Journalist Jonathan Tasini plans on filing a class action lawsuit against Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington and AOL compensation for hundreds of unpaid contributors to the online publication. According to the Washington Post Tasini seeks $105 million.
Tasini, in an interview, said HuffPost was engaging in breach of contract with its contributors because of an “implied promise” of compensation. “Some people were given some promises about future payments,” he said, declining to provide specifics.
He said his suit will also allege that HuffPost’s owners, including Huffington herself, engaged in “unjust enrichment” by building a business on uncompensated labor and by accepting AOL’s buyout offer. “AOL would not have paid $315 million without the value [unpaid writers] created,” he said. “Arianna Huffington believes she and only she should pocket the money for the value created.”
A Huffington Post representative retorts that writers use the high traffic website to “connect and ensure that their ideas and views are seen by as many people as possible.”
UPDATE: It seems this legal case has legs only if the plaintif can show that Huffpost has made overtures that bloggers might someday be paid. Matt Bors has posted emails he’s received telling him that a paid class of bloggers was the vision and another email stating that they have no budget to pay bloggers.