Bloggers 'not owed pay for freelance columns'

Freelance contributions to the Huffington Post by bloggers did not provide substantial enough value for the AOL-owned title, recently valued at $315m, that they are entitled to be paid, a court ruled.

To the disappointment of some 9,000 bloggers, a judge in New York dismissed a lawsuit against the Huff Po for “unjust enrichment,” based on the fact that such third-party contributors went unpaid.

On their behalf, author Jonathan Tasini filed the suit in April last year, accusing Post founder Arianna Huffington of wrongly denying them compensation for the substantial value they created and she used.

Speaking at the time, a legal representative for Tasini said: “We intend to prove at trial that the content and services provided by the over 9,000 members of the class created substantial value for the Huffington Post.

“We hope to establish a strong precedent that in the digital age content producers must be compensated for the value they create.”

But in court, the presiding judge John Koeltl all but disagreed, reportedly finding that no remuneration is owed (including the $105m sum pursued), because no one forced the writers to submit their work to Huff Po. The bloggers also admitted that they didn’t expect to be compensated for their contributions.

Dismissing the suit, the judge added: “In such circumstances, equity and good conscience counsel against retroactively altering the parties’ clear agreements.”

Despite the ruling, Tasini told the Australian Newspaper that he is not giving up the fight against what he called the “cancer” of media outlets demanding that writers contribute their work for free.

 

3rd April 2012

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