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Anti-Spam Lawyer Loses Appeal, and His Possessions 237

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the know-when-to-fold dept.
Techdirt is reporting that one particularly rabid anti-spam fighter has not only lost his case, but most of his worldly possessions as well. James Gordon tried to set himself up as an ISP to get around the conventions of the CAN SPAM act in order to set up a litigation house designed to sue companies that spam. Unfortunately a judge did not take kindly to this trick and ordered him to pay $110,000 to the firm he was suing, a decision that was not only upheld on appeal but accompanied by some very unkind words trying to shut down litigation mills like his. "But, perhaps even more fascinating is that the guy, James Gordon, didn't just lose the lawsuit, it appears he lost most of his possessions as well. Remember that ruling telling him to pay the $110k to Virtumundo? He refused. The company sent the debt to a collections agency, but told Gordon they'd call off the collections agency if he dropped the appeal. Gordon didn't."
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Anti-Spam Lawyer Loses Appeal, and His Possessions

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  • Morton's Fork (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) * on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:23PM (#29179049) Homepage Journal

    I'm not sure who to be cheering for on this one: the barrator or the spammer. Who should we revile more? Dante reserved the fifth pouch of the Eighth Circle of Hell for barrators, but he says nothing at all about spammers.

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      Spammer's are level 10 vile which is why nothing was said....

    • Re:Morton's Fork (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) * on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:03PM (#29179451) Journal

      Revile the legislators who caved to the direct marketing lobby and took away your right to sue those leeches.

    • Re:Morton's Fork (Score:5, Insightful)

      by whoever57 (658626) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:05PM (#29179471) Journal

      I'm not sure who to be cheering for on this one: the barrator or the spammer. Who should we revile more?

      I can answer the question on whom we should revile more: the politicians who passed anti-spam laws that effectively protect the spammers.

      • Re:Morton's Fork (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday August 25, 2009 @06:19AM (#29184055) Journal
        Well, at least they were honest this time. It's not like naming a law that violates the spirit that created the USA something like USA PATRIOT, or hid it behind a buzzword-filled title like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The CAN SPAM act does exactly what the name implies; it means that you can spam as much as you like.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      Despite the jokes and such, lawyers are not universally evil. Only about 98% of them are. There are a few out there who do good work. This lawyer's work looks like it was an attempt to do good (and perhaps profit off of it, but that's OK if it means hurting spammers). If some lawyers could find other ways of improving society and profiting highly in the process, I'm all for it. There's plenty of possible targets: corrupt politicians, Microsoft, social services abusers, etc. Don't forget, there's lawye

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by MadnessASAP (1052274)

        It's actually the other way around, 98% of lawyers ARE decent people. 2% are dirty evil rats who want to screw everyone as hard as they can, we just hear about them more because guess which type of lawyer most big litigation happy corporations are interested in hiring.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Grishnakh (216268)

          I completely disagree. The entire adversarial legal system rewards people who have no ethics, and it's a field where sociopaths can excel, so the smart ones are drawn to it. I'm sure, once they figure out how to do a brain scan that conclusively proves someone is a sociopath, they could grab 1000 lawyers, and 1000 regular citizens, and find a far higher number of lawyers that are sociopaths. I don't know about 98%, but I'm sure the number of evil lawyers is much higher than your 2%.

          We don't even hear abo

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by darkmeridian (119044)

            We don't hear about good lawyers ever. Instead, we have to put up with bullshit posts like yours that don't even make sense. You say that district attorneys are evil. You also said that criminal defense lawyers are slimy. I guess you think the only decent people in the criminal justice system are the criminals. I know your retort already: the system punishes people for minor crimes like marijuana possession. Well, you're also siding with the child molesters and rapists. SOMEONE has to put them away, and SOM

            • Re:Morton's Fork (Score:4, Insightful)

              by chaboud (231590) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:58PM (#29181583) Homepage Journal

              We could have a legal system not so mired in procedure that it makes it next to impossible for the layman to defend himself, and this system has been perpetually perverted by those blurring the line between zealous adversarial representation and inhuman chicanery.

