The status of The Huffington Post's legions of unpaid bloggers is something we've wondered about ever since Arianna's little giant got acquired for a whopping $315 mil. Today, it looks like we don't have to wonder any more, since one blogger has made sure he and his colleagues will be heard loud and clear.
Jonathan Tasini, a writer who has contributed 250 blog posts to HuffPo since 2005, is suing the company and its new parent, AOL, for $105 million in damages on behalf of himself and hundreds of other uncompensated bloggers. The sum amounts to one third of the news and information site's recent valuation.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Tasini had the following to say: “AOL would not have paid $315 million without the value [unpaid writers] created. Arianna Huffington believes she and only she should pocket the money for the value created.”
Tasini argues that his complaints are legally actionable in part because of implied compensation on the part of Huffington and others that never came to fruition. HuffPo, for its part, said it had not yet received the lawsuit, but that such an argument is baseless.
A spokesman recycled the oft-used line that writing for the site is like getting to appear on a cable talk show, and is therefore its own reward.
"It’s the same reason hundreds of people go on TV shows — to broadcast their views to as wide an audience as possible,” he said.
This isn't Tasini's first rodeo. In 2001, he successfully sued The New York Times and other publications for $18 million after they archived freelance work online without due compensation. Now that the gauntlet has officially been thrown in the Huffington Post case, it will be interesting to see how the growing company addresses the issue and what the courts conclude if the suit ever makes it before a judge.