Appeals Court Smacks Down Unpaid HuffPo Bloggers Who Demanded A Cut Of HuffPo Sale
from the easily-dismissed dept
After Huffington Post was sold to AOL for $315 million, there was a really, really silly discussion among a small group of the volunteers who blogged on the site for free (again, voluntarily), who whined about how this was somehow unfair. They ignored the fact that they took none of the risk, spent none of the money, had no obligations to provide content and clearly agreed to receive no money for their actions — but still, they whined. Some then went even further and filed a very silly lawsuit, led by Jonathan Tasini. Tasini, previously, had successfully sued the NY Times concerning that company’s handling of freelance works. Of course, given that he’s now sued two major publications which he freelanced for, what publication would ever allow him to write freelance pieces again? It seemed that his success in the NYT suit led him to be over confident with this lawsuit. There was simply no basis for it: he blogged on the site voluntarily, knowing that he’d receive no compensation for it. To then whine that the investors, who took all the risk, made some money selling the site when he had no equity stake in the site, isn’t just sour grapes, it’s legally ridiculous.
Thankfully, the district court smacked the case down pretty hard, and did so with prejudice, denying him the ability to refile an amended complaint. However, Tasini wasn’t ready to give up, and appealed the original ruling. The appeals court has now taken its turn in smacking down the lawsuit, noting that Tasini’s argument is simply ridiculous, as you can see in the full filing (also embedded below):
The problem with plaintiffs’ argument is that it has no basis in their Amended Complaint. Nowhere in the Amended Complaint do plaintiffs allege that The Huffington Post represented that their work was purely for public service or that The Huffington Post would not subsequently be sold to another company. To the contrary, plaintiffs were perfectly aware that The Huffington Post was a forprofit enterprise, which derived revenues from their submissions through advertising. Perhaps most importantly, at all times prior to the merger when they submitted their work to The Huffington Post, plaintiffs understood that they would receive compensation only in the form of exposure and promotion. Indeed, these arrangements have never changed.
Though it is no doubt a great disappointment to find that The Huffington Post did not live up to the ideals plaintiffs ascribed to it, plaintiffs have made no factual allegations that, if taken as true, would permit the inference that The Huffington Post deceived the plaintiffs or otherwise received a benefit at the expense of the plaintiffs such that equity and good conscience require restitution.
In other words, Tasini’s inability to accept the deal he made, and the fact that he apparently got jealous of Huffington’s ability to sell the site, is not a legal issue at all. The court also re-affirms that the dismissal with prejudice was entirely proper. Maybe, instead of spending all this time on lawsuits, Tasini would be better served trying to build his own site. Of course, as was ironically noted after he filed his lawsuit, Tasini actually did that once and didn’t pay the bloggers who blogged for him…