Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Google: No Paid Bloggers Here, Your Honor

Remember how last week the judge in the all-but-concluded case of Oracle vs. Google ordered the two companies to disclose whom, if anyone, they might have been paying to write about the case? Yeah, that.

So anyway, today was the deadline for the companies to drop their filings, and, well, here they are. Short answer: Oracle reiterated what it said before, that it had retained the patent law blogger Florian Mueller, he of Foss Patents, as a paid consultant in the case, though this wasn’t exactly news since Mueller and Oracle had both already disclosed the relationship. It also mentioned an Oracle corporate blogger who wrote about the case while it was going on.

Google for its part appears to have shrugged. “Neither Google nor its counsel has paid an author, journalist, commentator or blogger to report or comment on any issues in this case. 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.”

That statement more or less sums up Google’s position, though it goes on to say that it doesn’t quite understand what the judge is asking for.

The end of Oracle’s filing provides a clue. It names Ed Black, president and CEO of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, of which Google has long been a paid member, and Jonathan Band, author of the book “Interfaces on Trial 2.0,” which Google referenced in some of its presentations in court.

Says Oracle: “Google maintains a network of direct and indirect ‘influencers’ to advance Google’s intellectual property agenda. 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.”

Update: I’ve just heard from Daniel O’Connor, the Senior Director of Public Policy & Government Affairs at the CCIA, and he reminds me that the organization has long had a staked-out position on the copyrightability of APIs — which was a key issue in the trial — since the days when Oracle and Sun Microsystems were members of the organization and Google was not.

Another update: And now I’ve received a statement from Band:

I am a registered lobbyist for NetCoalition and the Computer & Communications Industry Association, trade associations whose members include Google. Oracle until recently also was a member of CCIA. I do not represent Google.

The book cited in Google’s brief, Interfaces on Trial 2.0, was accepted for publication by MIT Press in the fall of 2009, before Oracle completed its purchase of Sun Microsystems, and approximately a year before Oracle sued Google. As the book clearly indicates, much of it is based on articles I authored or co-authored prior to 2005, while I was a partner at Morrison & Foerster, the firm that now represents Oracle in this litigation. Several of my co-authors were also Morrison & Foerster lawyers.

The book advances the same policy perspective as the first volume, Interfaces on Trial, which was published in 1995, when I was a partner at Morrison & Foerster. In the Acknowledgements section of that volume, we thank Michael Jacobs (the Morrison & Foerster partner who signed the Oracle filing) and several other then-Morrison & Foerster partners for their contribution to our understanding of copyright law. Both books are available for free download at http://www.policybandwidth.com/interfaces-2-0.

It should be noted that the policy perspective we articulated in both books was shared by Sun Microsystems, and, at that time, by Oracle. Sun and Oracle not only were members of the CCIA, but were also members of the American Committee for Interoperable Systems and the European Committee for Interoperable Systems, groups that advocated positions consistent with those taken by Google in this case.

There you have it. We’ll see what presiding Judge William Alsup says about this in the coming days. I’ve embedded the two filings below.

First, Google’s filing.

GOOG-1237-main

And now Oracle’s.

Oracle Response to Aug. 7 Order


Latest Video

View all videos »

Search »

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work