Judge: Google didn't comply with blogger disclosure order in Oracle trial

Judge: Google didn't comply with blogger disclosure order in Oracle trial

Summary: "Google suggests that it has paid so many commenters that it will be impossible to list them all. Please simply do your best but the impossible is not required," says Judge William Alsup.

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TOPICS: Legal, Google, Oracle, Patents
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A Federal judge overseeing the Oracle vs. Google patent lawsuit said that search giant has failed to comply with a request to document all payments to bloggers and writers covering the trial.

Since Google didn't comply with a Aug. 7 order it now has until Aug. 24 at noon PDT.

Here's the full text of what U.S. District Judge William Alsup said in his order:

The August 7 order was not limited to authors “paid . . . to report or comment” or to “quid pro quo” situations. Rather, the order was designed to bring to light authors whose statements about the issues in the case might have been influenced by the receipt of money from Google or Oracle. For example, Oracle has disclosed that it retained a blogger as a consultant. Even though the payment was for consulting work, the payment might have influenced the blogger’s reports on issues in the civil action. Just as a treatise on the law may influence the courts, public commentary that purports to be independent may have an influence on the courts and/or their staff if only in subtle ways. If a treatise author or blogger is paid by a litigant, should not that relationship be known?

In the Court’s view, Google has failed to comply with the August 7 order. Google is directed to do so by FRIDAY, AUGUST 24 AT NOON with the following clarifications. Payments do not include advertising revenue received by commenters. Nor does it include experts disclosed under Rule 26. Google suggests that it has paid so many commenters that it will be impossible to list them all. Please simply do your best but the impossible is not required. Oracle managed to do it. Google can do it too by listing all commenters known by Google to have received payments as consultants, contractors, vendors, or employees. As for organizations receiving money, they need not be listed unless one of its employees was a commenter. Gifts to universities can be ignored. Again, Google need only disclose those commenters that can be identified after a reasonably diligent search. Oracle must supplement its list if this order clarifies any issue for Oracle.

Topics: Legal, Google, Oracle, Patents

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36 comments
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  • That's one way to get a clarification

    However, annoying the judge is never recommended.
    John L. Ries
  • WTH?!

    Is the whole tech-journalism industry on the take?
    dsf3g
    • Apple clearly pays several ZDNet bloggers

      That much is undeniable.
      toddbottom3
      • I'm sure GOOG has serveral ZDNet Bloggers on the 'payroll'

        Can't wait 'til the list is make public.
        oraman
      • So you just earned YOUR paycheck from Google!

        nice job there Toddy! Attaboy!
        athynz
    • Is the whole tech industry on the take? Maybe - Grin.

      Just out of curiosity, I would be interested to see if any bloggers I read regularly were "on the dole", so to speak.
      kenosha77a
    • Highly doubtful that the whole of tech journalism/blogging is on the take

      I, personally, found ZDNet's Rachel King's coverage of the Oracle v. Google trial to be both informative and unbiased.

      Does payment have to be in cash only? No other perks?

      Finally, one does not have to receive cash payments or otherwise to be biased.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • I agree

        at the same time she doesn't seem to be pro-google from her "Android malware plague" agenda. I guess that if one would start counting every pro-google tech person, one would get very tired pretty soon. At the same time, Google is known to be pretty careless of what is said about them and their product (vide: Android patents infringement allegations), whether it is good or bad.
        eulampius
      • Bias

        '[O]ne does not have to receive cash payments or otherwise to be biased.'

        Everyone is biased. The issue here is the extent to which the parties involved in the case have tried to influence the outcome through outside means. Requiring this sort of disclosure sets a good precedent.

        In general, I think journalists, and even bloggers, should be required to disclose any financial relationships that are relevant to topics they write on. This sort of thing is required in some cases (e.g. financial journalism where specific investments are recommended), but I think it should be more widespread.

        It would be nice to have a similar thing in comment systems (e.g. on the ZDNet forums), but it might not be practicable. A simple checkbox before submitting a comment (yes/no to whether the poster has any financial ties to any of the firms discussed in the article) would be a nice compromise, even if probably not enforceable.
        WilErz
        • RE: "Everyone is biased"

          Journalists are trained to keep their bias in check. However, this doesn't mean that they always succeed. For some journalists, blogging is an outlet to let their bias loose. And some news organizations do a better job than others in assuring that their staff keep their bias in check. Isn't that just one reason (there are more reasons) that editors exist?

          Sadly, the increasingly corporate nature of news media means that bias has become ingrained.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
          • It also depends on the sort of media and editorial policy

            Newspapers/magazines (and their websites) often have clear editorial lines, at least on politics, and don't make any pretence of being unbiased. You rarely see right-wing papers supporting left-wing parties/candidates or vice-versa. If you want a balanced view, you read both a left- and a right-wing site -- or stick with the public broadcasters, who are often required by law to be unbiased (and usually do a reasonably good job of it).

            For pure news, I tend to rely on the public broadcasters and a few private sites (linked to newspapers/magazines) where the biases are relatively mild, and largely in line with my own. If I want opinion, I read sites with different editorial positions, especially ones I disagree with, but usually (surprise) end up agreeing with the ones who share my biases.
            WilErz
  • Paid bloggers?

    Do the bloggers disclose if they are paid by an entity before expressing their opinion?
    Is the blogger paid with the implication that they are going to be negative to the competition or positive with the company?
    What other companies pay for this?
    Now for the main question:
    Are there any ZDnet contributers who have received money from a company to relay information with a certain degree of bias?
    rgor@...
  • Judge: Google didn't comply with blogger disclosure order in Oracle trial

    At least now its official and they admit it. More of a reason to refuse using any of Google's services. I don't know of anyone who didn't suspect Google was paying the bloggers.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Admit what?

      Google insisted that there is no network of influencers advocating on its behalf. "Neither Google nor its counsel has paid an author, journalist, commentator, or blogger to report or comment on any issues in this case," the company said in its statement. "And neither Google nor its counsel has been involved in any quid pro quo in exchange for coverage of or articles about the issues in this case."

      They just wanted clarification from the judge as many bloggers are getting money from AdSense. But Google didn't asked anyone to write about the case on their behalf as Oracle did. Oracle just, can't believe that some bloggers like Groklaw are helping people understand the case and asking some expert in programming to help with the analysis on the code that being argued in the court, for free and not being paid by Google direct or indirect.
      korseypig
      • Don't

        be fooled by click bait from paid fools.
        timspublic1@...
  • Lies and deception

    Any dignity left with Google? they are indeed thieves in suits...
    owllnet
    • How bout dignity left for astroturfer paid by microsoft?

      Plenty dignity left with Google compare to Microsoft and Oracle
      korseypig
      • You're the only one to mention Microsoft here so far. So I guess you might

        be one of Google's paid minions. Deflect! Deflect!
        cantbeme
        • isn't this MS Domain?

          When does the comments here ever not anti-Google? I wish Google pays pro-Google comments but they are not like oracle and microsoft.
          korseypig