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Spam Government The Courts News

Virginia Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Spam Law 255

Skater writes "The Washington Post is reporting that the Virginia Supreme Court has struck down the anti-spam law that was used to convict spammer Jeremy James, on the grounds that the ability to be anonymous was more important than the problem of spam. Strangely, the same court only a few months ago upheld the law. 'The court noted that "were the 'Federalist Papers' just being published today via e-mail, that transmission by Publius would violate the [current Virginia] statute." The court suggested that the law does not limit its restrictions on spam to commercial or fraudulent e-mail, or to unprotected speech such as pornography or defamation. And when the state suggested that the court merely tailor a restriction to the law within its opinion, the court declined.'"
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Virginia Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Spam Law

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  • Clueless judges (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <jmorris@BLUEbeau.org minus berry> on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:34PM (#24983097)

    If 'Publius' spammed my inbox with the Federalist Papers I'd want the asshole's account yanked as much as the latest grow yer tool spam. Spam is unsolicited broadcast mail, period. Zero tolerance.

    The correct way to publish would be for Hamilton & friends to open a blog under the Publius pseudonym.

    • Re:Clueless judges (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:41PM (#24983195)

      Well if the courts gave a law that made it illegal for you to send an email anonymously it would probably have just as many slashdotters saying how it is a violation of our rights. Sometimes to protect your rights you need to deal with people who abuse them.

      • by beakerMeep ( 716990 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:59PM (#24983381)
        So what's the difference between sending a whistle blower email anonymously to a reporter and saying "H1! my f3llow 3recti1e dy5funcktion Fr@nds!" to your 100,000 of your closest personal buddies?

        lipstick.
        • There isn't much difference. If you don't want to receive e-mail, don't.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fugue ( 4373 )

          What is wrong with us, as a society? The difference is obvious, and yet we can't figure out how to write it down. Let lawyers try, and the language defines its own loopholes with words like "substantially identical", "more than 1000", "for commercial gain", "possible interest to the recipient", etc. There's really very little question about what is spam, but there is much question about what is reasonable for a court to decide. Our lawyers need to grow up and stop being such babies about interpreting th

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by ribit ( 952003 )

            I think the supreme court is the grown-up one in all of this... They just told the lawmakers to start writing laws with more care.. this is a good thing.

            • by Firehed ( 942385 )

              Yes. The problem is that in order to avoid potential ambiguity in laws, they need to be written in unreadable legalese. That certainly requires a lot of care (those age-old debates about having used a semicolon instead of a comma, etc).

              So, say there's a simple law on the books: "Sending spam is illegal." Then you have to define spam, legally. It's easy enough to do, but damn near impossible to do without also including legitimate communications under the umbrella term. Maybe "a business sending out mes

          • Our lawyers need to grow up and stop being such babies about interpreting the letter of the law, but that has its own problems.

            Yeah, minor problems like being able to clearly know what is legal or not.

      • Re:Clueless judges (Score:4, Insightful)

        by The Cisco Kid ( 31490 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @04:00PM (#24983391)

        You have the right to send a message anonymously, so long as *you* bear all the costs associated with its transmission and receipt. Since there is a cost in terms of time to review, that pretty much covers sending anonymously to private individuals. The media, your representatives, and perhaps even law enforcement, might be expected to accept anonymous messages - but not by email, generally.

        If you send me an email, the mailserver at my end *WILL* record the IP address of the server it gets it from (right in the message headers), and unless your email providers server is horribly misconfigured, it will have already recorded either your PC's IP address, or in some cases some other information that can be used to identify who controlled the Internet access account that was used to send it. (Or, misconfigured servers that *dont* record that information, are generally placed on blocklists and my server wont accept any email from them)

        You want to send anonymously - put your message on paper in an envelope, pay the proper postage, and mail it.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ribit ( 952003 )

          Why should snail mail be the only method for anonymous messages?

          • Why should snail mail be the only method for anonymous messages?

            Why do you believe that it is the only method?

            You can nail it to a telephone pole.

            You can print it and leave it at bus stops.

            People have even nailed things to church doors.