              At this point, yes, we need lawyers, but, in my experience, I haven't found 90% of lawyers to be either good or evil. Maybe 10% are strongly either way. The rest are just like us, lazy, tired, mildly manipulative, and so busy doing the job that they've lost sight of any greater meaning of the work. The next time your doctor gives you Flonase instead of a chest x-ray because they'd rather turf you than fight with your HMO? Yeah.. same thing.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Machtyn (759119)
              I'm sure the New York Country Lawyer [slashdot.org] would disagree that "we don't hear about good lawyers ever."
          • Re:Morton's Fork (Score:5, Insightful)

            by m.ducharme (1082683) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:53PM (#29181529)

            How many lawyers do you personally know? I'm curious. I am currently working as a summer student at a law firm, and before that I worked as a clerk at an Insurance Defence firm, and when I go to school in the fall, all my teachers will be lawyers. So I'd say, guessing roughly, that I've met and talked to maybe 30-50 real, live, practicing or teaching lawyers (some practice as well as teach), and I have to tell you, out of all of them, there's only one that I suspect is possibly a sociopath. The rest are hard-working, honest people with varying degrees of ethical awareness, mostly fairly developed senses of ethical awareness. They take legal aid cases because their clients can't afford representation, or they mount Charter challenges to challenge overzealous cops or bad laws, they draw up wills, guide clients through divorces, and do the paperwork for your house sale. They teach business law, commercial law, and yes, ethics. Only a small portion do what you think of as "unethical" lawyering, and most of those know that there is ethical value in the work they do, and they care about that value, a great deal.

            I think you don't understand the ethics of lawyering very well. The lawyers who chase ambulances are also the lawyers who keep corporations from completely neglecting quality control, and who keep insurance companies paying out settlements. Also, you mentioned criminal lawyers who defend clients that they know are guilty. You look at this and you see a lawyer who's protecting a criminal from being punished, and you think the lawyer is a slimeball. But that lawyer understands that when you have an adversarial system, every single person accused of a crime deserves a vigorous defence. Good criminal lawyers keep prosecutors honest, and they protect people from the much greater power of the state. If someone is guilty of a crime, but they get off because the prosecutor didn't build a good case, or because the cops roughed the guy up too much down at the station, then next time, the cops will know not to beat the shit out of prisoners, and prosecutors will know to do a good job instead of a sloppy mess of a prosecution.

            As for the DA who prosecutes showy cases to help him at election time: well I'm a Canadian and I can't get over that you people in the US elect your prosecutors (and judges, for that matter). That seems wrong to me. You elect your government officials, as you should, a democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other forms; but there's room in the system for unelected professionals whose job is to protect people from the tyrrany of the majority, and lawyers, prosecutors and judges can fill that role well. But whatever, that's the system you have chosen for yourselves, and it works best when "slimeball" criminal attorneys can go all-out for their clients. It doesn't look pretty, but for the most part it works, and the people who make up the system know that what looks unethical to most people may be necessary to preserve the best parts of the system.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              A better system is one in which there is no adversarial process. You might want to look into it: it's called French Civil Law, and it's practiced in just about every country on the Earth which wasn't a British colony.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by m.ducharme (1082683)

                Civil law systems aren't necessarily better than common law systems, just different. And the point is moot, because civil law systems are evolving to incorporate features of the common law, and common law systems are evolving to to incorporate features of the civil law.

                Also, you should be more careful with your distinctions. The opposite of the adversarial system is the inquisitorial system, which can exist in either the civil or common law. Inquisitorial systems have problems of their own as well.

                Civil law

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm definitely not an enviro-nazi, but has anybody read any reports on the amount of carbon spam produces? It may be 0's and 1's, but it still requires electricity. Try telling the current environmental that spam will ruin the planet and see how soon you get legislation enacted.
      • Sure, spam is 97% of email, but email's a small fraction of the bits on the Internet, most of which is the web. It doesn't consume anywhere near the resources of Youtube.
        If you're in the mail-handling business, it's one of your largest problems, along with storage, reliability, etc. and burns most of your internet bits, but if you're in the general ISP bits, the spam's still not much of your bandwidth compared to the regular web traffic.

