Oracle and Google meet again to discuss rangeCheck code

Thursday's hearing in the case of Oracle v. Google is just another pit stop on the way to either a new trial or a federal appeals court.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Attorneys for Oracle and Google met for a brief hearing on Thursday morning at the U.S. District Court of Northern California, once again to discuss the copyrightability and potential damages related to the rangeCheck code.

However, the hearing was so short that Judge William Alsup even said to Google lead attorney Robert Van Nest, "Thank you for your brevity."

Basically, nothing new was decided and relatively nothing new was said by either party.

In response to a motion for judgment as a matter of law filed by Google last month, the hearing was called to further discuss the nine lines of code in the rangeCheck method, on which the jury found Google liable for copyright infringement.

Google continues to argue that the use of the rangeCheck method is de minimis as a matter of law, meaning that the use of the nine lines of code is so hardly noticeable that anyone would recognize it.

But Oracle presses on that it doesn't matter how many millions of lines of code there is, and that the standard is that its only de minimis if audience wouldn't recognize it, adding that programmers who can read the code would recognize that copying took place.

If there were a rule to the contrary, Oracle argues that means that plagiarists could copy files "at will" out of a computer program.

Thus, as the judge ended the hearing quickly after both sides presented brief arguments without any further discussion, the testimony from this hearing is essentially additional fodder for determining whether or not there is a new trial covering the rangeCheck method or the case will continue up the appeals court chain.

Followers of the case might have been hoping to hear more about Alsup's recent order, first issued on August 7 , demanding both parties to declare if they had kept any journalists and/or commentators on the payroll during the duration of the case. Both Google and Oracle's legal teams had until Friday, August 17 to comply.

Oracle disclosed that it did retain blogger Florian Mueller as a consultant, who had disclosed that on his blog when the trial started. But Alsup wasn't satisfied with Google's response, issuing an order on Monday that the Internet giant list "all commenters known by Google to have received payments as consultants, contractors, vendors, or employees" by Friday, August 24.

Nevertheless, that doesn't mean Oracle is off the hook on this issue either, as Alsup did write in Monday's order that "the payment might have influenced the blogger’s reports on issues in the civil action," further asking "if a treatise author or blogger is paid by a litigant, should not that relationship be known?"