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News media get access to depositions, videotapes in Microsoft antitrust case


WASHINGTON (AP) _ The news media will get videotapes and transcripts of interviews with five top technology executives taken during the Microsoft antitrust case, a federal judge has ruled.

Several media outlets, including The Associated Press, The New York Times and CNN, asked a court to release the depositions after Microsoft refused access to them.

The executives are Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and senior vice president Jim Allchin, former Netscape head Jim Barksdale, Liberate Technologies chief Mitchell Kertzman and Sun Microsystems chief executive Scott McNealy.

``Microsoft fails to offer any explanation as to why provision of the transcripts and video recordings from these four depositions would be so troublesome and vexatious that the circumstances justify the denial of the Media's request,'' U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote in a Sunday order.

McNealy's deposition has not yet taken place, but Kollar-Kotelly said the media could have the tape of his interview as well. She denied the media's request to get transcripts of other depositions.

The depositions were taken in connection with the antitrust suit pursued by nine states, led by Iowa, California and Massachusetts.

Those states want harsher penalties against the software maker than those mandated by a settlement reached by nine other states and the federal government. That settlement will be reviewed in court next week.

Kollar-Kotelly said the media will have to bear the costs of the transcripts and video, and they will be edited to remove confidential business information.

It is unclear when the media will get the videos. A standing order in the case says any depositions can be held for five days after the witness receives a copy of the interview. After that, the videotape and transcript would have to be edited to remove sensitive information and delivered to the media.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, the previous judge in the case, had blocked reporters from the witness depositions until he was overruled by an appeals court. As a result, reporters attended several depositions in spring 1999, including a dramatic standoff between Microsoft lawyers and Steve Case, now chairman of AOL Time-Warner Inc.
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