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In a brief quietly filed in the Washington DC court of appeals on Tuesday, Microsoft has asked the court to confirm that the depositions taken from Bill Gates and Microsoft executives will remain forever secret. An application to Judge Jackson to attend the deposition of Gates and other executives was initiated by Reuters and joined by a number of media organisations. The law allowing this is the Publicity in Taking Evidence Act of 1913. Judge Jackson reluctantly had to grant permission because the law was clear on the matter. Microsoft immediately appealed first to Judge Jackson, who said he had no latitude in the matter, and then to the court of appeals where Microsoft was granted a temporary stay. The start of the main hearing had to be delayed for two weeks because the depositions were suspended pending clarification of whether the press would be admitted. Microsoft had already obtained what is known as a protective order to keep all internal documents confidential, although this is currently being challenged by motions to unseal the documents. Microsoft says its reasons for wanting to keep Gates' and other Microsoft depositions secret is that the testimony deals with "competitively sensitive information", but leaked information and a document filed on Monday by the DoJ suggest that it is the contemptuous behaviour of its witnesses that Microsoft wishes to keep secret. Microsoft's arguments in its brief are based on different procedures being used when the law was enacted. ®

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