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Suing the Spammers 244

ReadbackMonkey writes "AOL sued a Queen's based group of spammers, and was awarded $600k. " As always spam is a nasty problem. This morning I was hit with my wseekly request to purchase toner (I don't own a printer) as well as an exciting pornographic opportunity. Its annoying, but I still don't feel happy about seeing lawsuits like this. I'm happy to see spammers pay, but how far could this go?
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Suing the Spammers

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  • by PxT ( 26449 )
    About time I say! Score one for the spam-haters!
  • It seems to me that AOL oughta be passing that money on to the actual people who received the spam. I'm sure their argument was that it was wasting precious space on their servers, but they are still not the people who really suffer from having to wade through the spam every day.
  • Mr. Bun: Morning.

    Waitress: Morning.

    Mr. Bun: Well, what you got?

    Waitress: Well, there's egg and bacon; egg, sausage and bacon; egg and spam; egg, bacon and spam; egg, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, bacon, sausage and spam; spam, egg, spam, spam, bacon and spam; spam, sausage, spam, spam, spam, bacon, spam, tomato and spam; spam, spam, spam, egg and spam; (Vikings start singing in background) spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam.

    Vikings: Spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam, lovely spam.

    Waitress: (cont) or lobster thermador ecrovets with a bournaise sause, served in the purple salm Mr. Bunor with chalots and overshies, garnished with truffle pate, brandy, a fried egg on top and spam.

    Mrs. Bun: Have you got anything without spam?

    Waitress: Well, there's spam, egg, sausage and spam. That's not got much spam in it.

    Mrs. Bun: I don't want any spam!

    Mr. Bun: Why can't she have egg, bacon, spam and sausage?

    Mrs. Bun: That's got spam in it.

    Mr. Bun: It hasn't got as much spam in it as spam, egg, sausage and spam has it?

    Mrs. Bun: (over Vikings starting again) Could you do me egg, bacon, spam and sausage without the spam then?

    Waitress: Ech!

    Mrs. Bun: What do you mean ech! I don't like spam!

    Vikings: Lovely spam, wonderful spam....etc

    Waitress: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Bloody vikings. You can't have egg, bacon, spam and sausage without the spam.

    Mrs. Bun: I don't like spam!

    Mr. Bun: Shh dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam and spam. (starts Vikings off again)

    Vikings: Lovely spam, wonderful spam...etc

    Waitress: Shut up! Baked beans are off.

    Mr. Bun: Well, can I have her spam instead of the baked beans?

    Waitress: You mean spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, and spam?

    Vikings: Lovely spam, wonderful spam...etc...spam, spam, spam! (in harmony)

  • by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @05:38AM (#1466434) Homepage Journal
    Since the Defendants are a) ignoring the order to cease and desist, b) not co-operating with the process server, and c) indicating they won't pay, I hope the judge will find them in contempt of court and issue a bench warrent for their arrest. Let them get shome nice striped sunlight for a while.

    If this happens, I hope somebody puts a webcam on their cell. I'd pay to see that!

    Now watch, some spammer will send out spam advertising the WebCam on the spammers.

  • IMHO spamming is something that should be prevented as rigorously as possible, and if lawsuits are the only effective means, so be it. However, this procedure is slow and unavailable to small ISPs who don't have the $$$ to back up such a lawsuit.
  • AOL gets the money because spam is taking away resources from THEIR network. Yeah, the end user has to read through and delete all the spam, but it first has to pass through their network. And when you pay for your bandwidth, the spamers should be held responsible for their actions. AOL has paid for the network equipment and everything.
    I feel that isn't enough to stop spam, but I would really love to see other spamers have to pay up also.
  • While the problem of Spam seems to have lessened in recent years (it did for me, anyway), I still think Spammers should be hit with everything we can must.

    Real-life advertisments are bad enough, but Spam really takes the buiscuit. It's often illegal or immoral, and almost always the spammers hide by abusing a honest netuser's badly maintained mailserver to handle the load of traffic, generating in fact large damages. Also, some spammers go even further - Twice, a spammer used my email address in the From field. This, as you may understand, caused in me a "zero tolerance to spammers" attitude.

    If Spam was properly labelled and included valid from: information, I could tolerate it (and feed them their own spam). Just like in the Real World.

    Anyway, the bottom line: I think with lawsuits like this, justice is served.

    Now, for the Amazon Patent trials... *SIGH*...
  • The corporation which mails 74 metric tons of promotional disks to innocent victims everywhere just recieved nearly a million dollars from spammers?
    Why can't the real victims get some of this cash? Is AOL going to dump the money they made from this lawsuit into producing more "30 minutes free" CD's? Will our civilization dissapear underneath the combined weight of Publisher's Clearing House and America Online?

