By now, most Huffington Post readers are aware of the class-action lawsuit that former Huffpost blogger Jonathan Tasini has filed against AOL/Huffington Post and co-founders Arianna Huffington and Ken Lerer, accusing them of "unjust enrichment and deceptive business practices."
Mr. Tasini's complaint alleges that The Huffington Post and Ms. Huffington have made a killing from the hard work of writers who posted works on the site. Of course, the suit follows the sale of The Huffington Post to AOL for $315 million; apparently, the news that The Huffington Post was profitable a couple years ago wasn't enough to get Mr. Tasini's attention.
Over the past few years, Mr. Tasini willingly submitted over 200 works to The Huffington Post, but he acts as if Arianna Huffington is a predator lurking in the alley by using words like "lured" in his complaint.
Despite some legalese buried in the complaint acknowledging that The Huffington Post never promised payment and in fact explicitly tells its bloggers that they won't receive compensation for their contributions, Mr. Tasini acts as if he were tricked to post on a site -- over 200 times! -- that was clear in its terms.
Did Mr. Tasini not notice the plethora of banner ads when he was posting his works? Or perhaps he missed the news -- hard to miss -- that The Huffington Post finally reached profitability in 2010? Perhaps he also missed the countless stories about The Huffington Post seeking new venture capital funding in 2008.
But this is about more than filing a frivolous lawsuit. Time magazine's choice for person of the year in 2006 was "you," in recognition of the millions of people who had generated content, videos, blogs, on the internet. Time's choice brilliantly captured how the internet has changed over the past ten years and has given people the freedom to communicate with anyone, at anytime, on a global level.
Mr. Tasini may think that by filing his suit he is carrying some progressive banner (in his obnoxious rant about Huffington he says he's going to make sure that the entire progressive community stops posting on her site), but he's doing just the opposite. He is not attacking AOL, The Huffington Post, or Ms. Huffington -- he is attacking the most important revolution we've had in the way we communicate in centuries. What is next? Will all profit-centered websites stop taking user-generated content for fear that they too will be sued?
Should my sister stop posting videos of my niece on YouTube because she's not being paid? Should I stop posting my Facebook status messages because Mark Zuckerberg is a billionaire?
Whenever a news story makes mention of The Huffington Post's bloggers, the word "controversial" is often attached. I simply don't understand why people who willingly log on to the site and post a blog are depicted as minions to Arianna. When does personal responsibility kick in?
This is my first piece for The Huffington Post. Neither Ms. Huffington nor her staff made the request that I write or post this. I woke up this morning, read about the suit, and decided to write.
I could have posted a blog at any point since my account was established. But I never have. Mr. Tasini had the same freedom.
I wrote this post because in his rant before filing his suit against AOL/Huffington Post, he said that anyone who writes for the Huffington Post will be considered a "scab." That's funny Mr. Tasini -- I don't remember signing a card joining your union, and I don't think you organized the 9,000 bloggers who have Huffington Post accounts.
Don't come after us because you can't seem to get your act together.
In this case, I am proud to be a scab.
Full Disclosure: In 2005, I contributed $1,000 towards Arianna Huffington's gubernatorial campaign debt retirement.
Follow Yashar Hedayat on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yasharh