The Epic vs. Apple Hearing Is Already a Disaster

Illustration for article titled The Epic vs. Apple Hearing Is Already a Disaster

Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP (Getty Images)

The Epic v. Apple trial kicked off on Monday morning, and it’s already devolved into a giant, internet-fueled mess.

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First, the court had issues getting both teleconference lines up and running, and even when they were humming along fine, everyone’s lines seemed to be unmuted. On the main line, one person chanted, “Epic Games! Epic Games!” Another chimed in, “I’m going to tell my mom, just don’t pick up the line,” while yet another offered this insightful commentary: “Tim Sweeney better know what he’s doing. If he messes up once, we won’t have iOS back. This call is live, by the way.”

The additional line suffered from the same audio issues as well. About 35 minutes into the hearing, while Epic’s legal team was still giving its opening statement, the audio suddenly cut out. Journalist Geoff Knightley’s livestream of the hearing buzzed with people typing “The audio went out” into the chat. But one audience member figured out he was unmuted.

“FORTNITE SUCKS,” that person yelled into the mic. “Yo, yo, yo, we can’t hear anything, bro. The audio died or some shit.”

The same audience member went on to question if anyone else could hear him. While everyone on the line was unmuted (another person listening in confirmed this), the same person continued his commentary: “Raise your hand if you think Sweeny is gay,” he said before adding “Man, I’m going to hell for this.”

In August 2020, Epic Games purposefully violated its Apple App Store agreement by giving Fortnite players a direct payment method that bypassed the App Store. This is explicitly prohibited by Apple, as it prevents the company from receiving a 30% cut, which Apple takes from most app store transactions. But Epic didn’t just violate its agreement with Apple. It put on a showcase designed to put one of Apple’s business practices in a big, anti-trust spotlight.

Apple responded to Epic’s intentional rules violation by booting Fortnite from the App Store; in turn, Epic sued Apple, which brings us to today’s mess.

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After about 10 minutes into the dead feed, the court got the audio working again. But it wasn’t long before the single-person peanut gallery chimed in again. “Please don’t free Fortnite!”

The lawyer continued on for a minute, but was quickly interrupted again by the same person breathing heavily into the mic and making what I can only describe as drunk train whistle noises before shouting, “Reddit, Reddit, Reddit.”

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From there, a verbal tug of war happened. The second one of the lawyers started talking, the same person would scream incoherent babble into the mic, forcing the lawyer to stop. A second of sweet, sweet silence would ensue before the same person would start again.

As if this writing, it seems like the court finally figured out how to mute everyone. The court probably should have streamed this hearing on its YouTube page, like it’s been doing with other hearings, including others related to Epic v. Apple. Hopefully, they figure out these technical issues or decide to stream the audio to everyone for the rest of the hearing this week.

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Otherwise, we’ll be treated to the same “insightful commentary” of audience members who sound like they should be in school instead of interrupting a court proceeding with animal noises.

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