A group of Huffington Post bloggers, led by union organizer and journalist Jonathan Tasini are planning to file suit against the AOL-Huffington Post demanding they be paid for their volunteer writing, according to Jeff Bercovici at Forbes.
It seems like a thin case at first blush, since unlike AOL freelancers, there was never any expectation at HuffPo of being paid, unless you were one of the high profile scribes Arianna poached for her stable of in-house journalists.
But Tasini has been down this road before. He won $18 million from the New York Times in a dispute over licensing the work of freelance journalists for inclusion on databases like Lexis-Nexis.
The ongoing debate–yawn–is about whether the audience the Huffington Post provides counts as payment in this attention economy. Lots of writers jump at the opportunity to work for Arianna, free of charge, believing the exposure will pay dividends.
The sudden purchase by AOL and the massive windfall for Arianna may change how bloggers feel about working for free, but its hard to see a legal case for why it should change the nature of their contract.