Virtual picket line
When America Online bought the online publication the Huffington Post for $315 million, a lot of its (mostly unpaid) contributors thought "hang on".
As the US National Writers Union, which represents freelances, put it back in February, "AOL buys huffpo - can you spell B-A-C-K-P-A-Y?"
A possibly very significant move followed on 16 March, when the US Newspaper Guild, which represents only staff journalists, joined in the call for an oh-no-this-is-not-a-strike, Your Honor.
13 April 2011
A group of the bloggers is suing Arianna Huffington and America Online for $105 million, reckoning their unpaid work generated about a third of the value of the site.
Prominent among those launching the "class action" on behalf of 9000 contributors is Jonathan Tasini - lead plaintiff against the New York Times in a case that led to a settlement offer for a net $11 million.
A note of caution, though: Tasini -v- Times has been to the US Supreme Court twice since 1995 and the settlement is still not settled, with some objectors saying it's not nearly enough.
Those objectors' latest move is to point out to the courts the similarities between the Tasini settlement and the Google Books settlement, rejected on 22 March.