August 17, 2012, 3:46 PM — Updated with a comment from the CCIA, and additional information gleaned after the original posting of this article.
Anyone looking for a smoking gun of paid shills for any of the parties within the Oracle vs. Google copyright and patent case will not find any answers in the formal responses to last week's surprise order from Judge William Alsup for everyone to disclose any payments the litigants had made to outside writers and bloggers.
In their respective responses filed with the court today, Google flatly denied directly paying anyone who wrote about this summer's trial. Oracle only identified one person on the payroll, Florian Mueller of FOSSPatents, though it recognized that some of its own employees may have blogged about elements of the trial during the course of the proceedings.
Google's response to the court only dealt with its own relationships. Oracle, though, took pains to implicate Google for maintaining "a network of direct and indirect 'influencers' to advance Google’s intellectual property agenda.
"This network is extensive, including attorneys, lobbyists, trade associations, academics, and bloggers, and its focus extends beyond pure intellectual property issues to competition/antitrust issues. Oracle notes that Google’s extensive network of influencers has been the subject of recent press coverage," Oracle's statement continued.
Oracle specifically fingered Ed Black, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, an organization funded in large part Google, according to Oracle's response. Black wrote about the case for *Forbes* on May 9. Black's article is bylined as a Contributor, which is usually regarded as a guest post for many publications. Black's position with the CCIA is also clearly identified within the article's bio, though there is no mention of a connection between the CCIA and Google.
Update:The CCIA has its own stance on the connection that Oracle raised.
"We have publicly held our position on the copyrightability of APIs since Oracle was a member of our association and Google was not (we also ran the Open Source and Industry Alliance). Furthermore, Google is one of many paying members and is clearly disclosed on our website," Daniel O'Conner, Senior Director, Public Policy & Government Affairs, said in a clarification to me this afternoon. "We frequently take positions at odds with individual members when we don't agree with their underlying policy stances."
Oracle also mentioned an author who was cited within the case that Google did not.
"Jonathan Band was a co-author of the book, 'Interfaces on Trial 2.0,' which Google cited in its April 3, 2012 copyright brief. Band’s indirect relationship to Google through Google supported trade associations is discussed in the August 10, 2012 Recorder article.
Update: After this article was posted, I noted that that original Interfaces on Trial book was published in 1995, a year before Google even existed. And the edition referenced by Oracle, Interfaces on Trial 2.0, was written before Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems and the Java code.
Alsup's order demanded both parties in case disclose "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 litigants had until noon PDT today to respond.
Mueller's involvement with Oracle was highlighted in the Oracle statement, as was the fact that Mueller had disclosed a consulting relationship with Oracle in April. That disclosure article was presented as another exhibit by Oracle.
"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," blogger Florian Mueller wrote.
The completely different approaches to Judge Alsup's order was telling. Google's statement focused on including a information on possible connections with various recipients of awards and political contributions, as well as the possibility of AdSense revenue recipients that might fall under Alsup's request.
"Google does not believe that individuals or organizations within these categories were intended to be encompassed within the scope of the Court's Order but Google brings them to the Court's attention out of an abundance of caution," their statement read.
Oracle's attention, with the exception of mentioning the known connection with Mueller and its own blogging employees, was very much focused on its opponent. This is a potential clue on what Alsup might have been fishing for when he cast the order last week: someone may have raised concerns with the judge that Google might be playing things fast and loose. Given Oracle's fixation on the issue, this seems likely.
What the judge does with this information may shed more light on his overall intentions. But for now, neither side has revealed any heretofore unknown direct relationships with tech media or bloggers. Only more innuendo and indirect relationships that may or may not have bearing on the case.
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