U.S. District Judge William Alsup is worried that Google and Oracle may have paid off writers during their lawsuit, and now he's going to find out if they did. He's ordered Google and Oracle to disclose a list of journalists and bloggers the companies hired to write about their high-profile lawsuit. Alsup says that even though the case is mostly over, the court is "concerned" that Google and Oracle may have paid news writers to publish stories - either in print or on the Internet - that commented on the case.
So, because of this concern, both companies now have until noon on August 17th to disclose any payments they or their counsel made to authors, journalists, bloggers, or commentators. This could result in some bad PR for Google or Oracle if either one of them comes back with a long list of writers who were paid to cover the lawsuit, and indeed, both Google and Oracle are keeping silent on Alsup's order.
Naturally, it isn't good to have companies paying writers to report one-sided items, and it may be that Alsup is looking to call attention to the problem with this order. It's true that it doesn't much matter with this case in particular now, as Oracle was unsuccessful in its attempt to sue Google, but by making both companies hand over lists of any writers who received payment during the suit, Alsup is making a statement that it isn't going to be tolerated. That could send a message to any writers looking to make a few extra bucks on the side in the future (at least that's the hope).
With both companies required to disclose their payments in just about a week-and-a-half, it won't be much longer before we find out what, exactly, was going on behind the scenes. It may not be the most desirable situation for Google and Oracle, but we're sure that many people will be happy to see Judge Alsup taking a hard stance on this. Stay tuned - well have more details on this as they develop.