Fallout from the Oracle vs. Google case has landed on unexpected -- but not undeserving -- heads: Those of propagandists masquerading as journalists.
In a terse order issued today, San Francisco District Court Judge William Alsup mandated Google and Oracle to list the names of all the phony journalists in their employ.
"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," reads Alsup's order.
"...Each side and its counsel shall file a statement herein clear (sic) 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."
The tech giants have 10 days to name names.
Alsup's order will certainly loom large during the inevitable appeal of the case, in which Oracle unsuccessfully sued Google for intellectual property infringement. The judge even noted that "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."
While Alsup's order is, naturally, limited to the heavyweight litigants in this case, don't expect it to be the last legal swipe at the practice of "Astroturfing."
The last word in this story belongs to either the Gospel or Shakespeare. We'll list both, and give the nod to the Bard:
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? -- Mark 8:36.
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him,
And makes me poor indeed. -- Othello, Act III, Scene iii
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