Do unpaid bloggers deserve a piece of the HuffPo pie?

The Globe and Mail

Ever since the Huffington Post was bought by AOL for $315 million, bloggers who contributed to the site gratis have been complaining that they deserved a chunk of change from the sale.

Take, for instance, this Tweet from HuffPo contributor Andy Borowitz in February, following news of the sale: "My share of the Huffington Post sale, zero dollars, was a little disappointing."

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But HuffPo's volunteer bloggers are no longer resting with just being disappointed. Instead, they filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday, seeking $105-million in damages, according to the Washington Post.

In an interview with the newspaper, lead plaintiff Jonathan Tasini said the Huffington Post was engaging in breach of contract because of an "implied promise" of compensation, although he did not provide further details.

Tasini, a union organizer who began contributing to the site in 2005, also told the newspaper that the suit would accuse HuffPo of "unjust enrichment," since, in his opinion, the site gained its value from all the work of contributors.

"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 spokesperson for the Huffington Post told the Washington Post that they could not comment on the specifics of the law suit, because they had not yet received it, but did say that any such suit would be "completely baseless."

Why?

"Our bloggers utilize our platform to connect and ensure that their ideas and views are seen by as many people as possible. It's the same reason hundreds of people go on TV shows-to broadcast their views to as wide an audience as possible."

Do you think volunteer contributors to the site deserve a piece of the pie?