            What is it about this subject that makes people turn off their brains?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by PachmanP ( 881352 )
            Well it would give CowboyNeal something to do and improve the quality of AC posts. I mean if you had to actually mail it in and someone had to physically type it in, there might be slightly less ascii goatses.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PunkOfLinux ( 870955 )

      This is such a logical problem. It wouldn't be published by e-mail, you're right. Not only that, this is a pathetic appeal, trying to get patriotic support for SPAM. What the fuck.

    • I'd agree, but lately, those in power have viewed my constitutionally protected rights with as much disdain as they do spam.
  • Bad analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:35PM (#24983107)

    If Publius sent the Federalist Papers via email to hundreds of thousands of people, it would BE spam. The Federalist papers were items that people VOLUNTARILY sought out - they weren't shoved into everyones mailboxes and under their door thresholds. If they were, they would have been ignored and thrown away just like junk mail is today.

    Political freedom of expression is protected; what isn't protected is having ANYTHING shoved down my throat using my own resources.

    • Re:Bad analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VeNoM0619 ( 1058216 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:55PM (#24983327)
      You walk through the street, someone shoves a petition in your face. Do you lock them up as well?

      As much as we hate it, there is no fine line of liberties... we may be a "free" country, but not entirely free.

      We try to define "freedom until you harm others", but seeing how much more of babies we've become (with less violence, wars, etc.), we see minor things "cause us (mental) harm" and try to justify that.

      I hate spam just as much as anyone else, but they should have the freedom to send me it, since I am not physically harmed.

      Oh and for those "give us your e-mail then!" people, its my username at hotmail. Good luck cause I last checked it a week ago, the 2nd to last time I checked was 6 months ago.

      Just funny, cause back in the day, all drugs were legal, cause you weren't physically harming someone (stabbing etc.). Now it's justified with "you might harm someone if you abuse it" so they removed it entirely to prevent the chance for abuse. I'm not for or against drugs - just an example of how freedom is a slippery slope that can never be truly solved.
      • Your freedom ends when you impose on me without my permission. I don't think "harm" needs to be reached for your freedom to end.

        People who send me spam, have done so without my consent, and they are causing me undo effort as a result.

        I think a better analogy would be someone trespassing on your lawn and running around your house insisting you (sign petition/hear about candidate X/order viagra).
      • Re:Bad analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

        by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @04:11PM (#24983537)

        If someone is holding out a piece of paper for me to take, I can say "no thanks"

        If someone is shoving that piece of paper in my pocket, and doing the same to THOUSANDS of others simultaneously, he would be arrested for assault.

        That's the problem - there IS no "real world" analogy that fits properly. The problem, in this case, is that handbilling is an even poorer analogy than most. Junk mail would be a better analogy, except for the fact that the costs are paid by the mailers, not the recipient. Probably the best analogy would be telemarketing calls to cellphones, where the user pays for a call that they don't want. Oh, wait - that's ILLEGAL.

        And don't say that it doesn't cost the recipient anything. I pay for my connection, and that money goes to a number of different people to pay for bandwith, among other things. If spam were gone, bandwidth needs would lessen and my rates would decrease. So I AM paying for spam, just not directly.

        • The emails, I don't mind, so long as the spammer induces a cost for them, and pays it himself. It's when they hire a botnet, or start installing illegal software on people's computers without their consent, that I object. And spammers should be jailed for THAT. Not for exercising speech or being anonymous.
        • Junk mail would be a better analogy, except for the fact that the costs are paid by the mailers, not the recipient.

          The only reason junk mail isn't analogous is because there is a reasonable amount required to send it. On my end, there is a cost to getting rid of it, but due to it being limited by the cost of sending, my cost of getting rid of it is low enough to not matter (to me).

          If junk mail was free to create/send (or close enough to free to not matter) and I received 11,000 pieces each day (my spam av

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That's the problem - there IS no "real world" analogy that fits properly.

