Blogger, author and former political candidate Jonathan Tasini filed a class action lawsuit (PDF link) against Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post and AOL. The suit includes an estimated 9,000 bloggers and seeks damages of “an amount to be determined at trial but not less than $105 million.”
He explained on his blog: “We live in a time of unrelenting class warfare. We are the richest nation on earth—yet that wealth is flowing into the hands of the few … The Huffington Post was, is and will never be, anything without the thousands of people who create the content. Ms. Huffington is acting like every Robber Baron CEO—from Lloyd Blankfein to the Waltons—who believes that they, and only they, should pocket huge riches, while the rest of the peons struggle to survive. ”
Tasini (pictured, via) had blogged for the network since 2005, but his unpaid work ended on February 10th with this post. Earlier in his career, Tasini sued the New York Times over freelance pay. Most recently, he published the book, The Audacity of Greed: Free Markets, Corporate Thieves, and the Looting of America.
Here’s more about his NY Times lawsuit, from his biography: “He was the lead plaintiff in Tasini vs. The New York Times, the landmark electronic rights case that took on the unauthorized use of workers by thousands of freelance authors in the electronic age. In a historic decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2001 that media companies had illegally used the works of writers without their permission. That precedent lead to a series of class action lawsuits (in which Jonathan served as a principle strategist and negotiator) which lead to a mass settlement for authors in 2005 and the creation of an $18 million fund to compensate writers.”
Forbes broke the news this morning. We will update this post as the story evolves.
Last month the Newspaper Guild called on unpaid Huffington Post writers to strike. In addition, the Guild Freelancers launched a Facebook page called “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?” last month. (Via Sarah Weinman)