Blog writer files class action against Huffington Post for failure to pay for content contributed to blog

Posted on: May 2nd, 2011 by Steve Larson

A class action lawsuit has been filed against The Huffington, which is now owned by AOL Inc.  This appears to be a cutting edge case, as the complaint states that it seeks to address the important issues of (a) whether in the digital age, profitable digital media sites should be required to compensate the creators of valuable content from which such sites derive substantial revenue, and (b) if so, how the creators of content should be compensated.  AOL, Arianna Huffington and Kenneth Lerer are also named as defendants in the case filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (entitled Jonathan Tasini v., Inc., et al. Case No. 11-CV- 2472).

The complaint alleges that certain writers and other content providers and contributors to the have been wrongly denied compensation for the value they created for the Huffington Post.  AOL recently acquired the Huffington Post for $315 million.  The complaint alleges that the value of the content provided by the class was at least $105 million.

The class action lawsuit is brought on behalf of two putative classes (a class seeking injunctive relief, and a class seeking damages.)  It includes current and former unpaid content providers to residing in the United States and Canada who did not receive and continue not to receive any compensation related thereto.

The named plaintiff, Mr. Tasini, has been a successful litigant regarding electronic rights in the past.  He was the lead plaintiff in Tasini v. New York Times, the electronic rights case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which addressed the scope of copyrights belonging to freelance writers.  The complaint alleges that Mr. Tasini is a prolific and well known author, who the Huffington Post recruited to post articles on its website.  He posted over 250 articles.

The complaint alleges claims for deceptive business practices under New York law and unjust enrichment.

For more information on the class action lawsuit complaint, read the complaint at this link.