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Apple battles news outlets over old Steve Jobs testimony in antitrust suit

Though long removed from this mortal coil, Steve Jobs may still be forced to show the world what he did not recall three years ago — in HD.  CNN, Bloomberg and the Associated Press jointly filed a motion with the Oakland federal court for the public release of Steve Jobs’ videotaped 2011 deposition in Apple’s antitrust case over market monopolization accusations on Monday, according to CNET.

Apple is currently embroiled in a decade-old lawsuit centered around claims that the tech giant knowingly attempted to monopolize the digital music download market by restricting compatibility between competitors’ music marketplaces and Apples own iTunes and iPod devices.

Thomas Burke is representing the three news outlets suing in the case, and cites “substantial public interest in the rare posthumous appearance of Steve Jobs” as reason for the unreleased video’s dissemination. The motion for the video’s release comes after Apple’s lead attorney Bill Issacson denied Burke’s emailed request for the footage Sunday night. The 44-month old video, recorded in April 2011, was officially entered into “regular testimony” by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers at Apple’s request after the plaintiff’s approval, meaning it may be reported by those in attendance but cannot not be released anywhere else.

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Judge Rogers did not seal the evidence, however, which would have officially restricted its release. The three news outlets have opposed any retroactive sealing of the footage. The transcript to Jobs’ testimony is available online and features a generally coy and elusive Jobs having trouble recalling emails he sent, and other dealings with RealNetwork in 2004, the parent company of a music service called RealRhapsody. RealRhapsody allowed songs downloaded from the music service to become compatible with iPods. In 2004, Apple released a software update that counteracted the RealRhapsody technology.

The motion for public release of Jobs’ testimony was filed by the news outlets just hours after Judge Rogers rejected the second of two plaintiffs in the class action antitrust lawsuit against Apple, Monday afternoon. Both of the released plaintiffs were alleged iPod owners claiming to have had non-iTunes music removed from their devices by Apple between 2007 and 2009.

Plaintiff Melanie Wilson was removed last Thursday after Apple provided documents showing she did not make an iPod purchase within the claim’s time period of September 2007 to March 2009. Marianna Rosen was also removed from the case after the plaintiffs’ lawyer Bonny Sweeney was unable to provide sufficient evidence that Rosen purchased an iPod between the same time period. Judge Rogers gave Sweeney until later today to find a replacement plaintiff, however, and denied Apple’s request to have the case dismissed.

Sweeney informed The San Jose Mercury News “a lot of people have reached out to us in the last several days saying that they were interested in helping out and stepping forward as a plaintiff.” With over 100 million iPods sold in that 18 month time span, that’s a whole lot of potential witnesses.