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Judge Alsup Orders Financial Disclosure of Ties to Commentators in Oracle v Google ~pj
Tuesday, August 07 2012 @ 06:05 PM EDT

My dreams are coming true all day long today. First SCO heads for Chapter 7, and now the very Honorable William Alsup has ordered financial disclosure of any financial ties to commentators and bloggers and both parties, Oracle and Google, must reveal any such by noon on Friday.

Here you go, from the order:

"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 this case. Although proceedings in this matter are almost over, they are not fully over yet and, in any event, the disclosure required by this order would 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. Therefore, each side and its counsel shall file a statement herein clear identifying 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. This disclosure shall be filed by NOON ON FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 2012."
No, Groklaw won't be on the list. We have no financial ties to anybody, direct or indirect, and now you'll get the proof. Guess who just might be, though?

Here's the order:

08/07/2012 - 1229 - ORDER RE DISCLOSURE OF FINANCIAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH COMMENTATORS ON ISSUES IN THIS CASE. Signed by Judge Alsup on August 7, 2012. (whalc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/7/2012) (Entered: 08/07/2012)

I seriously can't wait for noon on Friday. Say, they should do this for all litigation, don't you think? Like Apple v. Samsung, for example. And could somebody please nominate Judge Alsup for the US Supreme Court the millisecond there is an opening? It would be so refreshing to have somebody on the highest court who actually understands not only the tech but how some tech companies play the game.

Update: BuzzFeed has some lawyers reacting. They don't seem as thrilled as I am, and they expect pushback:

"I've never seen any order like this before," said Eric Goldman, law professor at Santa Clara University, "We're in unchartered territory here."...

"I'm concerned by the false positives. The literal order is about people who have blogged about the case and gotten money from Google well, I've blogged the case and I do get Google AdSense money. I meet the literal terms of the order," Goldman said. Additionally, he could think of two situations where the order might conflict with one's constitutional right to privacy: an attorney/client privilege (lots of lawyers are blogging this case) and a journalistic privilege, if someone paid Google or Oracle as a source for information....

The problem of biased think tanks and sketchy lobbying groups is widespread in tech, as other industries: a recent two-part San Jose Mercury News story named names of such paid advocates in the Google and Microsoft anti-trust actions. "Disclosures of conflict is a very tricky topic. We don't have enough disclosure on these conflicts," he said. "I think the judge's impulses are commendable. I don't think he can do what he did, though."...

"I've not seen anything like this. More than anything, I'm frankly curious whether there's something behind this," Julie Samuels, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "For Judge Alsup to issue such a broad order, once the trial is done, it means that there's something serious he's concerned about, or the court is out of place."

I think the concern about false positives will be easy to deal with. Just ask the judge for a clarification of the order. As to the rest, I'm not a lawyer, let alone a Constitutional scholar, so let's wait and see.

Update 2: The Verge is now reporting that Google says it will comply with the order. So it's not fighting it, probably it doesn't have any worries, so while Oracle's statement points at Google, I don't think so. Here's Oracle's statement:

Oracle has always disclosed all of its financial relationships in this matter, and it is time for Google to do the same. We read this order to also include indirect payments to entities who, in turn, made comments on behalf of Google.
Well, we'll see. How long ago did Oracle and Florian Mueller know they'd be working together? When did they announce it? I mean, Florian did well into the case, but did Oracle ever? I must have missed it, if it did.

Just for context, here's an article I wrote about all the damage Google endured in the media, for what turned out to be no good reason.

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