          Sure there is: door to door solicitation. For someone to come up to your door to sell you something, they have to enter on to your property, and waste your time talking to you. And society has deemed this to be acceptable. The onus is on you, the person who does not want solicitors at all, to make his wishes known, whether in response to a particular solicitor ("Go away") or to all solicitors in advance (e.g. a "no solicitors" sign, wh

    • The Federalist papers were items that people VOLUNTARILY sought out - they weren't shoved into everyones mailboxes and under their door thresholds.

      [CITATION NEEDED]

      The federalist papers were originally published in three New York newspapers, then later paublished in other local papers, eventually across the Western World. If someone purchased the newspaper for a different purpose, that person still got 'spammed' with the Federalist Papers in their newspaper. While the analogy is tenuous, receiving unsoli

    • Political freedom of expression is protected; what isn't protected is having ANYTHING shoved down my throat using my own resources.

      In that sense it's spam when a politician knocks on your door, but that's never going to be illegal. (So get rich and buy a gate and dog.)

      This particular legal ruling is saying a law can't make it illegal to *be anonymous* by using a fictitious internet identity ("publius.com").

      Maybe a better crafted law could still protect you from most spam in the way that we don't have as mu

    • It get worse (Score:3, Insightful)

      they weren't shoved into everyones mailboxes and under their door thresholds. If they were, they would have been ignored and thrown away just like junk mail is today

      Even if they were, they'd just be tossed on the hearth, but the cost would be largely borne by the Federalists.

      You have a right to stand on the sidewalk in front of my house saying whatever you want. You don't have a right to come onto my porch, use my paper and pen, and start writing whatever you want under the guise of 'Free Speech', you're c

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:36PM (#24983131)

    Agee noted that in order to send an anonymous e-mail, the sender must "enter a false IP address or domain name."

    No. That is wrong. You can be anonymous without spoofing IP addresses or faking domain names.

    And "the right to engage in anonymous speech, particularly anonymous political or religious speech, is 'an aspect of the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment," Agee wrote, citing a 1995 U.S. Supreme Court opinion.

    Correct your usage of "anonymous" first and then I might agree with you.

    The court noted that "were the 'Federalist Papers' just being published today via e-mail, that transmission by Publius would violate the [current Virginia] statute."

    Bullshit. You still don't understand "anonymous".

  • Bravo. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spazdor ( 902907 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:36PM (#24983133)

    And here we get to a fundamental question about what we want the Net to be. The court was entirely right to balk at deciding this for us.

    We can have the right to communicate anonymously over the Net. Or we can have the right not to be contacted by anonymous people. We can't have both.

    • Wrong. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by khasim ( 1285 )

      We can have the right to communicate anonymously over the Net. Or we can have the right not to be contacted by anonymous people. We can't have both.

      What part of that concerns sending a million unsolicited \/1agr4 messages?

      In your world, is it considered okay to use hire a dozen people with bullhorns to spew political rhetoric around someone's house at midnight?

      No?

      OMG! They're taking away FReedom of SPEech!!!111

      No one said that he could not publish whatever he wants.

      The problem is his DELIVERY of it to peopl

      • by spazdor ( 902907 )

        But for people to express in any legally rigorous way that they DO want it, they have to know in advance about its existence, which is something an anonymous party just can't get without contacting some people who might not want to hear from him. ...to hire a dozen people with bullhorns to spew political rhetoric around someone's house at midnight?

        No, but the trivial real-space rules take care of that scenario nicely. Zoning and noise regulations are enough to keep their activities to daylight hours, and it

        • But for people to express in any legally rigorous way that they DO want it, they have to know in advance about its existence

          That doesn't mean that they have a RIGHT to get it to me, once or one hundred times. Just because it's awfully inconvenient for them to get their message out if restricted to channels where people are complicit in receiving those messages, doesn't mean they should be granted some right to hoist their message on people who haven't asked for it.

        • "Volume" as in "number of messages".

          Which gets back to my other post. It's not "anonymous" when it is "fraudulent". We can protect anonymity but we should be punishing fraud.

          If you're sending email to a spamtrap, it's spam.

          If you're sending email to a dozen or so individuals who you have PERSONALLY selected based upon some criteria other than you have their email address, then it is probably allowable under "anonymous".