        What spam really consumes is the attention span of its recipients, and

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          most of which is the web

          Last statistics I saw showed that peer-to-peer file distribution services used over 50% of the Internet bandwidth. That doesn't tell the whole story, however. Something like a bittorrent client or a web server or client uses a tiny amount of CPU power per byte of data transferred compared to a spam filter. One of the big advantages of OpenBSD's spamd is that it's got a very lower overhead per message, so it makes a good first line of defence. Even then, moderately large sites need a powerful machine or

  • by whoever57 (658626) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:29PM (#29179115) Journal
    If he had some kind of limited-liability entity that sued, he might have been able to protect his own possessions, just like the patent trolls do by setting up a subsidiary for each group of patents.
  • by lalena (1221394) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:34PM (#29179165) Homepage

    the appeals court came down even harder on the guy for clearly abusing the law, pointing out that he was clearly a professional litigant, and not someone running a real ISP

    The spammers are violating the law by spamming. Is protecting your right to not receive spam abusing the law? Is there something illegal about being a professional litigant? I thought we called them lawyers.

    • There are too many powerful companies involved in spamming (aka online marketing.) There was no way a judge was going to make it easier on the average joe. Instead we all have to pay for people wasting bandwidth with their crappy advertising and making us sit there deleting emails every day.
      • by sloth jr (88200)
        Do you honestly think that's it's the legitimate companies that're the problem? Look through your junk folder on gmail, and you tell me how many of those represent legitimate companies involved in online marketing.

        I empathize with the pain you describe, but place the blame where due - on the stupidity of those that actually respond to the spam, or the shady fly-by-night viagra and penis pump outfits, or botnet operators. (there will always be idiots in legit companies who are just trying to make it, and

    • by techno-vampire (666512) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:01PM (#29179443) Homepage
      The spammers are violating the law by spamming. Is protecting your right to not receive spam abusing the law?

      It can be. Going against people with no regard for the law doesn't give you permission to ignore or misuse the law yourself.

      • This makes no sense.

        Cops do *exactly* that all the time - setting-up nonexistent businesses in order to catch criminals. They do it with prostitution rings to catch johns, fake child pron chats to catch sex offenders, pretend drug deals to catch users, and so on. This judgment means one of two things:

        - Lawyers can not entrap people, but cops can, even if their actions are in violation of the law.
        -or-
        - Cops are forbidden from setting-up a fake ISP to "sting" spammers. Won't that make enforcement of CANSPA

        • Entrapment is in the eye of the beholder, and while a police officer who has gotten proper warrants, or who is working on reasonable actionable knowledge will get a very different response from a judge than a private citizen who is just laying traps.

          Of course, there's the question of the spirit of the law. If you really believe that this guy was setting up the "booby trap" ISP in order to help end the scourge of spam, then the outcome seems harsh. However, if you deem--as the judge apparently did--that
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Grishnakh (216268)

            Of course, there's the question of the spirit of the law. If you really believe that this guy was setting up the "booby trap" ISP in order to help end the scourge of spam, then the outcome seems harsh. However, if you deem--as the judge apparently did--that he's just in it to make profit and that the people that he entrapped were being sucked into arbitrary litigation, then the outcome will seem quite appropriate.

            I'm sorry, but it's exactly the same. If a lawyer can figure out how to use the courts to end

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Despite the name, entrapment doesn't have to do with being tricked, it has to do with being forced to do something you wouldn't otherwise have done. It's not "I wouldn't have done it if I'd known it was a trap" but "I wouldn't have done it if they didn't have a gun to my head".

          One difference that I could see with a cop catching a spammer this way is that the money, if any, wouldn't be going into somebody's pocket.

          But let's be honest for a second...policeman routinely act as if they are above the law. People

    • Standing (Score:4, Informative)

      by Estanislao Martínez (203477) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:51PM (#29179927) Homepage

      The spammers are violating the law by spamming.

      For the court to be able to act on this assumption, it needs to make a finding of fact to that effect. Before such a finding of fact can be made, other aspects of the complaint must be evaluated. For example, the plaintiff needs to actually be entitled to pursue the complaint they are making.

      So basically, in this case, the law says that to pursue a case against a spammer, the plaintiff must be an ISP. Before the court can decide whether the party being accused is actually spamming, it must determine whether the plaintiff is an ISP. The plaintiff failed that requirement, according to the court, case closed.

      This may sound annoying to you in this one case, but really, this needs to be the case, in order for the legal system to throw out bad cases quickly. Read up on standing [wikipedia.org].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DragonWriter (970822)

      Is protecting your right to not receive spam abusing the law? Is there something illegal about being a professional litigant? I thought we called them lawyers.

      No. A litigant is (in the context used here) a party to a lawsuit, not the attorney representing them.

  • idiot thinks they can apply "well technically" tricks in the legal system and gets smacked down by judges.

