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Huffington Post sued by unpaid bloggers

india Updated: Apr 13, 2011 11:19 IST

IANS
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The Huffington Post is being sued for $105 million on behalf of the roughly 9,000 bloggers who have contributed content to the website, which was recently acquired by AOL for $315 million.

The suit, which names Arianna Huffington and AOL as co-defendants, was announced by Jonathan Tasini, a labour organiser and journalist who started writing for the website in 2005.

Tasini, who won a well-known case in 2001 against The New York Times in defence of independent contributors and who also has an active political past, said based on the recent purchase of the Huffington Post by AOL for $315 million, many of the contributors thought their work would start being remunerated immediately.

"The value added by the content provided by (the unpaid bloggers) to TheHuffingtonPost.com's price was at least $105 million, none of which was shared," the lawsuit says.

"The Huffington Post was, is and will never be, anything without the thousands of people who create the content," Tasini said in a post on his own website.

"Ms. Huffington is acting like every Robber Baron CEO - from Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs) to the Waltons (owners of Wal-Mart) - who believes that they, and only they, should pocket huge riches, while the rest of the peons struggle to survive."

"Arianna Huffington is a hypocrite. While reaping money and building her 'brand' based on books and speeches decrying the growing divide between rich and poor ... Ms. Huffington is precisely acting to impoverish bloggers," Tasini said.

For now, the activist says that "no one should be writing for the Huffington Post until justice is done" and says that anyone who does is "scab".

He recalled that the Newspaper Guild and National Writers Union called for a strike and boycott of the Huffington Post.

He also plans to publish Wednesday an open letter to "a long list of (named) progressive leaders" who write for Huffington, asking them to join the strike and calling on readers not to visit the web site and to boycott the founder's participation in any public event of a progressive nature until the case is settled.

In response to the lawsuit, a Huffington spokesperson said: "As we've said before, our bloggers use our platform - as well as other unpaid group blogs across the web - to connect and help their work be seen by as many people as possible. It's the same reason people go on TV shows: to promote their views and ideas."