          100,000 messages ... fake domains ... spoofed IP addresses ... I don't care what you're s

      • How did you get those Viagra messages? Your email provider delivered them to you. If you don't like what they're delivering to you, find one that is better at filtering spam.

        Market victory ensues.
        • by spazdor ( 902907 )

          You're got the right approach to this issue; If you want it to be hard for anonymous parties to get in touch with you, there are lots of good ways to make that happen.

          If instead you want it to be hard for people who are selling stuff to contact you, but easy for people who just want to talk you into a date, then you face a technical challenge, and not even an insoluble one.

          • Who are these people picking up complete strangers who don't even know their age or sex online? Simply tell them to put a special codeword in the email and have your provider whitelist that word.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SL Baur ( 19540 )

        is it considered okay to use hire a dozen people with bullhorns to spew political rhetoric around someone's house at midnight?

        s/at midnight/before dawn/

        Yes, that's standard political campaigning where I live.

        The problem is his DELIVERY of it to people who do NOT want it.

        No. That is as misguided a statement as the law that was struck down. The problem is economic - the economics of email, where all the costs are borne by the recipient, are broken and encourage spamming.

        I get a lot of email I do NOT want that is not spam.

        I have a big problem with geographics-based laws being applied to the internet. My email goes to a mail server in Virginia. I work in California and live in the Philippines

    • You can publish your communication anonymously (pseudo-anonymously, really, since with a proper subpeona, you can be identified) on a website. Those that don't want to be receive your anonymous communication can choose not to visit your website.

      • by spazdor ( 902907 )

        Then why isn't the burden of protecting our inboxes similarly moved to the inbox's owners? If you don't want to hear from every random person out there who thinks you might want to buy some Viagra, you can similarly choose not to use a communication system which could expose you to unsigned, unauthenticated messages.

        How do you propose that an anonymous party should inform the world of his website's existence, if he's not allowed to spam anyone about it?

    • Hey jack ass, it's spam not free speech and it wasn't anonymous it was "false identification." They guy entered a false IP address/Domain. He wasn't hiding his true IP address/Domain; which would be anonymous. He was committing fraud. Look it up sometime.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:40PM (#24983181)

    It is illegal to sell prescription drug without a prescription. Its also illegal to offer drugs to children in most states. Everyone here needs to call their country District attorney and ask them what they are doing about peddling drugs over the internet. It almost election time and some of them are trying to get elected as a state DA so now is the time to get on their case.

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:41PM (#24983189) Homepage

    The court is right about one thing: the law is too vague. Fix the law, and then there will be no problem with the courts.

    • Mod Parent Up (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mpapet ( 761907 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:46PM (#24983237) Homepage

      The rest of the posts missed this entirely. The court was right here too...

      And when the state suggested that the court merely tailor a restriction to the law within its opinion, the court declined.

      Courts more or less interpret laws and process law breakers. Changes in the law are supposed to come from legislation, not the bench.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Similar to the national do-not-call registry for telemarketers, there should be a national do-not-send-UCE registry for email. Then the courts could freely inflict punishment on violators while keeping clear of the First Amendment.

    • by Skapare ( 16644 )

      I agree with this. The law is too vague, and approaches the issue in the wrong way.

      Consider someone who wants to print up his own political or commercial speech on sheets of paper and distribute them. So he steals a printing press, paper, and ink, do do this. Does his right to free speech prevail over the property rights of the owner of the press, paper, and ink? What if the owner bought these things to carry out his own right of free speech; the owner's right to free speech have now been trampled on by

    • And to some degree it was dangerously vague. It is not a straw man to be concerned about laws barring anonymity. Plenty of high-level computer policy people have wanted to ban anonymous posting for reasons having nothing to do with spam, or with the cost of transmitting the messages in question. If the reason anonymity were restricted were because of spurious claims anonymous posting helps terrorists, or because politicians didn't like being criticized anonymously, I doubt many here would be defending the

  • by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:41PM (#24983197) Homepage Journal

    but your right to spam everyone with it?!