    Who would have thunk it?

  • by Dusty101 (765661) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:35PM (#29179175)

    He'll be fine. Bruce Wayne will bail him out.

  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:38PM (#29179203) Homepage

    Reading the decision, it is clear that the appeals court was biased.

    On the issue of the Washington law preemption, the Court referred to the complaint regarding subject lines and from lines as being "vanity domain names" that were not deceptive. The use of From lines of "Free IPOD" or "Free 50 inch Plasma TV" is deceptive. Just because, after opening the e-mail, and doing whois lookups, that you can determine that it is from Virtumundo, does not mean that the from is deceptive.

    The appeals court refused to rule who is an IAS, but said that a well known IAS (ie. Hotmail) does not have to show harm from spam because it is obvious, but a little guy does. The Court went further and said that harm under can-spam can't be the ordinary business expense of carrying e-mail, but one can argue that any mail provider must filter spam and carry spam, therefore there can never be harm from spam, illegal or legal. Any good IAS must provide extra capacity so that if there is spam, they will not crash.

    Do you feel sorry for the professional spammers that get harmed by the professional anti-spam litigation service? Of course, if Virtumundo itself in the from line, their spam would have been deleted by most filters.

    • How are they biased? You do not seem to have proven any specific bias.

      The Court may have come to what you consider an incorrect decision; that is not bias. The Court may have come to a decision found ultimately to be incorrect on appeal: that is not bias, either.

      Bias requires a specific partiality to one party or another, and you have not even mentioned any sort of bias here.

    • Reading the decision, it is clear that the appeals court was biased.

      Uuum, that would be a physically inevitable fact, because it's made of humans, living in a reality in which everything (even time) is relative, with senses that filter everything a thousand times, and a brain that processes things based on past experiences.

      What you meant, is that they did not have a bias that was compatible to yours.
      I happen to myself have a bias that is (in this things) compatible to yours, so I am able to agree on your actual criticism.

      But I hope you can now make better statements about t

    • by lalena (1221394) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:45PM (#29179845) Homepage
      14 years ago I purchased a .com for my last name. I was able to get myFirstName@myLastName.com as my email address. How cool is that. Then the spam started (before good filtering). I was getting 1-2 GB of spam a day. My email file (BSD Unix) was open for write 24/7. I could never connect with my email client to download any emails. I'm not even sure if good filtering would have done any good. My hosting company couldn't figure out how to close the email account without closing the my user account (same name) that ran the web site. I basically had to telnet in and VI the file several times a week to delete everything to keep under my account's disk space quota. Also realize that domains still cost $70/year and hosting wasn't cheap back then either.
      Spam can really cost someone money even if they aren't an ISP. I eventually had to change hosting companies just to kill that email address. To this day I can't use that address. Even with modern email filters, enough crap would get through to make it not worth using. I'm now using a gmail account.
      • Even if you setup gmail for your domain and pointed the MX record directly to google's servers?
      • My hosting company couldn't figure out how to close the email account without closing the my user account (same name)

        The magic incantation to tech support is "Alias it to /dev/null". If that hint doesn't turn the light on, you need a new hosting company.

    • by Arker (91948)

      A violent miscarriage of justice and an assault on everyone that uses email.

      Which reminds me, anyone know the judges email address? I'm guessing he's a dinosaur that cant use email though - profit motive or no, I have a hard time believing anyone that actually uses it would make such an idiotic decision.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:39PM (#29179217) Homepage

    The anti-spam-fax law allows for individuals to sue for damages and so many people have set up fax lines and started collecting faxes and collecting money. I don't know if that is still going on or not, but I heard some people made it a full-time living.

    The CAN SPAM act is another problem in that individuals are not allowed to sue. The ISPs are the ones who are eligible for that. This part of the law needs to change. While allowing individuals to sue might be a bit too much for some litigation-happy individuals to resist, I think it might be fair enough to allow domain holders and mail hosts to sue under the CAN SPAM act. I say this because I own three domains and would be happy to file a legal action or two except for the fact that the amount of spam I receive is pretty low at the moment... and by low, I mean one or two every two or three days. (Thank you greylisting! Say that "it won't work" all you like, but the results speak differently.)

