Libertarian law professor Richard Epstein, writing at Ricochet.com about the class-action lawsuit by unpaid Huffington Post bloggers seeking compensation retroactively for their work now that the site has been sold to AOL for hundreds of millions of dollars:
what do we have here? A group of highly intelligent bloggers all of whom have made the decision that they prefer the exposure that the HuffPo affords them to payment from some lesser outfit. There is no way that a common law theory of restitution can override those voluntary choices. The authors have decided that the nonpecuniary benefits outweigh any prospect of financial gain. The tragedy is that busybodies like Tasini are so imperious that they cannot let sensible people make their own choices. This suit should be tossed out on its ear.
I'm not sure I agree with Professor Epstein's assessment that the Huffington Post bloggers are "highly intelligent," nor with the attendant implication — which my guess is Professor Epstein would disavow — that there should be some sort of different level of legal scrutiny applied to contracts signed by highly intelligent people as opposed to those signed by just medium intelligent people or people whose intelligence is of a mediocre or even below average level. Some people who are highly intelligent about some things, such as their creative work, are not so intelligent when it comes to their signing contracts governing the intellectual property rights to their work. I do agree with Professor Epstein on the appropriate disposition of the lawsuit, however. Now, a government minimum wage enforcement action would be another matter...not because I am big believer in minimum wages or in government interference in relations between employees and employers (or between employers and contractors, or between employers and volunteers) but just because there is a certain poetic justice in seeing prominent and self-righteous left-wingers caught up in the consequences of policies they profess to support.
If the New York Times were worth any money, the unpaid writers of its letters to the editor would be assembling a class action lawsuit of their own. Not to mention the book-buyers whose collective purchases make possible the Times's weekly bestseller list.