Monday, April 2, 2012

No Rule-Changing Mid-game: Judge Says Unpaid HuffPo Writers Will Stay That Way

Jonathan Tasini speaking at a campaign fundrai...Jonathan Tasini . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge John Koeltl ruled last Friday  in Jonathan Tasini v. America Online, Inc. (Case No. 1:11-cv-02472-JGK) that just because The Huffington Post hit the mother lode when Internet Service Provider AOL acquired the news aggregator for $315 million (see "TUOL" post 2/7/11), uncompensated HuffPo writers were not entitled to payment after the fact.

Authors Molly Secours and Jonathan Tasini were among writers whose work appeared on the Web site of The Huffington Post, which was founded in 2005. As reported by the New York Law Journal and The Wall St. Journal Law Blog, the plaintiffs sued for upward of $105 million, alleging they were deceived by Arianna Huffington into writing for the site gratis in exchange for the exposure that appearing on the popular site purportedly would generate.

In granting the defendant's motion to dismiss, Judge Koeltl said the plaintiffs, many of whom are professional journalists, knew they weren't getting paid for having their work published on the HuffPo site.  "No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to The Huffington Post for publication," Judge Koeltl wrote, "and the plaintiffs candidly admit that they did not expect compensation. The principles of equity and good conscience do not justify giving the plaintiffs a piece of the purchase price when they never expected to be paid; repeatedly agreed to the same bargain and went into the arrangement with eyes wide open."

The plaintiffs advanced both an implied-in-law contract argument to prevent unjust enrichment to AOL, and alleged the defendant's purported deceptive conduct violated New York General Business Law sec. 349.  The case brought by the unpaid contributors was dismissed with prejudice by the Court.
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment