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…

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Companies: aol, huffington post

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Comments on “Appeals Court Smacks Down Unpaid HuffPo Bloggers Who Demanded A Cut Of HuffPo Sale”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Knew Mike would have to jeer at the writers.

Yet again this shows how Ivy League 1% Mike is totally aligned with the class he was born into: The Rich; taking the side of Huffington against people who helped make her rich (to whatever slight degree). Now, I didn’t think the legal case had a chance, but Mike is just sneering — like Zuckerman: “really, really silly” … “whined” — doesn’t he just DRIP with contempt? — at the fools who thought they might get token notice after Huffington cashed in big.

For someone who claims to “make a living by writing”, Mike sure doesn’t have any sympathy with others who’d like to get money from writing, now does he?

Yet again, Mike is totally legalistic, not a hint of sympathy with the writers on their moral basis of hoping to get a couple crumbs thrown to them for doing work.

As already noted, so too will the re-writers here get nothing if Mike is ever able to cash in.

What’s the most awesome term ever for adverse publicity?
And why is it the most awesome term ever? Cause Mike “Streisand Effect” Masnick sez so!)

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Knew Mike would have to jeer at the writers.

They already got their ‘crumbs’. They were able to post their work from free – that is significantly less than it would have cost them without a service that offered up a server, bandwidth, software, management of the hardware and software, etc.

I was joking with my comment earlier about getting paid when TechDirt sells out to Amazon (just speculating there), but you really are expecting some money if that happens, aren’t you?

Gracey says:

Re: Knew Mike would have to jeer at the writers.

Oh get a grip. I was not born into any sort of “riches”, but I totally agree with the whining and silly aspects of this.

Just because these bloggers can’t deal with the fact that they agreed to the terms when they signed up isn’t HuffPo’s fault, nor should the courts have to deal with it wasting tax payers time and money.

They aren’t now and never were entitled to any share of the profits of the site they wrote for, particularly when they agreed to blog for free.

OMG … talk about entitlement issues.

Colin (user link) says:

Knew Mike would have to jeer at the writers.

For someone who claims to “make a living by writing”, Mike sure doesn’t have any sympathy with others who’d like to get money from writing, now does he?

If they want to get money from writing, maybe they should stop volunteering for stuff that doesn’t pay for writing? Or parlay the crazy amount of exposure they’ve gotten into a paying gig? But that’s actual work, why not just sue instead!

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