A US district court judge in California has ordered Google and Oracle to disclose payments to journalists and bloggers during the companies' copyright infringement case earlier this year.
US District Judge William Alsup said both companies have until August 17 to identify writers whom they paid during the two-year lawsuit. The disclosure will clarify whether anything written about the case was “influenced by financial relationships to the parties or counsel,” Alsup said.
The order extends a legal battle that concluded in May. Oracle had sued Google for creating a Java clone for the Android phone that Oracle claimed violated its patents and copyright. On May 7, a jury found that Google infringed on Oracle's copyrights in its development of Android software, but was deadlocked on whether it was fair use. Later that month, the jury found Google did not violate two Oracle patents, meaning the company would not have to pay Oracle for its use of Java elements in its Android operating system.
Eric Goldman, a Santa Clara University law school professor, told Bloomberg that Alsup's ruling was unusual and far-reaching because it could mean Google must also disclose participants in its AdSense service, which allows blogs and other websites to sell space to advertisers. Goldman is not a client of Google's, but he is an AdSense customer and has written about the Oracle v. Google case on his law blogs.
In a statement, Oracle called on Google to disclose its financial relationships just as the software company has done:
“Oracle has always disclosed all of its financial relationships in this matter, and it is time for Google to do the same. We read this order to also include indirect payments to entities who, in turn, made comments on behalf of Google,” said Oracle spokesperson Deborah Hellinger.
Oracle paid commentator Florian Mueller, who posted about the case on the FOSS Patents blog, as a consultant.