For a Few Dollars More

Class Action Against Crowdsourcing

Something is brewing in the world of digital labour. In October 2012, online worker Christopher Otey filed a class action lawsuit against the US based company CrowdFlower, one of the largest platforms for the completion of so called ‘micro-tasks’. The company claims to have a reserve army of millions of workers and according to its CEO Lukas Biewald, they hire up to 10.000 people per hour and up to 3 years of work per day 1 The pending lawsuit is now challenging the companies failure to pay the minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act to its US workforce and Christopher Otey’s lawyers are searching the web for other underpaid members of the online crowd who want to join the class action. CrowdFlower’s lawyers point out, however, that Christopher Otey did his work completely voluntarily and that he and all the other ‘cloud-workers’ are not employees but free contractors. The case is still open, but it has the potential to shake the foundations of a business model that has been mushrooming around the globe over the last five years.

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Notes:

  1. Biewald, Lukas. Lukas Biewald of CrowdFlower on TWiST #154 Bonus. YouTube video, 22 June 2011.