Little Rock, Ark. resident Dave Mitchell is selling the DVDs, which contain 17-plus hours of videotaped testimony of the then-president of Microsoft prior to the opening of the U.S. Department of Justice's case, U.S. v. Microsoft.
The deposition, which Mitchell touts on his eBay listing as "an un-rehearsed and un-censored Bill Gates answering hundreds of probing questions," was used during the trial by the government, which played selected clips from it at several points.
Media reports written during the trial commented on Gates' ability to draw out the questioning by challenging the meaning of such words as "concerned" and his repeated inability to remember events.
"I think its evident to every spectator that, for whatever reasons, in many respects Mr. Gates has not been particularly responsive to his deposition interrogation," said the presiding judge, Thomas Jackson, during the trial.
Much of Gates' deposition was devoted to going over e-mails and conversations with other Microsoft executives about potential plans to block Sun (for its Java) and Netscape (for its Navigator browser, then the leading browser). At one point, Gates claimed that in 1995, he had "no sense of what Netscape was doing."
(A text transcript of the deposition can be found on the Department of Justice's Web site.)
Later, the video was made available to the media, and for a time, was prominent on the Web, including CNN.com, which once offered up clips based on search terms users would type in. (Although the search form is still available, it leads nowhere.) Today, the video is difficult to find; TechWeb was unable to locate a copy currently hosted on the Internet.
"It's not a bootleg," said Mitchell in an e-mail interview. "I think you would be hard pressed to find 15 seconds of this anywhere. This certainly is 'public' un-copyrighted content."
Mitchell is selling the 11-DVD set for $65 using eBay's "Buy Now" mechanism, plus shipping. "I've sold a few copies in the last couple weeks," he said.
"I just want people to see Bill Gates for who he is," said Mitchell in his e-mail. "Some people love him, some despise him, have favorable and un-favorable opinions. There's a real mixed bag of impressions out there about Bill and his company.
"Frankly too, I am selling these videos because I need the money. I am a 34 year old guy who has been painfully cooped up for the last 3 years in my parents house, in my old bedroom, writing business plans and building a information technology organization that will one day supplant Microsoft. Let's call it a better Microsoft that you really can trust.
"I believe one day my planes will fill the sky."