Do bloggers deserve to be paid for providing fresh content?
A major court case between a group of writers and The Huffington Post came to an end last week, but the result is not looking good for the online blogging community.
The Huffington Post was bought by AOL in 2011 for US$315 million – a sale that triggered an outcry amongst some bloggers who provided the website with fresh content free of charge.
In response, Sydney-based writer and activist Jonathan Tasini led a lawsuit against the American website, demanding that a significant portion of the sale be allocated to compensate unpaid bloggers.
According to Mr Tasini and his lawyers, approximately 9,000 writers provide original content for the media giant without receiving a cent for their work.
However judge John Koeltl of the United States District Court dismissed the case, claiming that since the bloggers were never promised payment they do not have any grounds to demand it.
"No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to The Huffington Post for publication and the plaintiffs candidly admit that they did not expect compensation," Mr Koeltl said on March 30.
The decision has not stopped Mr Tasini from continuing his battle against the online paper.
"We're using the lawsuit to spark a movement and an organising effort among bloggers to set a standard for the future because this idea that all individual creators should work for free is like a cancer spreading through every media property on the globe," he told The Australian on April 2.
Mr Tasini also said that it is possible he will appeal the decision.
In the meantime, bloggers should be careful about submitting their work for free if they desire payment.
"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," Mr Koeltl added.