    ...stay tuned for next year's exciting episode.
  • AOL paid to download the spam. AOL paid lawyers to draft letters to stop the spam. AOL paid people to listen to customer complaints. AOl finally paid to take these putzes to court and stop them. Only if an AOL customer pays by the MB for their e-mail, do they have a claim on the cash.


  • Spam still is a problem. How much bandwidth and storage is wasted daily on unsolicited commercial email? I actually sorta admire AOL in that they fought the spammers and won. I doubt this will "deter" any future spammers, but it will give them something to think about.

    I know a few states, at least, have anti-UCE emails. However, it shouldn't be a nation or world wide thing. Suing is the correct path of action, because the spam itself takes up precious bandwidth, costs the end-user (in terms of connection time), and costs the ISP (in terms of storage). I'm hoping that this makes an impact on the amount of spam, but I'm not holding my breath.

    Now, I have to get back to making my AOL coasters...

  • We all know that SPAM really sucks, but what are you going to do? Sure you could take the time to trace the message all the way back to its point of origin, but do you really WANT to do that with all of 'em? Lets face it, SPAM wastes everybody's time. The sender needs to compose the message, the reciever needs to sift through dozens of unwated solicitations, hell - it even chews up CPU time to send off 10,000 messages at once. What I don't understand is why AOL recieved anything. Sure the messages use up some disk space - Big Deal! Hard drives are so cheap nowadays. It's not even like AOL even needed to wade through it! The money should be filtered down to the people who actually recieved the SPAM. It's nice to see that people are taking a stand against spammers, but let's face it - they're fighting a losing battle.
  • I've resorted to a two-tier e-mail address scheme to avoid spam.

    I have a public e-mail address, and a private address. My public address is the one listed at the top of this message. My private address isn't listed anywhere, and never will be. I've configured pdrap@startrekmail.com to forward everything to my other e-mail address where I can read it. All my friends have the other e-mail address because it never changes.

    Eventually, spammers will all have the pdrap@startrekmail address, and it will be useless because of all the spam. All I need to do is abandon the address, and sign up for another one. My main e-mail address never changes, so my friends never need to update their address books.

    So far, it works.
  • This is something I've been waiting for. Spam does cause damage. If you flooded someone's network with zillions of ICMP packets in a packet flood should you be liable? Of course! The same applies for spam. Some people may cry "Free Speach!" but really. Free speach is not helped by allowing spam. If I was to packet flood you with the Communist Manifesto could I claim that I should be protected by free speach? Of course not.

    There are common carrier precidents that allow an ISP to escape liability if they do not try to filter out what their customers see. Spam should be an exception.

    In the mean time I hope more ISPs follow AOL and sue spammers. It's about time.

  • Whatcha gonna call it? TacosHos.com? RobsBitches.com? SlashdotHotties.com? C'mon, let us in on it! ;-)
  • Its annoying, but I still don't feel happy about seeing lawsuits like this. I'm happy to see spammers pay, but how far could this go? On the one hand, you abhor spam and desire that spammers spend eternity in the innermost circle of hell. On the other hand, you're not sure you want them sued. What gives? Currently, suits such as this are our ONLY redress against spammers, since in most states, spam is neither a criminal nor a civil offense. The only leverage anyone has against spammers is to sue them as hard and as long as possible. In general, only corporations have the legal resources to do this. While I would prefer to see other solutions in the long term, in the short term, I see no way around these law suits except to let spam continue unabated. These lawsuits also establish a trend in the court systems (I don't want to say precedent, since they're not necessarily precedents). As long as the court system is finding that spam is bad, spammers can't tell Congress and state legislatures "We've been doing this for years, there's never been any indication that it's bad or wrong, and now you're taking our business away from us." Trust me, they will use this argument if they can.
  • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @05:43AM (#1466449)
    Once again, /. posts an article without reading it themselves:

    > The unsolicited messages, which included fraudulent headers misrepresenting that the messages came from aol.com...

    They weren't busted because of the spam, but because the spam appeared to come from AOL.

    > AOL was entitled to recover for unjust enrichment, since Christian Brothers unlawfully used the AOL mark...
  • Southern District Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman... ruled that AOL was entitled to recover for unjust enrichment, since Christian Brothers unlawfully used the AOL mark and misappropriated services that otherwise could have been sold to advertisers.

    The way I read that, AOL are complaining that they wanted to spam their own customers and got damages on the basis of lost spam-generated revenue. I'm not sure what they mean about "misappropriating the AOL mark". Perhaps the Christian Brothers are one of the group of spammers that use somejunkaddress@aol.com as the From: field.

  • by Otto ( 17870 )
    This means any ISP can sue spammers that use their services on the same basis.


