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Judge Orders Google, Oracle to Disclose Paid Bloggers

This week a California court ordered both Google and Oracle to disclose the identities of any bloggers, commentators or journalists who were paid to write about the companies' courtroom Java battle.

"The Court is concerned that the parties and/or counsel herein may have retained or paid print or internet authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have and/or may publish comments on the issues in this case," wrote Judge William Alsup in a Tuesday filing.

The judge added that even though this particular case is almost over, "the disclosure required by this order would be of use on appeal or on any remand to make clear whether any treatise, article, commentary or analysis on the issues posed by this case are possibly influenced by financial relationships to the parties or counsel."

Both sides in the case were ordered to file a statement clearly identifying "all authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have reported or commented on any issues in this case and who have received money (other than normal subscription fees) from the party or its counsel during the pendency of this action." The two companies are required to file those statements by Friday, August 17.

Oracle had alleged that Google infringed on Java-related patents and copyrights when it developed its Android operating system. The jury in the case ruled unanimously in May that Google had not infringed on those patents when it developed its Android operating system. But it delivered a partial verdict on May 7, holding that Google had infringed on Oracle's copyrights in its use of 37 Java APIs, but deadlocked on whether that infringement could be considered "fair use."

Alsup is the judge who presided over the case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, and ruled in June that the Java APIs are not subject to copyright, though he kept his ruling narrow: "This order does not hold that Java API packages are free for all to use without license," Alsup wrote. "It does not hold that the structure, sequence and organization of all computer programs may be stolen. Rather, it holds on the specific facts of this case, the particular elements replicated by Google were free for all to use under the Copyright Act."

On April 18, blogger Florian Mueller, who writes the FOSS Patents blog and is a long-time follower of the Oracle v. Google case, disclosed to his readers a new consulting relationship with Oracle. Mueller wrote:

  • "I have been following Oracle v. Google since the filing of the lawsuit in August 2010 and have read pretty much every line of each court filing in this litigation. My long-standing views on this matter are well-documented. As an independent analyst and blogger, I will express only my own opinions, which cannot be attributed to any one of my diversity of clients. I often say things none of them would agree with. That said, as a believer in transparency I would like to inform you that Oracle has very recently become a consulting client of mine. We intend to work together for the long haul on mostly competition-related topics including, for one example, FRAND licensing terms."

Mueller noted in that posting that he "vocally opposed Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems."

Posted by John K. Waters on August 8, 2012