    Should setting up shop in order to take advantage of a law against spamming be allowed? HELL YES it should! The opposite is certainly true and acceptable -- for business to have laws written to their advantage. Is the a provision in the CAN SPAM act that says you can't do this? Is there any law, federal or state, that says you can't do this? The bottom line is that someone set up a "honey net" for profit via the judicial system. Perhaps its the perceived abuse of the judicial system that is the issue?

    • Should setting up shop in order to take advantage of a law against spamming be allowed? HELL YES it should!

      I agree. And, if Mr. Gordon had actually set up shop as a mom-and-pop ISP he probably would have gotten away with it. Alas, he forgot that if he wants to be taken for a duck, calling himself a duck isn't enough; he has to waddle like a duck and quack like a duck, neither of which he did.

      • by flonker (526111) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:24PM (#29179661)

        I wonder if a "real" ISP would be able to partner with a spam-fighter to allow them to fight the good fight. I'm sure within half a dozen phone calls, you'd fine one that was willing to lend you their name. I'd suggest looking at the list of registered ISPs at the Copyright office - http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/list/index.html [copyright.gov] as they're likely to have all of the other bases covered already.

        • I wonder if a "real" ISP would be able to partner with a spam-fighter to allow them to fight the good fight.

          Why not? Just hire the spam fighter as a consultant to "look into" the problem of spam and to both suggest and implement policies designed to reduce the company's spam-load.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Theaetetus (590071)

      Should setting up shop in order to take advantage of a law against spamming be allowed? HELL YES it should! The opposite is certainly true and acceptable -- for business to have laws written to their advantage. Is the a provision in the CAN SPAM act that says you can't do this? Is there any law, federal or state, that says you can't do this? The bottom line is that someone set up a "honey net" for profit via the judicial system. Perhaps its the perceived abuse of the judicial system that is the issue?

      Well, either that or the fraudulent court filings where the guy claimed he was an ISP, but he wasn't. If you seek to use a "honey net" in the judicial system, you have to make sure you're acting completely above board.

      The CAN SPAM act is another problem in that individuals are not allowed to sue. The ISPs are the ones who are eligible for that. This part of the law needs to change. While allowing individuals to sue might be a bit too much for some litigation-happy individuals to resist, I think it might be fair enough to allow domain holders and mail hosts to sue under the CAN SPAM act.

      Also, this is an interesting thing I'd like to point out. You're in favor of suing spammers, but are opposed to litigation-happy individuals doing it, because... we'd have to read about all those spammers facing trials on Slashdot? Seriously, why? It seems, from your reference to "litigation-h

      • by erroneus (253617)

        I have mixed feelings on the whole thing. And frankly, if it weren't for the fact that I'm not getting that much spam I'd probably be trying the same sort of thing... if it were allowed and I'm not entirely sure that's not the case.

        But we know that "he should lose because he's a troll" doesn't usually win the argument. We see this with patent, copyright and trademark trolls all the time. Perhaps it would have helped if the plaintiff filed in a certain East Texas court...

      • Also, this is an interesting thing I'd like to point out. You're in favor of suing spammers, but are opposed to litigation-happy individuals doing it, because... we'd have to read about all those spammers facing trials on Slashdot? Seriously, why? It seems, from your reference to "litigation-happy individuals" and suggestion that it be limited to people in your situation, your primary complaint is that some people might make money for their time and efforts suing spammers, and that those people aren't you. This is a bit disingenuous.

        The reason I would be reluctant to allow individuals to sue spammers is because of all the people who would try to bring a suit for email they signed up for and forgot about (sometimes they might not even have realized they were signing up for it). I'm not entirely sure that would be a bad thing, but we should try more carefully targeted approaches first to see if they work before flooding our courts with this sort of thing.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833)

      Should setting up shop in order to take advantage of a law against spamming be allowed? HELL YES it should!

      Maybe so, but CAN-SPAM makes specific provisions for who can sue and who can't sue.

      Is the a provision in the CAN SPAM act that says you can't do this?

      Yes, it says that only "Internet access providers" are allowed to sue for damages, and that they need to illustrate that the damages are the result of the spam and not simply the cost of normal network operation.

      Is there any law, federal or state, that says you can't do this?

      Many states set up their own anti-spam laws after CAN-SPAM (which CAN-SPAM was specifically trying to preempt), the judge in this case ruled that CAN-SPAM does in fact preempt the Washington State laws that Gordon was

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SetupWeasel (54062)

      You know what? Spam doesn't affect my life. I don't care to sue a spammer any more than I care to sue a homeless man on the subway or the chinese restaurant that slips a menu under my door. It shocks me that this is such a big deal. If everyone ignored it, it would go away.

