Thursday, April 14, 2011

Unpaid Bloggers Files $105M Class-Action Suit Against Huffington Post, AOL

A boycott against the Huffington Post has turned into a class-action lawsuit claiming the website denied thousands of bloggers just compensation despite profiting from their content.

The lawsuit, filed in New York Tuesday by labor activist and former Huffington Post blogger Jonathan Tasini, seeks at least $105 million in damages from the Huffington Post and AOL for approximately 9,000 bloggers that Tasini says helped boost the website’s value to the $315 million AOL paid for it in February.

“ has been unjustly enriched by engaging in and continuing to engage in the practice of generating enormous profits by luring carefully vetted contributors, with the prospect of ‘exposure’ (which deceptively fails to verify), to provide valuable content at no cost to the, while reaping the entirety of the financial gain derived from such content,” the lawsuit alleges.

Tasini won a similar case against The New York Times in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001, preventing newspapers from licensing the work of freelancers for distribution via electronic databases without explicit permission from, or compensation to, the writers.

But the Huffington Post says this time Tasini’s lawsuit is “without merit.”

“As we’ve said before, our bloggers use our platform -- as well as other unpaid group blogs across the web -- to connect and help their work be seen by as many people as possible. It’s the same reason hundreds of people go on TV shows to promote their views and ideas,” Huffington Post spokesman Mario Ruiz told

Ruiz said the Huffington Post Media Group agrees media professionals should receive fair compensation, and awards that to its nearly 1,300 full-time editorial staffers, but also makes a distinction between those staffers and its group of bloggers.
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