Steve Jobs is alive and, well, very much himself in emails and a videotaped deposition to be presented in an Oakland courtroom tomorrow. As one story goes, when Google's Eric Schmidt informed Jobs that an employee had been fired for attempting to hire an Apple employee, Jobs responded with a smiley face. Now Jobs' emails will figure in an old federal case still being argued dealing with Apple's monopolistic attitude toward digital music back in the early days of the iPod.

Tuesday's case harkens back to 2003, the New York Times explains, in a class action involving older iPods that played only songs sold in the iTunes Store or downloaded from CDs. You might remember that music from competing stores like RealNetworks and MusicMatch was made incompatible with Apple's devices. Though that's no longer true — and today's iPods feel like they're about to go the way of quills and typewriters — the case, which is an amalgam of multiple previous cases, has bounced around Bay Area federal courts for ten years and still has to be put to bed.

The plaintiffs are consumers who claim Apple violated antitrust law because, to keep their music, they were locked into their iPod and unable to use competing music players (Zune, anyone?) Plaintiffs’ lawyers, the Times claims, "will portray [Jobs] as planning to break a competitor’s product to protect Apple’s grip on digital music." In addition to the surprise star witness, top Apple executives like Philip W. Schiller and Eddy Cue will take the stand.

To some degree, the moment recalls a 2012 case in which the Justice Department accused Apple and some five publishers with colluding to raise e-book prices. Government lawyers deployed an excerpt from Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson in which the Apple founder claimed to want publishers, not retailers, to set book prices. “Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream e-books market at $12.99 and $14.99,” Jobs wrote in an email quoted by the Times. In the end, a federal judge found Apple liable and approved a $400 million settlement.

As Jobs would say, ": ) -Sent From my iPhone." For a collection of his greatest email hits, check out this tumblr.


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An email from Jobs via Stevemail