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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

Arianna Update: Class Act(ion)

Journalist and union organizer Jonathan Tasini, who was also a HuffPo blogger for five years, has filed a class action lawsuit against Arianna Huffington and Huffington post for $105 million — a third of the value of the sale of HuffPo to AOL. Jeff Bercovici, writing for Forbes, has a couple of great pieces up on the lawsuit here and here.

Also, here’s a copy of the filed complaint if you like to read things written in legalese.

The interesting angle in this lawsuit, which may just give them a legal leg to stand on, is that the filing is based on common law, not contract law — which makes the fact that the bloggers agreed to write for free irrelevant to the case (at least, according to the attorneys for the plaintiff — we’ll see what a judge thinks once all the arguments have been heard).

What it boils down to is that the case alleges that Huffington Post built something of value on the backs of unpaid labor, and that the labor that contributed to that has a fair expectation of compensation now that it’s been sold for a ton of money.

In other words, basically what a lot of HuffPo bloggers have been arguing since the sale, but now a class-action suit’s been filed making exactly that allegation.

Tasini, by the way, was previously the lead plaintiff in the landmark 2001 case New York Times Co. vs Tasini, which dealt with newspapers re-using the work of freelancers for inclusion in electronic databases without additional compensation.

The plaintiffs won that case. We’ll see how things go with this one. It’s good to see the HuffPo bloggers have Tasini in their corner, though, and I expect it’s at least a bit of a relief for those who have been frustrated by Arianna’s refusal to offer any compensation to her corps of unpaid labor to at least have the suit filed so they’ll get their day in court.

One Response to “Arianna Update: Class Act(ion)”


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“The thought is interrupted by an odd interlude. We are speaking in the side room of Casita, a swish and fairly busy Italian bistro in Aoyama – a district of Tokyo usually so replete with celebrities that they spark minimal fuss. Kojima’s fame, however, exceeds normal limits and adoring staff have worked out who their guest is. He stops mid-sentence and points up towards the speakers, delighted. The soft jazz that had been playing discreetly across the restaurant’s dark, hardwood interior has suddenly been replaced with the theme music from some of Kojima’s hit games. Harry Gregson-Williams’ music is sublime in its context but ‘Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots’ is not, Kojima acknowledges, terribly restauranty. He pauses, adjusting a pair of large, blue-framed glasses of his own design, and returns to the way in which games have not only influenced films, but have also changed the way in which people watch them. “There are stories being told [in cinema] that my generation may find surprising but which the gamer generation doesn’t find weird at all,” he says.
~ Hideo Kojima

“They’re still talking about the ‘cathedral of cinema,’ the ‘communal experience,’ blah blah. The experiences I’ve had recently in the theatre have not been good. There’s commercials, noise, cellphones. I was watching Colette at the Varsity, and halfway through red flashes came up at the bottom of the frame. A woman came out and said, ‘We’re going to have to reboot, so take fifteen minutes and come back.’ Then they rebooted it from the beginning, and she had to ask the audience to tell her how far to go. You tell me, is that a great experience? I generally don’t watch movies in a cinema at all. Netflix is the future. It’s the present. But the whole paradigm of a series, binge-watching, it’s quite different. My first reaction is that it’s more novelistic, because if you have an eight-hour season, you can get into complex, intricate things. You can let it breathe and the audience expectations are such that they will let you, where before they wouldn’t have the patience. I think only the surface has been touched with experimenting with that.”
~ David Cronenberg