    First Ammendment in action?

    Spam is the ideal litmus test for where someone stands on the rights of free speech. It's almost universally objectionable, never warranted, and offensive to just about everyone.

    Yet I'm not sure if there's anyone in the ./ crowd who will stick to their free speech principles when such principles inconvenience them personally. Is there anyone here who, upon receiving spam, remarks to themselves, "Ah, yes, free speech is not dead. I'm glad that - although I personally could care less about replica watches or increasing the size of my body parts - that somewhere, someone out there is free to send such materials to my inbox. USA! USA! USA!"

    Because it stands to reason that if spammers have no right to send anonymous messages, then neither do you or I. While a lot of people may not like this particular consequence of free speech, it's far more dangerous to do away with the legal protections for anonymous speech.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by chromatic ( 9471 )

      First [Amendment] in action?

      Fraud, wire fraud, and trespass to chattel are illegal in the US. Are you seriously claiming that laws against all three violate the first amendment?

      • So is libel and slander. As is yelling "fire" in a crowded theater when there is actually none. Free speech does have limits. In particular, when speech causes harm, it has to be scrutinized closely for validity. And if it is invalid, then it may not be legal after all.

        Spam causes harm, and conveys a message that is false in more ways than one. Therefore, it isn't protected by the first amendment. However, maybe the existing law was too broad...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WK2 ( 1072560 )

      You have a valid point. However, I would argue that there is a large difference between expression, abuse, and advertising.

      Yet I'm not sure if there's anyone in the ./ crowd who will stick to their free speech principles when such principles inconvenience them personally.

      You seem to think that everybody on Slashdot thinks the same about free speech, and that everybody is an extremist. There are limits to everything. I doubt that even our forefathers would have approved of advertising and abuse such as spam and telemarketers. We don't allow people to shout into bullhorns at your house in the middle of the night, nor should we.

    • It's not an issue of free speech, per se. It's an issue of "are they allowed to use OTHER PEOPLE'S RESOURCES to do it". That's what it comes down to. If they want to post it on the web, dandy. But the moment they send that shit to my inbox, filling it needlessly, then it's wrong.

      • You leave your "resource" open to be used. If you don't want random annoyomous poeple to be able to you them, then close off your "resources".
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          If I am selling something door-to-door and I come to your door and you tell me to leave, I must leave your premises or I am committing trespass. I cannot say, "No, wait, now I am 'BlueCowHide'" and try again to make the sale again.

          Now, let us suppose I could make an army of robots that attempted to make the sales for me, and of course they speak very poorly, sometimes you aren't sure what they are even selling, and sometimes they lied about anything and just recited random words, and they all lied to you

          • Analogies are bad because they don't translate well. But to answer within your system, I'd place my own robot at the entrance to my property to screen your robots from even reaching my attention. Sure, one or two might get in, but no more then the average pesk that bothers me at my door right now.
    • by zarkill ( 1100367 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @04:00PM (#24983393)
      while you're correct that speech should be protected even if it is universally objectionable, never warranted, and offensive to just about everyone (and most people who really believe in freedom of speech would agree with you), i think the sticking point for spam is that spammers cause other people to unwillingly foot the bill for their publication.

      when someone publishes a book, they have to pay to have the book printed and distributed. but when a spammer sends spam, they're not paying those bills, they are passing the cost along to other people against their objections.

      using a first amendment defense to spamming is more like stealing someone's printing press, publishing your book with it, and then complaining about being prosecuted for stealing the printing press in the first place.

      if it was really only the content of spam that was objectionable, then you're right, any true supporter of free speech would grudgingly accept spam. but there's a question of resources being improperly used, and people losing massive amounts of time and money against their will, all to pass along dubious messages from third parties.
    • Commercial speech does not get 1st amendment protection.