      • by evilviper (135110)

        You know what? Spam doesn't affect my life.

        Phishing is one small step away from spam. Just as soon as you give your bank account details to a spammer, you can bet it will affect your life...

        And don't try to rant about how everyone should be smarter than that... The differences between a real and fake website are minuscule, and even the most knowledgeable can let their guard down for just a moment in some routine activity, and get scammed.

    • by nmb3000 (741169)

      Thank you greylisting! Say that "it won't work" all you like, but the results speak differently.

      I don't think anyone says that greylisting doesn't work because it does. The problem is that it's not a good idea for most email users. There are far too many (poorly configured) mail servers out there that will not attempt a second delivery -- mostly automated systems such as Delta's itinerary mailer, various online retailers, etc. Sure, you could reject their messages out of principle, but that doesn't work i

      • by Zey (592528)

        I don't think anyone says that greylisting doesn't work because it does. The problem is that it's not a good idea for most email users. There are far too many (poorly configured) mail servers out there that will not attempt a second delivery -- mostly automated systems such as Delta's itinerary mailer, various online retailers, etc. Sure, you could reject their messages out of principle, but that doesn't work in the real world where people expect email delivery to be 100% error-free.

        The very few mail doma

    • by sjames (1099)

      There is a certain symmetry in getting rid of spammers by subjecting them to a zillion junk suits by people out to make a quick buck.

      The unfortunate part is there would probably be too many mailing lists sued by the same idiots that click the report spam button on AOL rather than unsubscribing from the email they opted in to and confirmed. Or would sue their bank, or whatever unfortunate person gets the Joe job that day.

  • Spammers vs Litigators = Alien vs Predator

    Who ever wins, we lose!

  • Wait, why 'haha'? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by improfane (855034) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:42PM (#29179253) Journal

    Wait, why is this tagged 'haha'?

    If I understood the summary properly, an anti-spammer's life is being ruined by a spammer?

    What the hell? Surely this is a bad thing! Coincidentally, virtumondo is a very nasty piece of Windows adware/spyware too!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      it's labeled haha because a ton of slashdotters are asshole malcontents who laugh anytime anyone but themselves get the screws. there is a paradox in wanting to rip off the man and wanting what is morally correct at the same time and it leads to a lot of gray areas. not that gray areas are bad but some people who don't fit in anywhere else find a nice cozy home in the gray areas because it allows for cynicism and hypocrisy to co-exist without having to explain yourself.

      this is the same reason goosestepping
    • by jjohnson (62583) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:31PM (#29179743) Homepage

      Because, like a patent troll, Gordon wasn't trying to eliminate spam, he was trying to profit off laws against spam that might allow him to sue--a professional litigant. There's two ./ hot buttons here: spam and abusing the courts. It's a tale of a bunch of shitty people being shitty each other, and we're the one's footing the bill for the judge who has to oversee it all, and the courtroom and clerks they're using.

      Not many ./ers are capable of understanding that sometimes bad people (Gordon) do good things (fight spam) for the wrong reasons (personal profit) at a cost to us all (tying up the court system). It's 'haha' because someone who thought he was gaming the system got busted.

      • Thank you for explaining that. I have mod points but cannot mod you up obviously. Your sig is so true, too.

        98% of lawyers make the other 2% look bad?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jjohnson (62583)

          I actually worked with lawyers a couple jobs ago, and found them to be very likable people in general. They're very pragmatic, they tend to have thick skins, and have a very healthy scepticism about everything. And for the vast majority of them, it's simply a job that interests them, not a vocation that consumes them. They're usually the ultimate realists, and don't kid themselves about what they're doing.

          So I'd reverse your ratio there, and say 2% of the lawyers make the other 98% look bad. You just do

      • Re:Wait, why 'haha'? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by pclminion (145572) on Monday August 24, 2009 @08:30PM (#29180289)

        Because, like a patent troll, Gordon wasn't trying to eliminate spam, he was trying to profit off laws against spam that might allow him to sue--a professional litigant.

