back to article Adjust your Facebook, Twitter privacy settings, judge tells jurors in Oracle-Google Java trial

The judge in the long-running Oracle-Google copyright lawsuit has advised jurors to adjust the privacy settings on their social media outlets – noting, "I can't control the press," and warning that story-seeking journalists would look them up. Judge Alsup addressed the juror pool this morning in San Francisco as lawyers from …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "As often happens in tech cases, ignorance in jurors is seen as preferable, despite the fact that cases such as this often rely on a good understanding of complex technology and technological concepts...Google's argument that its use of those copyrighted APIs constitutes fair use"

    It seems an odd situation to me. I'd have thought it was a matter of law rather fact and for law the judge is arbiter.

    Traditionally a jury's role was to work out who was telling the truth and the judge did the technical bit, i.e. the law. When we have other technical issue to consider neither seems really appropriate. I don't know what the answer is but it seems to me that there's a real problem here.

    1. Mark 85

      It's been a bit mangled over time it seems. Once upon a time, courts wanted jurists who had no pre-conceived notions about a given trial and by that usually meant they didn't follow the investigations, know any witnesses, defendants, etc. They also didn't follow along anythng in the papers (print days). Somewhere, the lawyers finagled things a bit such they don't want anyone on a jury to have any knowledge, technical or otherwise. Basically, they want ignorance so they teach the jurors... or something like that. So what happens is, we in the States get jurors who have no tech knowledge deciding tech cases.

      The one thing I never liked about our system here in the States is that jurors can never, ever ask questions of lawyers or witnesses. Court cases now consist of carefully controlled spoonfuls of only the information that the lawyers think need to be heard. Truth? That seems to have gone out the window when they stopped dunking witches in Salem.

      1. RedneckMother

        What also floats?

        Bread! Small rocks!

        A Duck!

        1. Stephen Wilkinson

          Re: What also floats?

          What duck?

          1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

            Re: What also floats?

            Not "What duck?".

            It's: "Why a duck? Why-a no chicken?"

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      My comment elsewhere in this thread about jury selection in NI brings to mind a possible solution.

      The so-called Diplock courts there ( )* were held without jury to avoid the very real risk of jury intimidation. The judge acted as a tribunal of fact as well as of law. The process of announcing a verdict was very different from that of a jury.

      In a jury trial a judge reviews the evidence drawing the jury's attention to relevant areas** but leaves it up to the jury to make up their own minds as to which witnesses they believe and what weights they place on different items of evidence. A jury considers it and simply gives a verdict of guilty or not guilty with no explanation.

      A Diplock judge reviewed the evidence and gave a reasoned verdict. The reasoning would go beyond any simple review. He would place on public record the sorts of considerations of fact that a jury would have kept in the jury room. I'm not sure whether, under the particular legislation of Diplock, this reasoning could be challenged in a higher court but in principle such a reasoned argument could be reviewed on appeal.

      This seems to me a basis for a court which could decide technical cases. The judge would sit without jury and give a reasoned verdict combining technical and legal issues. In order to assist the judge the court would be able to appoint one or more lay(in the legal sense) technical advisors*** to sit on the bench with the judge, hear evidence and legal arguments and, like the judge, question witnesses and lawyers. They would then assist the judge in formulating a reasoned verdict. Parties would be able to appeal the verdict on the basis of both the technical and legal reasoning.

      * The Republic of Ireland also had non-jury court but the bench consisted of three members. AFAIK these were two judges of different rank and a magistrate.

      ** Judges have been known to try to lead juries to specific verdicts and juries have been known to ignore this.

      *** This raises the question of where such advisors might be found. The advisor(s) would ideally to be acceptable to both parties and one possibility might be to have the parties draw up an agreed panel of advisors. If they were unable to agree the judge might then choose his own, either from a balanced choice of the two parties nominees, from submitters of amicus curae briefs or from his own research. In the longer run it's likely that a panel of available experts would emerge to serve as advisors with a formal appointment process.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge


    For the last line. A real gem!

    1. Otto is a bear.

      Re: @Keiran

      Which all goes to prove lawyers know nothing, about God, but at least She knows about them.

  3. gnufrontier

    The technical bits

    Jurors may be ignorant of technology but they are also ignorant of what necessarily constitutes copyright. Apparently this is also the case with lawyers well versed in copyright law otherwise this case would not be necessary in the first place. We could have saved years of negotiating with the Iranians if we have simply put together 10 people who didn't know Isaac Newton from a Fig Newton and let them decide if the Iranians had a nuclear weapons program or not.

    What is often forgotten is that a trial by jury is a jury of one's peers. Our legal system has somehow made a corporation a person and created the fiction that the person holding the stop sign during roadwork is part of the peer group of advanced technologists.

    The doors to the courthouse have become a rabbit hole to Wonderland.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The technical bits

      "Jurors ... are also ignorant of what necessarily constitutes copyright."

      This is something on which the judge should instruct them in his summing up. That's taken care of. It's non-legal technicalities where the system has got too far behind.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The technical bits

      So if I'm reading your comment correctly, "lawyers well versed in copyright law" are " ignorant of what necessarily constitutes copyright".

      However, I assume that you would be able to enlighten everyone gnufrontier?

      The Dunning–Kruger is strong with this one.

  4. Otto is a bear.

    The American Way

    It strikes me as odd, that lawyers have so much power over jury selection, and so many rights to pry, in the UK we trust our Juries to do the right thing, which they do. Having served on several, I've always found that jurors take their duty very seriously, and on the rare occasions you get a "Find him guilty, I need to get home" member, the rest usually stamp on them. I also noticed that the people most hated by the Jurors are, you guessed it, the Lawyers.

    The best one can hope for in Oracle v Google is that the Judge finds them both contemptible and fines them several billion dollars for wasting the court's time, although, I suspect the lawyers will waste even more of their clients money before they reach an amicable agreement, I wonder which one will call Saul.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The American Way

      "in the UK we trust our Juries to do the right thing...Having served on several"

      I don't know where you served but in NI I have seen individual jury panel members turned down. Each side has the right to a number of peremptory challenges and to challenge with cause over and above that number.

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