April 12th, 2011

Bloggers sue Huffington and AOL

This news is hardly surprising: bloggers for HuffPo who didn’t share in the AOL acquisition monies are suing both Arianna Huffington and AOL in a class action suit. As I noted when the news of the sale of HuffPo first came out, “it’s interesting that there are 6,000 bloggers working for free for HuffPo, and they didn’t get a dime. We bloggers, what we do for love!”

But HuffPo is no longer a lovefest. As former HuffPo blogger and lead plaintiff Jonathan Tasini indicated to Forbes’ Jeff Bercovici during a phone call, “Tasini vowed to make Huffington ‘a pariah in the progressive community’ and said his goal is to set a precedent that writers must share in the value they create.”

The bloggers understood themselves to be volunteers; what does that mean when the product they help develop is sold for tons of money? Under contract law, not much. But the plaintiffs are not suing under contract law, their cause of action will be based on unjust enrichment.

Tasini has more to say to Arianna:

She’ll never [be invited to] speak. We will picket her home. We’re going to make it clear that, until you do justice here, your life is going to be a living hell.”…Anybody blogging for the Huffington Post now is a scab,” he says. “They’re a strike breaker. They’re producing content for somebody who is attacking workers.”

Ah, the left and its fine rhetoric. Arianna may do a rerat and end up taking refuge on the right again before this is through.

27 Responses to “Bloggers sue Huffington and AOL”

  1. Artfldgr Says:

    For people who hate capitalism, they are sure capitalist… whats wrong, they dont like innocents clubs? the whole point is to mobilize people into million dollar action for free… huff and aol will win… the nature of the relationship with the bloggers was always free… in fact, aol is about all who might have tort ability, given that huff could not transfer volunteers to aol…

  2. Scott Says:

    You linked to a Churchill phrase, but I always think about P.T. Barnum’s most famous quote when I read about the ongoing squabble between Zsa Zsa and her unpaid scriveners at HuffPo.

  3. gcotharn Says:

    HuffPo bloggers “put in their 2 cents worth?”

  4. Judith Says:

    Ariana is no Churchill…I say we throw her back.


  5. Donald Douglas Says:

    Buncha crybabies …

    Money grubbers too!

  6. newton Says:

    I’m getting some popcorn. Who wants some?

  7. Papa Dan Says:

    It isn’t cheap to keep rapidshare and hotfile accounts ya know . . .

  8. LAG Says:

    Leftists are great at sharing, money, time, talent, whatever, as long as it’s your money, time, etc. What’s theirs is theirs.

    This makes perfect sense for both parties assuming you agree that there’s any sense to anything they do.

  9. Trimegistus Says:

    “Progressives” keep getting their noses rubbed in the fact that the leaders they follow and idealize are cynically exploiting them for personal gain.

    And the poor damned fools keep coming back for more of the same.

  10. Occam's Beard Says:

    The worst money grubbers I’ve ever encountered, by far, have been socialists.

    Teaching in a European university that prided itself on its socialist bona fides, I was shocked at how rapacious they could be when there was actually any money (e.g., industrial research contracts) in prospect.

    Over the side went all the high-minded speechifying about helping mankind (or “humankind,” as they probably would say today) and the earnest wide-eyed pronouncements about imparting knowledge to the world. Dr. Jekyll instantly transmogrified into Mr. Hyde, who evinced naked venality and grasping avarice that would have made a nineteenth century robber baron blush.

    I was mortified on several occasions by their chiseling. Part of them problem, I suspect, was that they had no idea how the business world works, and failed to grasp that reciprocity is the key to, well, all human interactions. Instead they tried to gouge every nickel out of a potential partner, and in the process blew some otherwise promising deals.

    So Zsa Zsa’s actions, and the comrades’ reaction to them, do not come as a surprise.

  11. SteveH Says:

    No doubt regular commenters at huffpo will get lawyers next.