        Why do I give a shit if the man profits from it? Good for him. You sound like one of those guys on the freeway who lets nobody merge just because you don't want anybody to get ahead of you. I was not aware that it was a race or competition.

        sometimes bad people (Gordon) do good things (fight spam) for the wrong reasons (personal profit) at a cost to us all (tying up the court system)

        How is this tying up the court system? I suppose you'd prefer if everybody sued individually, multiplying the case load by thousands of times? I really am not following this logic.

      • Because, like a patent troll, Gordon wasn't trying to eliminate spam, he was trying to profit off laws against spam that might allow him to sue--a professional litigant.

        "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing at a profit."

        Why shouldn't somebody doing a public service get rewarded for it? ... we're the one's footing the bill for the judge who has to oversee it all, and the courtroom and clerks they're using.

        Actually, the payer of the "court costs" is footing the bill. That's what court costs are about.

        Not ma

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Khashishi (775369)

        How do you know what Gordon's motives were? I bet he wants more than anything to eliminate spam. You label him a professional litigant, but he's got some serious integrity for a shitty person. I can't believe that standing up against the courts was a calculated decision to maximize personal profit. How does he profit from not settling with an evil party? It's civil disobedience. When the laws are broken, good people will break the laws.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by xaboo (1599655)
        You are assuming he was trying to game the system. Gordon had numerous opportunities not to loose his personal possessions. Yet, he choose to loose them and continue fighting SPAM. That tells me that he values his contribution towards anti-spam over his personal belongings. As for the spam companies he was fighting...well I hope they enjoy those stinky old couches, used underwear, and pictures of dear old grand ma ma! They obviously are in it for the money. Bravo for Gordon, he didn't let a bunch of tyr
      • by iamhassi (659463)
        " like a patent troll, Gordon wasn't trying to eliminate spam, he was trying to profit off laws against spam that might allow him to sue--a professional litigant."

        whoa whoa, comparing him to a patent troll is going a bit far. He's the good guy trying to stop the spammers, where trolls are trying to make a quick buck off of inventing nothing and by patenting the obvious to steal money from real creators. If anything the spammer is the patent troll and he's the legit company.

        I say anyone fighting spam
    • by westlake (615356)

      f I understood the summary properly, an anti-spammer's life is being ruined by a spammer?

      Try reading more than the summary:

      When Virtumundo's collections lawyer showed up at Gordon's house with a moving van and a sheriff, Virtumundo again offered to stop its pursuit of Gordon's assets if he would drop his appeal, and he refused again, according to Newman.
      Virtumundo's collections agency then cleared out Gordon's house, according to Newman.
      He added that after seizing the contents of Gordon's home, Virtumundo

  • How ironic (Score:3, Funny)

    by JamJam (785046) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:43PM (#29179269)
    Having lost nearly all his worldly possessions James Gordon, rabid anti-spam fighter, managed to keep his prized can-opener for the cans of spam he will be dining on... nom nom non
  • Opportunistic lawyer or spam company? Wait... I'm having an idea! Let's lock them in a room with some bricks and declare the one who makes it out the winner! No matter who loses, we're sure to win!
  • by Dr_Art (937436) on Monday August 24, 2009 @07:13PM (#29179553) Journal
    Why don't the MPAA/RIAA (MAFIAA) get the same treatment as this lawyer? Of course, this is a rhetorical question...
  • According to TFA, the spammer offered three times (at judgment, at collection, and after seizure) to drop the judgment or return the possessions if the anti-spammer would drop his appeal.

    If I understand the law correctly, by doing so the spammer committed extortion.

    IANAL. Could somebody who IAL comment please?

    • by Sabriel (134364)
      IANAL. I thought extortion involved threatening to make it worse for someone if they don't hand over their stuff, not offering to let them keep it (what the court granted you permission to take) if they'll stop trying to make it worse for you...
    • by BlueStrat (756137)

      According to TFA, the spammer offered three times (at judgment, at collection, and after seizure) to drop the judgment or return the possessions if the anti-spammer would drop his appeal.

      If I understand the law correctly, by doing so the spammer committed extortion.

      IANAL. Could somebody who IAL comment please?

      IANAL

      However, as I understand it, that general type of situation being legally considered "extortion" typically only applies if the "extort-er" is some normal everyday person or small business, and the

  • Litigation just isn't going to work--politicians are too weakminded to actually write laws that will stop these social parasites, even if we could reliably identify spammers. Vigilante justice is a shame, but it's not like the government really has any moral high ground anymore.

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