The Oracle vs. Google lawsuit is over, at least for now, but there are still some interesting developments coming out of it. The judge presiding the case, William Alsup, has now asked both companies to reveal whether they paid bloggers, journalists or anyone else to write in their favor and who these persons are.
It's an interesting turn of events if only because courts rarely ask for this type of information even though the phenomenon is more common than it would seem.
"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 the case," the court order said.
The judge believes that this information could "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."
Some worry that this order is too broad to be of any use. Basically, the judge is asking for the companies to reveal any kind of financial link between them and the people that may have covered the case. This list could be rather large and not particularly useful since the judge didn't specify whether those payments had to be in direct relation to the things being written.
So far, the only known such case is that of Florian Mueller, who covers patent and sometimes copyright-related cases. Several days after the trial got underway this spring, he revealed that he was being paid by Oracle as a consultant. He had been covering the case since the beginning.
Oracle has said that it reveals all of its "financial relationships" and is asking for Google to do the same. Whether Oracle paid more people or whether Google paid some as well, August 17, the date by which the companies have to reveal the relationships to the court, is going to be an interesting date.