Blogging for free is like writing Open Source software

As some of you may already know there’s a class action lawsuit against Arianna Huffington and AOL underway, filed by a group of HuffPost bloggers who think they’re owed up to $100 million for the money that Mrs Huffington made after selling the Huffington Post to AOL.

The merits and basis of the case are shaky at best but it’s an interesting situation nonetheless.

In any case, I liked how GigaOm compared writing Open Source software with blogging for free, and I think that it’s a relevant comparison, even if not perfect.

The analogy with writing for outlets like Huffington Post isn’t perfect, but it has a lot of similarities. As founder Arianna Huffington noted in her response to the Tasini lawsuit, writers for the site maintain the rights to their content; in other words, they can post it wherever they like, and make money from it in other ways if they wish. The site also doesn’t collect money from those who read this freely-submitted content, although it does make money from the ads that run alongside the content.

In a similar way, there are companies such as MySQL — which was acquired by Sun Microsystems for $1 billion in 2008 — that are corporate entities, even though much of what they sell is based on open-source software. Red Hat has built a billion-dollar business on support and other services related to open-source software. One could argue that The Huffington Post does something similar: it produces its own content, but it also aggregates and distributes free content, and that is a value-added service.

And there will always be people who are willing to write for free — whether they are doing it on their own blogs, for Wikipedia, or for a site like The Huffington Post — just as there will always be people who are willing to create open-source software. Would it nice if everyone could get paid a handsome salary for everything they do? Sure. But one of the strengths of the web is that it allows other methods of compensation to flourish, and the HuffPo is just another example of that in action.

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One Response to Blogging for free is like writing Open Source software

  1. Pingback: Blogging for free is like writing Open Source software … | Open Hacking

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