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Daou, Boyce to Sue Over HuffPo's Birth

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, November 16 2010

So who dreamt up the Huffington Post? Arianna Huffington has said that that she and a few friends, including eventually HuffPo partner Ken Lerer, gathered in her house and kicked around ideas in those heady days after the 2004 election when blogging's might on the left seemed to only be growing larger, and from that the Huffington Post was born.

Not so, say Peter Daou and James Boyce. They're claiming that they were instrumental in the constructing the idea that would turn into the site, and, reports Politico's Ben Smith, they're now filing suit against Huffington and Lerer on the grounds that the latter pair took the idea and unfairly ran with it, without them:

The real birth of Huffington Post, they allege, was the next day, December 4. That morning, Daou, Boyce, Huffington, and Lerer met again at Huffington’s house and discussed the plan in more detail, according to the complaint. Daou and Boyce allege that the framework for the site had been described in a memorandum Boyce had given Huffington the previous month, which outlined a political website on which “political luminaries and public figures should be invited to blog.”

“At the conclusion of the December 4 meeting, Peter, James, Huffington, and Lerer all shook hands and Huffington stated, ‘It will be great to work together,’” the complaint says.

Of course, central to all this is the question of just how unique an idea the Huffington Post model really is. After all, it doesn't take a genius to say, 'Hey, you should start a group blog!' But the Huffington Post is more than that, and has been since the beginning. When it launched, its model of inviting in scores of 'big names' to blog about politics (for free) and then coupling that with curation, aggregation, and some original reporting -- not to mention Arianna's prowess at pushing herself and her products out there -- was something that the world of online politics really hadn't seen yet. It was so untested that many folks thought it was, in fact, a terrible idea, an indulgence headed for failure. Daou and Boyce claim that they're the ones who really kinda came up with the new concept.

If there were two people pushing for liberals to use the web to push out a message, it wouldn't be surprising that it would be Daou and Boyce. Both worked on the Kerry '04 campaign, with Daou leading his online program. Daou latter did the same duty for Hillary Clinton's '08 campaign. And as a techPresident tie-in, Daou is also the author of a seminal 2005 piece on the history of online politics on a concept refered to as the "Daou Triangle" about the nature interaction of the blogging world, the political world, and the press that we house here on techPres.