The New York Times tells us that a class-action lawsuit against the Huffington Post on “behalf of” unpaid bloggers for the Huffington Post raises “significant unsettled questions about the rights of writers in the digital age and….”
Bloggers for Huffington Post who do not wish to give away their work should not give it away. Was anyone ever compelling them to do so? The question about whether persons who voluntarily give their work away have the rights of persons who contract to exchange their work for pay is “unsettled” only in the sense that there are always people who will take somebody with deep pockets to court regardless of the facts of the case. Thugs in various guises are always roaming about looking for ways to loot the wealth of others, so in that sense anybody’s property rights are always “unsettled.”
On the Internet, there are two kinds of web sites to which writers can submit their work: a) paying and b) non-paying. Whether a non-paying publication should become a paying market if and when it seems to have sufficient resources to begin doing so is not self-evident. But if so, persuasion and market competition are the only means anyone should employ to encourage the change. Writers and especially un-established writers have always been notoriously more willing than mechanics and bus drivers to give away their ways in exchange for the face time. How is this situation the fault of the Huffington Post?
The story illustrates, once again, the absurdity and rapaciousness of such baseless “class action” suits, brought to fill the pockets of unscrupulous attorneys and those who enlist their services. The persons bringing the suit obviously don’t “represent” the class of all Huffington Post bloggers who do not believe in suing for payments to which they were never entitled and which they never required in exchange for their work.