Both Google and Oracle said Friday they did not pay any journalists or bloggers for coverage or commentary of their high-profile copyright infringement battle that recently concluded in a California court, but the companies disagreed on what arrangements should be disclosed.
The statements were made in reply to an Aug. 7 order from Judge William Alsup, who oversaw the case. Alsup asked both companies to disclose if they “retained or paid print or internet authors, journalists, commentators or bloggers who have and/or may publish comments on the issues” in the case.
Both companies had until noon Pacific time on Friday to make their submissions, and they appear to have been filed shortly before the deadline.
“Neither Google nor its counsel has paid an author, journalist, commentator or blogger to report or comment on any issues in this case,” Google said in its statement to the court. “And neither Google nor its counsel has been involved in any quid pro quo in exchange for coverage or articles about the issues in this case.”
Google went on to say that the large amount of material written about the case, coupled with the ease in which opinions can be published online, means that some with an indirect financial connection could have “expressed views regarding this case,” but the company declined to provide a list saying it would be long and, in Google’s opinion, falls outside of the scope and intention of the court’s Aug. 7 order.
It cited examples of universities, political and trade associations, people who use Google’s advertising products on their websites, its own employees, consultants and witnesses.
Oracle identified Florian Mueller, author of the FOSS Patents blog, as “a consultant on competition related matters, especially relating to standards-essential patents,” and noted he disclosed the arrangement in a blog posting on April 18. Oracle also said that some staff members had blogged about the case on its website, but Oracle did not seek to approve any postings in advance.
And then Oracle came out swinging against Google.
“In contrast, Oracle notes that Google maintains a network of direct and indirect ‘influencers’ to advance Google’s intellectual property agenda,” Oracle said in its court statement. “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 believes that Google brought this extensive network of influencers to help shape public perceptions concerning the positions it was advocating throughout this trial,” Oracle’s statement reads.
Oracle went on to single out two people who it said had written on issues related to the case and had links with Google: Ed Black, president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, of which Google is a member, and Jonathan Band, whose book was cited as part of Google’s evidence and who Oracle says has links to Google through trade organizations.
It remains unclear why Alsup issued the original order. Neither party had petitioned the court for such disclosure and it came well after arguments were over in the central part of the case.
Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn’s e-mail address is email@example.com