  12. Bill West Says:

    The idea of intellectual property, say a patent on a life-saving drug, is repugnant to progressives. They argue to allow a generic manufacturer (preferrably in a developing country) make it without having to recover the costs of research.

    The value of their written work, whose value was first established when they conveyed it to HuffPo, is quite another matter.

  13. Hong Says:

    More please, let the libs tear each other to pieces. It’s patriotic and entertaining to watch.

  14. Csimon Says:

    Heard this this afternoon while in the car and was hoping you’d hear about it & comment!

    What I heard was that this “leader” of the suit, Tasini, is very pro-union (surprise) and may want to organize bloggers into a union.

    I do not have a legal degree, but given that all those who contributed, did so knowing that they were in fact, volunteers, doesn’t give them much to stand on. Also, I’m guesing that just as most online businesses have pretty specific terms clauses requiring an “I agree to terms” consent before using said site. I would also guess that Huffington Post must have this covered. Of course, never having submitted anything to HuffPo for publication (it’s hard enough to make myself read it to be informed on Progressive culture!), I can’t know for sure, but I would be surprised if HuffPo doesn’t require some release in order to publish articles received.

    As for unjust enrichment, newsflash: “enrichment” doesn’t mean guaranteed financial gain. Just getting their writing published is one kind of gain, as is getting a byline and recognition which they otherwise would not have. Though again, I’m guessing that Tasini talked to lawyers re: how he might sue and on what grounds, I’ll be surprised if this case is certified by a judge as a class action lawsuit and can proceed. Then again, there are plenty of activist judges (why does it seem they’re usually on the left?) who might allow this to procede. This is what happens when people grow up in the litigious society we now have.

    There will always be lawyers who will take on the suit for a chunk of change down the road, but if the suit is certified, Arianna’s going to have to pony up for some lawyers no matter how spurious the charges. (Wonder if as officer of the business, the business itself will pay for lawyers for her — which is probably the case).

    And meanwhile, Arianna and her partner created a viable business model that built value for which another compay was willing to pay — alot. Nothing stops Tasini from starting up a competing website that will pay all writers. The thing is – would that be viable and could he find a single investor who will put up cash to back it? That is really his remedy to the unfairness he perceives. It’s a free market and

  15. holmes Says:

    So much of progressivism is projecting their own pathologies onto other people. “Greedy capitalists!” (since we ourselves are greedy). “Violent right-wingers!” (since we ourselves resort to voilence). Etc.

  16. Csimon Says:

    oops. Just a period after “market;” no “and.”

  17. Occam's Beard Says:

    No doubt regular commenters at huffpo will get lawyers next.

    Might I suggest those from the National Lawyers’ Guild? Might as well keep this all in the collective family, as it were.

  18. kolnai Says:

    It is a beautiful thing when the left gets so tangled up in the web of its contradictions that it hangs itself. The aesthetics of it are wondrous to behold.

    Still, we need to make sure we don’t hang ourselves much more spectacularly with Donald Trump, seeing as how he’s now talking about running independently if – when – he loses in the GOP primaries.

    I couldn’t imagine a darker scenario for 2012. If he really is that selfish – as Hotair said, “Make me the Republican nominee or I’ll give Obama a second term” – then we conservatives owe it to ourselves to crush his ambitions, pronto. If he means what he’s saying, God help us.

  19. kolnai Says:

    Sorry – wasn’t Hotair, it was Aaron Worthing at Patterico:


  20. jon baker Says:

    With all the depressing stuff in the news, this should make for some good comedy.

  21. Beverly Says:

    Tasini is the president of the National Writers Union, I believe. He was the point man on the Supreme Court case against the publishers who were stealing [yes, stealing] writers’ work by putting it on the internet without paying or asking permission. He ain’t always wrong. And he’s incredibly persistent, so Arianna better have her tin panties on.

    I hope she gets toasted.

  22. Beverly Says:

    Yep! here you go. Tasini stuck a FORK in the New York Times.


