The Guardian UK has some great quotes in its story about how Arianna Huffington, her website and AOL have been slapped with a $105 million class action suit. The suit was brought by a bunch of bloggers who are majorly pissed that she sold the Huffington Post for $315 without sparing them a dime. And the story shines more light on the growing dilemma facing members of the "new media," a world in which a "full-time employee" is as rare as a 100-page issue of a print newspaper.
"Huffington bloggers have essentially been turned into modern day slaves on Arianna Huffington's plantation" complained Jonathan Tasini, who humself wrote hundreds of unpaid posts for HuffPo until the website was sold to AOL this year.
"People who create content ... have to be compensated,” Tasini argued. He and his attorneys contend that some 9,000 people also wrote for the site on an unpaid basis – and their work helped contribute a third of HuffPo's eventual sale price.
Tasini reportedly led a successful suit on behalf of freelancers against the New York Times a decade ago, winning a 2001 supreme court ruling that copyright for print and online versions of an article are separate. And now he’s taking on Huffington and Ken Lerer, who founded HuffPo in 2005, featured some well-known writers, but relied heavily on unpaid bloggers, too.
In a press release, HuffPo said the lawsuit was "completely baseless".
"Our bloggers utilise our platform to connect and ensure that their ideas and views are seen by as many people as possible,” the website claimed. “It's the same reason hundreds of people go on TV shows – to broadcast their views to as wide an audience as possible."
But Tasini vows to "picket” Huffington’s home.