Close the Gates!

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WASHINGTON: If Microsoft has its way, you won't get to watch Bill Gates squirm in front of Federal prosecutors after all. The software giant decided Wednesday to appeal Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's decision to make its CEO's deposition a media event. Jackson was upholding an obscure law from 1913 requiring such sessions in antitrust cases to be "open to the public as freely as are trials in open court." But what was good for Rockefeller is not good for Gates, says Microsoft -- rehashing its favorite argument that clunky old antitrust laws are simply inappropriate in the information age.

This time, however, Redmond is on shaky ground. The Publicity in Taking Evidence act may be obscure, but it's no white elephant; it was dusted off for the government's antitrust suit against IBM back in the '80s. So is Gates's team just stalling again? "Microsoft will use every legal weapon in its arsenal to delay the September 8 trial," says TIME Science writer Michael Krantz. "Sometimes they'll work, sometimes they won't." Unless Judge Jackson or the U.S. Court of Appeals intervenes, this one won't -- and Gates will be forced to testify under the gaze of the great unwashed.