Bloggers will now think twice before agreeing to work for free on a high-profile site for the supposed exposure. In the closely watched class action lawsuit "Tasini v. AOL" U. S. District Judge John Koeltl tossed the case.
BLOOMBERG reports that in his opinion, Koeltl wrote:
"No one forced the plaintiffs to give their work to the Huffington Post for publication and the plaintiffs admit that they did not expect compensation."
In the blogosphere it is rare that toiling in the vineyards for free, much like those serial internships in glamour industries, gets anyone anywhere. A low wage is better than no wage. For example, Ana Marie Cox headed the "Wonkette" for the then wildly popular site GAWKER. That was when blogging was just taking off in the beginning of the 21st century. She received $10 a post and had to produce 10 posts a day about what was going on in Washington D.C. Through that she gained access to plum jobs ranging from TIME to GQ. Had she worked for free that probably wouldn't have happened.
In the class action suits against law schools for allegedly misrepresented job data, it could all come down to Buyer Beware. 1 suit has already been tossed in New York. In any future blogger or intern suits where there was an agreement to work for free in exchange for exposure, learning the business, and opportunity to network, the rulings might come down to the fundamentals of contract law.