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Huffington Post does not have to pay $105 million to unpaid disgruntled bloggers

Editorial director of the French version of the Huffington Post's news website Anne Sinclair, right, and co-founder of
Editorial director of the French version of the Huffington Post's news website Anne Sinclair, right, and co-founder of "the Huffington Post" Arianna Huffington, left, chat as they give a press conference for the launch of the website, in Paris, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012.
Thibault Camus/AP

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a class-action lawsuit Friday that claimed that the Huffington Post unjustly profited from their work. The bloggers wanted a piece of the $315 million purchase price that AOL paid for the popular blog.

U.S. District Judge John Koeltl agreed with AOL's lawyers that the bloggers were never promised any money for writing for the site, and they gained exposure with the opportunity to write for a large audience.

"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," Koeltl said in his opinion. "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."

Former San Jose Mercury News tech columnist Dan Gillmor agreed with the judge via Twitter, however added, "but HuffPost policy still crummy."

When the suit was original filed in April of last year, the Huffington Post sent out a terse statement claiming innocence. 

"The lawsuit is wholly without merit. As we’ve said before, our bloggers use our platform — as well as other unpaid group blogs across the web — to connect and help their work be seen by as many people as possible. It’s the same reason people go on TV shows: to promote their views and ideas. HuffPost bloggers can cross-post their work on other sites, including their own. Aside from our group blog, to which thousands of people from around the world contribute, we operate a journalistic enterprise with hundreds of paid staff editors, writers, and reporters," the HuffPo wrote.

The suit was filed by Jonathan Tasini, a blogger and union leader, who wrote for the Huffington Post between 2005 through February 2011. Tasini told the Associated Press that he and his legal team are looking for a way to appeal the decision. He was seeking $105 million in damages.

"This judgment removes any question about the merits of this case and we look forward to continuing the mutually beneficial relationship we share with our growing roster of interesting, dedicated and engaging bloggers," Rhoads Alderson, the Huffington Post Comminications Director said in a statement today.

This isn't the first time Tasini has sued a large media outlet. In 2001 he and several others successfully sued the New York Times for $18 million over how freelancers were paid. That case bears his name.