod -- a move they claim stopped consumers from buying music from lower-cost music services.
Apple executives including iTunes chief Eddy Cue argued in court this week that the company was acting in the best interests of its record label contracts and in maintaining the security of its system in light of an onslaught of hacks. Jobs, via video, hammered home that message as well.
"There are lots of hackers trying to hack into these things so that they can do things that would put us in noncompliance with the contracts we have with the music companies," Jobs said, calling those contracts "pretty much black and white."
Apple was, Jobs added, "very scared" of losing its rights to sell music from the five largest record labels at the time on its iTunes music store.
Jobs' deposition won't affect the case as significantly as testimony from Apple executives like Cue and marketing head Phil Schiller, both of whom spoke earlier this week. Yet the video offers one last rare insight into Jobs' thoughts on Apple's history -- and a glimpse of his physical demeanor -- in the months before his death.
Wearing his trademark black turtleneck and blue jeans, Job showed a supreme calm verging on complete indifference to what was happening. To Jobs, much of what was being asked about was, as he put it, "water under the bridge," and his energy level reflected it. He wore his glasses not on on his nose, but resting on his head as he flipped through court documents, often reading pages before Sweeney asked him to. As the video screened, the courtroom was filled only with the sound of laptop keys mashing furiously to record his words.
Jobs looked on video much as he would in his final public appearance at a Cupertino, Calif., city council meeting just four months before he passed away. During that appearance, he asked for approval for Apple's new doughnut-shaped campus, which is now under construction. The video deposition took place two months before the council meeting.
Jobs spent much of the two hours of taped testimony, which was compressed to a half hour for the court, accusing record labels of forcing Apple to continuously update its digital rights management technology, called FairPlay. Apple has staked out its position in court that DRM, as it's called, was a necessary evil to combat hackers and piracy and to ensure the record labels that they could confidently offer their music through digital distribution.
Plaintiffs say that Apple used the software updates as an excuse to wield its DRM as a weapon against competing digital music stores, including one operated by RealNetworks.
Jobs occasionally displayed a level of disdain, treating the then-six-year-old antitrust allegation as an inconvenience. When asked if he remembered RealNetworks -- which had reverse-engineered Apple's FairPlay in 2004 and is now at the center of this antitrust trial -- Jobs responded, "Do they still exist?"
More than three dozen times in his testimony, Jobs responds to a question by saying he can't remember or doesn't know.
The full transcript of Jobs' testimony is below.
Update at 9:05 p.m. PT, Sunday, December 7:Added comment for plaintiffs regarding the release of the video.