AOL and Huffington Post sued by unpaid bloggers

NEW YORK Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:51pm EDT

Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post Media Group takes a question during a Women and Media 3.0 panel discussion at the Women in the World conference in New York March 12, 2011. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post Media Group takes a question during a Women and Media 3.0 panel discussion at the Women in the World conference in New York March 12, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Huffington Post unfairly pocketed more than $100 million from its unpaid bloggers when AOL Inc bought the influential news website in February, according to a lawsuit filed on Tuesday.

The suit, filed in Manhattan federal court, comes two months after Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the website, sold it to AOL for $315 million.

Of that price, at least $105 million was the estimated value of the website's unpaid writings, which should now be given to the bloggers, the lawsuit says.

"The Huffington Post is nothing without the bloggers who created the content," said Jonathan Tasini, a one-time Huffington Post blogger who filed the suit and is seeking class-action status on behalf of the bloggers.

Part opinion and part news, the left-of-center website has to some extent relied on free contributions by celebrities, politicians and experts to drive traffic, turning it into a major online force since it started in 2005.

A spokesman for the website said he had not reviewed the lawsuit, but called the allegations "completely baseless."

"Our bloggers utilize our platform to connect and ensure that their ideas and views are seen by as many people as possible," spokesman Mario Ruiz said.

"It's the same reason hundreds of people go on TV shows to broadcast their views to as wide an audience as possible."

To what extent the website's sale value or estimated revenue was based on unpaid blogs is unclear, the lawsuit acknowledged, but it claimed the roughly 9,000 unpaid bloggers should receive their fair cut.

The lawsuit also called for the website to release detailed information on the Internet traffic to and from the blogs.

John Coffee Jr, a professor at New York's Columbia University Law School, said the lawsuit would likely be dismissed by a judge as the bloggers' decision to contribute to the website was a rational one, and that the Internet site was within its rights to profit from the free content.

The case is Jonathan Tasini v Aol Inc et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 11-cv-2472.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Mark Egan and Lisa Von Ahn)

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Comments (2)
tgwoe wrote:
The guests at a house party don’t get a percent when the house is sold! What a silly bunch these “bloggers” must be!

Apr 12, 2011 3:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
KiazerSouze wrote:
The Huffington Post has Art reporters who are agents of foreign governments working for them. They pose as sympathetic news reporters for Armenians; yet they go and do edits on Wikpedia to diminish the legacies of fallen Armenian heros like Monte Melkonian. They also are working for supposedly U.S. in the spy networks. However, these spies are playing a very dangerous game with GOD. I promise you this, they will be ending up at the bottom of Dante’s inferno. Tell to dress warm.

Apr 12, 2011 3:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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