    • Freedom of speech ends where private property begins. Spammers cross that line, and spend my money to do so as well.
    • The problem of spam isnt about free speech. Its about transferring the burden of costs associated with the transmission of that speech to its recipients. Buy your *OWN* printing press, and print all you want. The Internet is *NOT* your personal printing press. The Internet is a cooperative network, for *cooperative* intercommunication between individuals and organizations desiring to do so. There is no place for one party abusing that cooperation to force undesired communications, and the costs associated t

    • Yet I'm not sure if there's anyone in the ./ crowd who will stick to their free speech principles when such principles inconvenience them personally.

      I will, because I recognize that such an inconvenience is caused not by the existence of spammers (who will always exist) but by the failings of email providers / ISPs to filter the crap. Competition will improve the situation for everyone (except the spammers, of course).

    • Spam is the ideal litmus test for where someone stands on the rights of free speech. It's almost universally objectionable, never warranted, and offensive to just about everyone.

      The problem isn't spam, it's fraud.

      Unsolicited email with a valid return address that doesn't use text munging or images to evade filters is not objectionable. If you don't want to see it, filtering it is downright trivial. But that email is dwarfed by the vast amounts of untraceable "v1@gr@" spam coming from zombie nets.

      Without the fraud it's just email. You're free to send me all the email you want and I'm free to route it all to /dev/null if I want. First amendment satisfied.

    • doesn't mean that you can force your speech upon me. That's what spam does. Even if it's non-commercial, you have no right to send me anonymous email, unless I've specifically said or implied I want such - such as by "opting in" to a list server or publishing my email address on a website with an open invitation to send me email.
    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      Because it stands to reason that if spammers have no right to send anonymous messages, then neither do you or I.

      Spam is not anonymous speech. A spam's "from" header line is not blank. Instead, it contains data that is intended to deceive. Sometimes people even receive spam that appears to be from me, even though I did not send the spam.

      Compare these two quotations:

      "I am a pedophile." -- anonymous

      "I am a pedophile." -- gillbates (106458)

      See the difference, gillbates?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Is there anyone here who, upon receiving spam, remarks to themselves, "Ah, yes, free speech is not dead. I'm glad that - although I personally could care less about replica watches or increasing the size of my body parts - that somewhere, someone out there is free to send such materials to my inbox. USA! USA! USA!"

      No, I'm not gladdened by the sight of spam in my inbox. BUT...I'm also not terribly offended by it - I mark it as spam, train my spam filter, and continue without a second thought. It's just no

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Geeze. "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press...". Is this spammer part of the US government?

      When will you people get it through your heads that your "1st amendment rights to free speech" mean that the government can't stop you, not that you have the right to spend my money to express your speech.

      I feel like I'm hearing Gomer yelling "citizen's arrest"...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 12, 2008 @03:54PM (#24983315)

    Imagine if spammers sent you hundreds of text messages to your cell phone every day. Imagine you do not have unlimited text messaging. Lets say each message costs you $0.10 or so. People would be up in arms (hence why we don't see spammers doing this).

    Your free speech ends where my money begins. Using my bandwidth and my energy costs me money, you have no freedom of speech there, it's not a public resource.

  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @04:06PM (#24983475) Homepage
    Is this true? What exempts it?
  • link to opinion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arbitraryaardvark ( 845916 ) <gtbear@gm a i l .com> on Friday September 12, 2008 @04:12PM (#24983557) Homepage Journal

    The court did the right thing.
    I submitted an article back in May about this case.
    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/05/02/1910219 [slashdot.org]
    The court's decision is here in pdf:
    http://www.courts.state.va.us/opinions/opnscvwp/1062388.pdf [state.va.us]

    Spam is bad - personally I use gmail and rarely see spam. But it's hard to write a statute that bans spam and doesn't ban slashdot and the internet in general.
    Most of the anti-spam statutes out there are unconstitutional. Yay Va. Off to read the opinion.

    above post is informative, flamebait.

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @04:19PM (#24983623)
    Is the Court truely so clueless ("were the 'Federalist Papers' just being published today via e-mail, that transmission by Publius would violate the [current Virginia] statute.")?

    The Federalist Papers were never forced upon unwanting recipients who had to pay for their receipt, they were made available to those who wanted to read them. There was choice involved.

