Posted at 12:39 PM ET, 04/12/2011

AOL, Huffington Post hit with class action suit: Does it make any sense?


( Jimi Celeste/Sipa )
Huffington Post bloggers have long been complaining about not being paid for their work. And after watching the founders of HuffPost make a fortune from its acquisition by AOL, the more litigiously minded have spotted their perfect chance.

Sue the pants off them.

A freelance writer will file a class-action lawsuit against the Huffington Post and AOL Tuesday, seeking $105 million in damages for its unpaid contributors.

Writer Jonathan Tasini said HuffPost was engaging in breach of contract with its contributors because of an “implied promise” of compensation, but declined to provide specifics.

Umm, what?

Having blogged at the Huffington Post myself briefly in June and July 2010, I know full well that no monetary compensation was ever promised to me. Co-founder Arianna Huffington’s editors were always very clear with bloggers about the exchange that was taking place.

When I was set up with a blogging account, one editor told me, “We are not able to provide financial compensation for blog content, but we can give you a larger readership.”

How much clearer can it get? The blogger gives HuffPost content, and the HuffPost gives the blogger attention, readers, publicity, Twitter followers, and on, and on.

It seemed like a fair exchange to me at the time as a young, aspiring journalist who needed to get my name out there. Seeing dozens of comments pop up on my work within minutes was gratifying, and I used the clips to apply for other jobs.

On counterculture site Adbusters, a blogger writes: “Socialite Arianna Huffington built a blog-empire on the backs of thousands of citizen journalists.” But bloggers, if you didn’t think the exchange was fair, why’d you take it?

One point that might support Tasini’s class action suit is an example given in Forbes of a HuffPost writer who says he was promised 50 percent of the proceeds — but never paid — for work that was syndicated.

Tasini has also previously won a suit, New York Times Co. vs. Tasini, that was over the rights of papers to license the work of freelancers for distribution via electronic databases.

Have you blogged for the Huffington Post? If so, what was your experience?

By  |  12:39 PM ET, 04/12/2011

 
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