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AOL hit by class action lawsuit

The Huffington Post, which was recently acquired by AOL has been targeted by a group of bloggers who claim that it mistreats those who enrich it with content.

Jonathan Tasini, a noted freelance journalist it leading the proposed class action lawsuit which was filed yesterday in a New York Federal court. The lawsuit comes after AOL took over the site last month for a whopping $315 million. Bloggers are unhappy as they feel that some of the cash should have filtered down to them because of long term volunteer writing during the sites huge growth period.

Tasini is leading a group of fellow writers in legal action which claims ‘mistreatment’ by co-defendant and founder Arianna Huffington. The legal terms for the complaint are based on allegations of ‘deceptive business practices’.

Jonathan Tasini: leading a class action lawsuit

Huffington has long maintained that her bloggers gain exposure through their affiliation with the site and have said that if they aren’t happy they could take the writings elsewhere. The plaintiffs are alleging that the Huffington Post ‘jealously guards’ the amount of page views that a blogger such as Tasini receives and the amount of revenue generated by the blog posts. The claims say that the site has unjustly enriched itself by misleading its contributors.

The complaint says “If it were not for the labor of Plaintiff and the thousands of unpaid Class members on and for TheHuffingtonPost.com … (the site) would not have been an attractive merger target and would have sold for at least $105 million less than the merger price of $315 million.”

Tasini has been noted before as the lead plaintiff in a landmark class action suit against the New York Times and others involving freelancers digital rights. This dispute ended up at the U.S Supreme Court which handed out a verdict that publications must get express written consent over digital rights from freelancers.

Tasini claims to have produced 216 pieces of content, without compensation.

The Huffington Post have issued a statement saying that the class action is ‘completely baseless’.

KitGuru says: Tasini has plenty of experience with this, so it will be interesting to see if some level of compensation is awarded.

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