A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Fair Labor Standards Act

Nobody is Getting Paid for Unpaid Blogging

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By Russell Smith

Nearly one-third of the content on the Huffington Post (or HuffPo, as its users call it) comes from thousands of bloggers contribute stories without pay. So when it was announced that HuffPo would be sold to AOL for $315 million, the Internet exploded with anger and betrayal from HuffPo’s contributors and stalwart fans alike.

Many bloggers, like the Guardian’s Douglas Rushkoff, complained that Arianna Huffington sold out progressives who were only contributing to the site for free because of its liberal spirit. One of these contributors, infuriated that Ms. Huffington “built a blog-empire on the backs of thousands of citizen journalists,” started a twitter meme, #huffpuff, asking bloggers to remove their content from the new AOL/HuffPo conglomerate and boycott the site in the future. Still others, like Dan Gillmor at Mediactive, suggested that Ms. Huffington share the wealth with the unpaid bloggers who helped create it.

On April 12 it was announced that a group of bloggers were backing up their blogosphere bravado by launching a class action against HuffPo, seeking compensation for their work to the tune of $105 million dollars (one-third of the site’s sale price). News of the lawsuit launched an Internet firestorm of its own, the consensus of which is best illustrated by this quote from Hamilton Nolan’s story in Gawker:

“We’re not lawyers, but we’re fairly certain that a group of people that freely and without coercion agrees to write for free cannot simply run to court years later and ask for a hundred million dollars just  because they think they deserve it for blogging so well.”

LASIS looked into the law and it looks like the media guessed this one right. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Here’s why. (more…)

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