MS/DoJ: Judge orders release of pre-trial interviews

The judge presiding over the ongoing Microsoft antitrust battle has ordered the software giant to release edited transcripts of...

The judge presiding over the ongoing Microsoft antitrust battle has ordered the software giant to release edited transcripts of pre-trial interviews with major industry figures to the media.

US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered Microsoft and the suing states to turn over edited interview transcripts and video tapes.

Pre-trial interviews with Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer, Microsoft senior vice-president James Allchin, former Netscape chief Jim Barksdale and Mithell Kertzman of Liberate Technologies have already taken place.

Those transcripts will be made available to media organisations by 1 March.

The fifth interview with Sun Microsystems chief executive Scott McNealy has yet to take place. Kollar-Kotelly ruled that transcripts or video footage of that interview would be made available to the media if or when it does take place.

The District of Columbia and the nine states that did not sign on to the proposed settlement between Microsoft, the US Department of Justice and nine other states, are scheduled to return to court on 11 March.

Media organisations asked for access to the pre-trial interviews in January the interviews being conducted in preparation of that next phase of the case. The judge decided to limit media access to the five specific interviews.

A transcript of one interview with Richard Fade, senior vice-president of Microsoft's OEM division, was released last week by the dissenting states. This sparked a debate over whether Microsoft was using the proposed deal with the DOJ and nine states to benefit from new Windows licensing contracts made with its top 20 partners in the PC industry.

Microsoft has fought to keep the interviews private sealed, arguing that they included confidential information that is protected by a previous court order.

Kollar-Kotelly concluded: "[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 or the third-parties who were deposed".

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