Jurors in Oracle-Google copyright case told to tighten social media privacy settings

Jurors in the copyright case between Oracle and Google have been advised to gate off their social media accounts, after warnings that they may be sought out by journalists.

Judge Alsup told the jury pool to change their privacy settings on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter to stop them being pursued by tech and business reporters, warning them that he "can't control the press".

It's not just journalists that the jurors need to worry about, however. During pre-trial hearings, lawyers from the two companies admitted that they were planning to comb the internet for information on the potential jurors.

Google's counsel have agreed not to use the company's technological might to dig up data on the candidates, but Judge Alsup has nevertheless requested that the company's legal teams disclose any and all online searches regarding jury members.

According to the American Bar Association, which governs the conduct of US lawyers, the investigation of online accounts by legal personnel is permitted, but requesting access to private accounts is not.

The two legal teams are currently attempting to whittle the jury pool down to a panel of ten. This jury will then decide the outcome of the case, which began on Monday.

The dispute centres around Google's use of the Java APIs in its Android operating system. Oracle claims they are covered by copyright, and as such, Google owes it a percentage of all profits derived from Android.

The case previously went to trial back in 2012, but a deadlocked jury and repeated failures in mediation has led to a re-trial. If successful, Oracle could be awarded a 6 billion payout from the search giant.

06/05/2016: Google and Oracle's lawyers prepare for Monday's Android, Java retrial

The retrial of a 6 billion copyright case between Google and Oracle is set to begin on Monday.

The case hinges on Google's inclusion of Java in its Android OS, with Oracle claiming it was unlawfully used, and that the search giant now owes it a share of the profits derived from Android - some $8.8 billion.

Despite Java's open source nature, Oracle has laid claim to the language's APIs, which Google used in the development of Android. Google, however, claims that its usage of Java is covered under fair use.

Previous attempts to resolve the dispute have failed, after an initial trial in 2012 resulted in jury deadlock, and last month's mediation attempts between the two companies' CEOs were unsuccessful.

The case has been somewhat legally contentious, too. The first trial led to US district judge William Alsup ruling that things like Java APIs could not be copyrighted, before this was overturned by a federal appeals court judge.

While the potential 6 billion payout would appear to be bad news for Google, analysts have brushed it off as a comparative drop in the bucket for the company, which turned over $75 billion in revenue last year alone. FBB Capital Partners director Mike Bailey said it would have little impact on shareholders.

Oracle aims to limit the use of Java in subsequent Android releases via an injunction, but this may be unnecessary, as Google is reportedly planning to ditch the technology altogether for the forthcoming Android N.

19/04/2016:Google and Oracle CEOs fail to come to Java agreement

Google and Oracle are heading to court after their respective CEOs failed to come to any kind of agreement over the claim Google is using Java in Android illegally.

Despite Google boss Sundar Pichai and Oracle CEO Safra Catz meeting to discuss the $9 billion IP argument, they were unable to agree whether Google was using the technology legally and whether it should pay a share of its profits.

Oracle claims Google is using Java unlawfully in its Android mobile operating system, yet the debate only popped up after Oracle bought Sun Microsystems in 2009 - one year after the initial launch of Google's mobile operating system.

The problem is that although Java is open source, Oracle claims it holds copyright of the APIs used in the programming language. Because Google used these in Android, rather than just the source code, Oracle believes it's entitled to $9 billion of Google's cash - of which $875 million is damages and the rest is a share of the company's profits.

A judge has previously ruled in favour of Oracle, yet Google is still refusing to pay up.

The judge wrote after the eight-hour pre-trial: "After an earlier run at settling this case failed, the court observed that some cases just need to be tried. This case apparently needs to be tried twice.

"However unsuccessful, the court appreciates the parties' settlement efforts earlier today, especially those of Ms Catz and Mr Pichai."

Google has reduced its use of Java in Android over the years and it's rumoured that Android N will be the first version of the operating system not to include any aspects of the code at all.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.