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Judge: Media Gets Access to Key Microsoft Testimony

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly has decided to make public certain depositions in the upcoming remedy phase of the Microsoft antitrust trial and will provide videotapes and transcripts of the depositions to the media. The depositions will feature several high-level Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer.

The judge decided to open these testimonies to the public after eight newspapers and other news agencies requested access, citing the Publicity in Taking Evidence Act of 1913. Microsoft resisted the request, but the judge ruled against the company. "\[Microsoft\] does not offer any affirmative evidence or argument to indicate that the release of redacted transcripts and video tapes would in any way burden, oppress, or embarrass the parties to the litigation or the third parties who were deposed," Kollar-Kotelly wrote in an order issued late yesterday.

In the main phase of Microsoft's antitrust trial 2 years ago, the videotaped deposition from then-CEO Bill Gates embarrassed and harmed the company because he was unhelpful and seemingly unaware of anything happening at the company. Gates later said that he was simply acting under his lawyers' advice, but it's safe to bet that Ballmer won't display similar recalcitrance during his testimony.

Lawyers for the nine nonsettling states will grill Microsoft executives and other witnesses in the days leading up to the March 11 remedy hearing. In addition to Ballmer, the court will also make public the testimonies of Microsoft Executive Vice President Jim Allchin, former Netscape Chairman Jim Barksdale, and Liberate Technologies Chairman Mitchell Kertzman. Other prehearing testimonies will remain sealed.

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