Apple Fights Discovery Request for Jobs Deposition in Music Trial

Apple has objected to a discovery motion seeking, among other things, a deposition given by the late Steve Jobs in a 2010 lawsuit involving Apple, rap artist Eminem, and his record label, Aftermath Records. The motion is part of a new class action suit being brought against Universal Music Group, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, Apple has claimed that the information and testimony are proprietary and have no bearing in the new suit.

In the class action, plaintiffs are seeking to find out exactly what Mr. Jobs testified to in the first trial regarding Apple’s role in digital music licensing and sales. They have claimed that the testimony is needed to determine how much digital music licenses are worth.

Steve Jobs Deposition

TMO Artist’s Rendering of Transcript

The plaintiffs in the class action against UMG, including artist Rob Zombie and the estate of Rick James, are eager to get their hands on documents provided by Apple that appear to have given Aftermath Records an advantage in its litigation thus far. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, nearly all of those documents are considered by Apple to be highly confidential and crucial to the company’s business relationship with UMG.

In fact, when Mr. Jobs gave his deposition in 2010, Apple requested that the courtroom be cleared, a request that the presiding judge granted. The courtroom was cleared again when Mr. Jobs’s deposition was played back for the jury, and all records and transcripts relating to the deposition were ordered sealed. This indicates that the judge agreed with Apple’s stance that the information revealed during Mr. Jobs’s deposition was indeed confidential and critical to the company’s competitiveness.

Apple argued that plaintiffs in the UMG case have failed to show how the requested documents are relevant to their litigation. The Cupertino company has insisted that if it is forced to release them, it will suffer competitive harm. 

While Apple is famously known for its fierce secrecy, the company’s battle to fight a discovery request for a deposition has left many legal and technology pundits wondering: what is Apple hiding? One thing is certain from Apple’s initial stance on the issue, however; the company will only release the requested documents at the requirement of a binding judicial order.