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Why Apple is fighting the publication of video of Steve Jobs

"What they want is a dead man, and they want to show him to the rest of the world."


Alex La Ferla


Posted on Dec 10, 2014   Updated on May 30, 2021, 12:36 am CDT

Apple is currently fighting a motion to make public a 2011 video recording depicting the deposition of the late Steve Jobs, in what is turning out to be another flashpoint in an ongoing antitrust case being heard in Oakland, Calif.

30 minutes of the two hour video in question were already shown to the jury hearing the case over Apple’s allegedly deleting music off of users’ iPods without consent. The transcript of Jobs’ testimony has likewise been released to the press. However, lawyers for the Associated Press, Bloomberg, and CNN filed a motion earlier this week to make the full video publicly available.

“Given the substantial public interest in the rare posthumous appearance of Steve Jobs in this trial, there simply is no interest that justifies restricting the public’s access to his video deposition,” wrote attorney Thomas Burke, who is representing the media companies.

Apple countered in its motion that the public availability of the video makes no sense, and that it should remain hidden from the general public’s eyes. Apple argues that by this reasoning, video tapes of everyone who’s ever sat for a deposition should also then be made public.

In addition to this legal argument for barring the video from being released, Apple made clear that it views the media companies’ motion as a cynical attempt to generate ratings and pageviews by placing the focus on a posthumous recording of a visibly frail Jobs. “The marginal value of seeing him again, in his black turtleneck—this time very sick—is small. What they want is a dead man, and they want to show him to the rest of the world, because it’s a judicial record,” said Jonathan Sherman, one of Apple’s lawyers.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers seemed to side with Apple, citing the basic rule against recording any of the court’s proceedings. “The request you’re asking for frankly is diametrically opposed from the rule that says I cannot allow the recording of these proceedings,” Judge Rogers told Burke. “So if I’m treating witnesses the same, 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 Rogers has agreed to hear another argument from Burke’s team, as long as it is filed by the end of the week, meaning her decision on the matter could be delayed until early next week. 

Photo via anieto2k/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Dec 10, 2014, 2:10 pm CST