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Blogging Unlikely to Lead to Millions

By Robyn Hagan Cain on December 14, 2012 3:01 PM

There are good reasons to become a blogger. You like making sassy comments. You have a pipe dream of building an Internet following that will lead to a book deal. You generally enjoy writing.

But you don't go into blogging for the money. Especially not for a piece of a $315 million pie. Seriously. You might have a better shot at winning the Powerball than making it big as a blogger.

This week, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals shut down five Huffington Post bloggers in their quest to sue AOL for blogging riches.

Though Huffington Post generates revenue through advertising, it never paid -- or promised to pay -- the plaintiffs for their submissions. Still, when AOL purchased Huffington Post for $315 million in 2011, these bloggers decided that their content created about $105 million of that value, and sued to get out what they had put in.

The plaintiffs alleged two causes of action: unjust enrichment, and deceptive business practice. A federal judge dismissed the case with prejudice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).

The unjust enrichment argument is easily the more amusing of the two. Let's discuss it.

The plaintiffs basically argued that they were hoodwinked into providing free work for HuffPo based on the representation that they would be providing a public service, instead of working for "Big Media." They claim that they wouldn't have provided their work had they known that the site would use their writing for commercial gain rather than solely liberal causes.

The problem with the complaint? The plaintiffs never alleged that Huffington Post claimed their work was purely for public service, or that the site wouldn't be sold to another company.

While the Second Circuit noted that it was "no doubt a great disappointment to find that The Huffington Post did not live up to the ideals plaintiffs ascribed to it," the court concluded that the blogger's allegations didn't support a case for restitution, Thomson Reuters News & Insight reports.

If you're looking for a path to untold snark, blogging might be for you. If you're looking to pay off student loans, you should probably stick to lawyering.

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