So far, about 35 depositions have been made public, including those of top Microsoft executives Bill Gates, Paul Maritz, Jim Allchin, and Bob Muglia. Gates's deposition, in which the Microsoft chief executive parsed words such as "concerned" and "ask," turned out to be a be a major embarrassment for the company.
The documents, which had been designated as confidential, are being made public after a federal appeals court in January ruled that a 1913 law required that depositions taken in government antitrust cases be opened to the public. A deposition requires a witness to answer questions under penalty of perjury and help lawyers build a case.
Parties are permitted to "redact," or censure out company trade secrets and other sensitive information. But Jay Brown, a media attorney who fought to make the depositions public, said the court's order makes clear that the privilege is not to be abused.
"There would be substantial penalties on the party that redacted material that didn't meet that exacting standard," said Brown, an attorney at Levine, Sullivan & Coch.