    The Federalist Papers were originally published in newspapers, so there's absolutely no parallel to spam. In modern terms, it would be a better comparison to blogs or websites. That can be done anonymously.

    Big FAIL for the Court.
  • So wait, I can send mail anonymously to random people that is commercial in nature. Yet I can't break DRM to play some video files in Linux or OS X, nor make backups. Not to mention that I can't download copyrighted stuff even for non profit use.

    So much for Government for the people and by the people.
  • The First Amendment protects everybody--including spammers.

    If I thought our republic was in danger, I'd spam everybody in an attempt to rouse them to protect it. That would be core protected First Amendment political speech. The GOVERNMENT should not be able to stop me--especially since I'd probably be rousing people to oust incumbents. To those who would authorize my government to shut such speech down, I despise what they say, but I would defend their right to say it with my life. But enough of that,

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 )
      This doesn't preclude laws prohibiting spamming in violation of a "do not spam" list. It doesn't preclude laws barring fraudulent or misleading spamming. It also doesn't prohibit private servers from refusing to store or deliver spam.
      Telemarketers, bulk mail distributors, and spammers, suck. But deal with them lawfully--there are legal tools available.
      Their First Amendment protection is YOUR First Amendment protection.


      You have the absolute right to say anything you please. You do not have the right to
  • Why is this not seen the same as cellphone spam(telemarketers)?

    They cannot legally call, because it would incur a cost to the individual. Given bandwidth caps, each and every spam email takes a bite out of my monthly payment to my ISP.

    Anonymous or not, we pay directly out of our pockets to get this crap.
    And if some 'spam' caused me to go over my monthly cap (slower service or extra payments), someone gets a kneecapping. Followed by a trial.
  • For they are legion. And legal.
  • Ok, so if this ass gets away with spam because of this ruling, isn't he potentially still guilty of committing wire fraud? If not for the false crap he was pitching, then because he allegedly forged IP and email addresses?
  • by wcrowe ( 94389 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @04:44PM (#24984065)

    That's just wrong. Email is NOT publishing. Comparing email to publishing the Federalist Papers is the kind of argument one would expect from a high school debater.

  • I'd throw in a first post, but it would just be spam!

  • First Amendment expert Eugene Volokh has a post on this decision over at the Volokh Conspiracy [volokh.com].

  • Publius wasn't anonymous. He was only anonymous to THOSE WHO DID NOT KNOW WHO HE WAS.

    Someone had to print and distribute the articles Publius wrote.

    There is no innate right to be anonymous and carry out vandalism and other crimes. There is an innate right to free speech which should be sufficient to prevent someone from seeking your identity if you are not otherwise committing a crime.

    It's easy to ban spam. Just define it without regard to the anonymity issue. I don't want spam from spammers I can ident

  • I don't understand the point of a law prohibiting forged headers. DomainKeys/DKIM is a perfectly good technological solution to the problem of forged headers. Yahoo and Gmail both sign their outgoing mail with DK, and within the last few months Yahoo has gotten very aggressive about dropping incoming mail into the bitbucket if it doesn't have a DK signature and isn't coming from a domain that's on their whitelist. People running email servers are just going to have to bite the bullet and implement DK, unle

  • Sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Friday September 12, 2008 @06:37PM (#24984891) Homepage
    Look, I hate spam as much as anyone else, but this conviction needed to be overturned. The law was written very poorly, and could have been interpreted to convict every "Anonymous Coward" here on /. that resides in Virginia.

    This is a bad thing , just in case that's not completely obvious.

    Should this guy go to jail? Yep. But first, rewrite the law to get it right. Identity theft is and should be illegal. If James sent even one e-mail that misappropriated someone else's e-mail address, then nail him on that charge. If he sent even one e-mail that advertises a business that is fraudulent, then nail him on fraud/conspiracy to commit fraud.

    However, the provision in the law that prohibits sending an e-mail anonymously is not and should not be what delineates a legitimate e-mail from a bogus one. If we follow that logic, then any e-mail that doesn't include some narrow variation on first name and last name (first.last@..., firstInitialLastName@...,etc.) could be interpreted as anonymous. This is not a good thing.

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