There's something uniquely American about our response to an enormously lucrative business transaction: invariably, someone sues for a piece of the pie. In the case of AOL recently acquiring The Huffington Post for a whopping $315 million, one of HuffPo's bloggers decided that he deserves some of that action.
Quite a bit of it, in fact: he's suing for $105 million.
Why does this writer feel he's owed a third of the business deal? Well, because he was an unpaid contributor to the website for years, and apparently prior to the AOL buyout, he never realized HuffPo was making money from the writers' content.
An estimated 9,000 unpaid contributors have helped The Huffington Post become what it is today, and there's never been any confusion about what kind of deal they were entering into. Even though HuffPo has turned a profit for years—they were grossing between $12 million and $16 million annually as of 2009—the non-staff site bloggers have worked solely for the exposure and opportunity to reach a wider audience.
Is this a setup that equally rewards the bloggers and the site's owners? NO. DUH. That's how it works. You either accept that and hope that your articles land you something better, or you decide not to be part of it. Agreeing to contribute to a highly profitable website for zero dollars pretty much eliminates your right to be outraged when the site makes an even bigger profit.
Jonathon Tasini, the blogger filing the class-action lawsuit, contends that without his labor and the contributions of others, HuffPo wouldn't be as successful, nor would have been as an attractive of a merger target.
Again: DUHHHHH. The guy wrote 216 articles between December 5, 2005 and February 10, 2011—for no money. No one forced him to do this, despite his hilariously insane claim that HuffPo bloggers are "essentially turned into modern-day slaves."
Here's a tip, Jonathon: next time, treat a blogging gig like a job. Ask to be paid what you're worth. And if you're worth nothing, you're probably not worth $105 million.
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