    Most gratifying. (The Slimes, I’ve heard from freelance writers, pays its freelancers coolie wages when they do condescend to pay you: of course, you’re supposed to swoon at the prospect of writing for the Gray Lady, you peasant.)

  23. Beverly Says:

    One more goodie: my friend Anita B. used to work as a copy editor for Time Magazine. NY State labor law requires that a company offer any full-time freelancers health benefits if they are there for over 9 months.

    So what does the “progressive” oasis of Time Mag. do? They keep the copy editors (making $20/hour) on full time for 8 months, 2 weeks; then lay them off. For 2 weeks.

    Then rehire them. Isn’t that special. Can we talk about hypocrisy now?

    Or what about NYU? Adjunct “professors” make coolie wages. $1,000 for a semester teaching adult education courses. But they’re oh so concerned for the Working Man. /bah

  24. Papa Dan Says:

    Beverly- I think that’s typical at most newspapers. At the paper I worked at there were always a few freelance photogs who worked for very little with no benefits, really not much better than stringers. And they would work their butts off to get a chance to be full time, but they would become good photographers in the process. All in all it was a good system until the occasional “star” shooter would be hired in from a paper like the NY Times, and inevitably they would be no better than spoiled prima donnas.

  25. Libby Says:

    “Arianna may do a rerat and end up taking refuge on the right again..”

    She’s not welcome here. I’m sure Soros will take care of her.

  26. Gringo Says:

    HuffPo writers voluntarily worked for free for years. So ZsaZsa screwed them by profiting from their unpaid labor?

    Shame on ZsaZsa.

    If the HuffPo writers continue to work for free, shame on them. (Fool me twice, shame on me.)

    All the HuffPo writers need to do is withhold their services. Like Lysistrata. No more screwing.

    I occasionally commented at HuffPo, but stopped when I realized that the other commenters were less concerned with facts and logic than they were with denouncing bigoted knuckle-dragging wingnuts. It was wasting my time.

    If the HuffPo writers continue to write for free for someone who has profited from their services, and resent that, they are similarly wasting their time by continuing to write for free.

  27. Artfldgr Says:

    And the poor damned fools keep coming back for more of the same.

    the result of normalizing victim class dialectics.

    or as erin pizzey said, some people are masochists, and if so, they tend to get their ‘fix’ negatively, than positively (as a game). which she coined in terms of domestic violence, that some gravitate to it, and make it happen, on both sides.

    the other side of the coin is like what i am going through at work. the studies courses have told them things that dont work. like someone with less than 4 years experience is equal and surpases someone with 30 years experience… which is why they are promoted… and right now, my boss is pitting us against each other to see who can solve a problem that she created by lack of due diligence and wants to blame on me. well, poor guy, i have raced past him, and he has come over to see and get help. but i showed him the secret email which forbids me from helping him at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i guess he shouldnt have been loyal to her and screwed me… (but whats right is right, and she should know she is doing that to him with someone who can run rings around him on a bad day – but is assmed to be incompetent)

    besides, if i am going to compete, he should know i am going to go balls out and he isnt going to look good BECAUSE of what she is doing.

    she refuses to eat crow.
    i hope she likes it
    she has a big pile on her plate that will evntually catch up to her… (but i may be destroyed in the process)

    its these broken methods of thinking and knowing which also creates the situation where they go to the only power they can, no matter how abusive it is.

    which is why they promoted someone who is half my age, and not even experienced over me… that person believes they are promoted for competence, but the truth is that they are promoted for lack of it. this way they owe the boss everything. which is why she is screwing her own people and attempting to whip rocks to get more blood to make up for the HUGE mistakes she is making due to inexperience. (of course cassandra syndrome is at play here, see wiki. cant do aythig about unrealistic expectations)

    they know, or think they kow, that if they promote competence, it can leave… and a incompetent slave is better to a power person with a kingdom who can roll bad off onto the chump… than a competent person who wants to be treated like a human being and can leave you in a lurch becuase of your bs.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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