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Google, Oracle Must Disclose Payoffs to Bloggers, Journalists

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on August 09, 2012 6:58 AM

Google and Oracle must identify bloggers and journalists who've been paid by the companies, federal Judge William Alsup has ordered. But it's not entirely clear why.

Lawyers for the tech giants must file disclosures by Friday, Alsup wrote in his one-page order, according to Wired. Alsup is presiding over the case, in which Oracle accused Google of patent and copyright infringement in developing software for Android smartphones.

Jurors delivered split verdicts in May. So why is Alsup issuing his disclosure order now?

It apparently has something to do with a potential appeal, Alsup wrote in his Google/Oracle blogger and journalist disclosure order.

"[T]he 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," Judge William Alsup's order states.

"The Court is concerned" about this issue, Alsup writes without further elaboration. That's left some legal experts scratching their heads.

"This is a really broadly written order, and kind of a confusing order," one lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation told Wired. "It's not clear to me what Judge Alsup is trying to get at."

Alsup's order covers all "print or [I]nternet authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers ... who have received money" from Oracle or Google during the case. But does that include the thousands of bloggers who get paid via Google's AdSense program?

That's "not what Alsup meant, but it's what he said," one law professor (whose blog participates in Google's AdSense) remarked via Twitter.

As for what triggered Judge William Alsup's Google/Oracle blogger disclosure order, "It would have to be that something improper happened," the EFF attorney opined. As for the split verdicts, Oracle says it plans to appeal.

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