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Journalists Sue A-Po-L

April 12, 2011

Everyone wants compensation for their work, and a few disgruntled journalists are suing Huffington Post and AOL over it. Citing that Huffington retains information that should belong to freelance bloggers, specifically pageviews, they are suing the newly joined organization.

A particularly amusing line to me is the one in which the plaintiffs claim that HuffPo would have sold for “at least $105 million less” without the content contributed by the plaintiffs. How they came to that number is not explained, and sounds like guesswork at best. Had there not been freelance content, chances are the Huffington Post would have never become the sensation that it has, not even close.

The freelancers may run into trouble, however, if they’re asked to explain why they joined the site. As far as I know, it’s pretty clear where HuffPo stands when it comes to compensation. You get to be published on their site, and that’s good enough. Writers join the site understanding these terms, and Huffington has been pretty clear that if you disagree, you’re welcome to leave. As far as I know, she has no obligation to release anything to her freelancers. We’ll have to see what happens, but based on my limited media legal understanding, the freelancers may not get very far without proving some sort of breach in contract.

Not exactly unbiased, but Arianna seems to agree with me that there’s not much legal grounds underneath this suit.

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