    It's a small win, but it is a win indeed.
  • have anti-UCE emails

    hehehe. Make that "anti-UCE laws."
    /me needs more coffee.
  • such as this guy which i received at 'yougotthisfromslashdot@overtone.org' the other day. ---
    We are writing in response to your software advertisement on the Internet, and
    will be honored to feature your software in our listings with a description and
    link to your home page., etc etc etc.

  • Well, AOL is getting the money because it is AOL that suffered the damages. Not only is the spam a waste of disk space and bandwidth (which AOL claims could have been sold to legitimate advertises - those that pay for it), but these guys fraudulently used the AOL name (probably changed the email headers) which could potentially harm the reputation of AOL (in the eyes of its members, wise-guy!)

    Not only did these guys keep spamming away, they were also completely unresponsive to any request to stop, even throwing their court papers out the window when they were served.

    Now, I'm not an AOL fan by any stretch, but this time they deserve the $

  • The reason? Simple. It should go to them to decrease their operating costs and allow them to either provide better services or reduce rates. It would be easy for a large company like that to spend then entire $600,000 award just trying to determine who received the particular SPAM and that would be a waste.

    Lets go get more of those lowly SPAMmers! A few cases like this and the net will be much nicer.

  • What is so bad about sueing spammers? Spam is annoying, it creates lag, and people who don't send it have to pay for it. I didn't check my email for a week and I got 40 spam emails. That's about 4 months worth of paper mail spam.
  • not to mention the impact of people throwing away [whatever-the-quantity-is] of CDROM every week.

    we should have a day each year where everyone writes "return to sender" on all their AOL CDs and puts them back in the mail.
  • I'm happy to see spammers pay, but how far could this go?

    Far enough that people start behaving responsibly on the network? Hey, I can dream...

    Aside from the self-serving "free speach [sic]" arguments of the spammers themselves, I can't imagine anything bad to say about this.

    Time to plug my spam solution [interlog.com] again.

  • by retep ( 108840 )

    Spam isn't "no big deal" It costs lots of money to maintain servers that can handle large amount of email. Spam just adds to the load. When you send 500,000 messages to and ISP, as is often done by spammers, you use up *huge* amounts of computing power. Hard drive space may be cheap but it does cost money. The millions of spam messages add up real quick.

  • 600,000? Is that really THAT much these days. Not to say that I think it's pocket change...if I had 600K all of a sudden, I'd need a new pair of pants(i.e. I would have pissed them). Anyway, it's a lot of money...but not THAT much.

    And maybe that money would have been better spent informing users NOT TO RESPOND! This is similar to the people on the street with the cups of change (they never have empty cups, and yet they still beg...hmmm...note: this last comment was not meant to start a flame war, just an observation). If you respond to these people - give them change - they will continue to beg. If some people respond to spam, spam will continue to be sent. If people continue to buy lottery tickets hoping to win(and thereby bringing lots of money to the people running the lottery), lotteries will continue to be run.

    So, the next time you get one of those spam emails giving you an address at which you can be removed, don't bother...it might just be their way of seeing if your address is real.

    ------------------------------------------------ --
    "chmod a-rwx / -R" [ENTER] "hmm...access denied? but why...oh..oh...oh crap"
  • Make up your mind CmdrTaco, you hate SPAM but you don't want to see lawsuits to stop it? What?

    There is a law against unsoliticted email in the US I believe and read the article, what these apricot sellers did is close to fraud. They ignored cease and desists, tried to fake their from address etc etc. We need more lawsuits like this, only the realisation that the money they may be fined is more than the amount they can make will stop these companies.

    Free speech is one thing, anyone should be able to put up a web site expressing any view BUT your right to free speech does NOT equal a right to send strangers unsolicited email using someone else's network.
  • Magistrate Judge Pitman found that
    AOL was due $17,940 in hardware processing costs;

    I find this rather low considering how long the spamming went on.

    $24,625 in attorney's fees;

    Again this is fine with me. Lawyers don't come cheap.

    and $200,000 in punitive damages.
    Fine em out the ass is my preference.

    but here is the one that gets me:

    treble damages of $389,020 for lost advertising revenue

    They actualled got payed because they couldn't send out their *OWN* spam?
    How did they calculate this amount. What advertising was lost? Is this based somehow on a combination of the others? Due to the fact they lost such and such amounts of money paying for the other stuff, they were not able to invest this into advertising? Can someone explain how this works?

    Also does anyone know if the disclaimers that many people put on their websites stating to the effect of "any unsolicted email is considered to be submitted for proffing at 500 per email" or whatnot are legally valid and binding?
  • It also helps to use a RBL if you run your own mailserver (www.orbs.org) but it does catch "innocent" email, as well.

    Also not posting to usenet helps a LOT.... ;-(
  • by richnut ( 15117 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @05:48AM (#1466465)
    I used to work for an ISP, and spam erradication is a huge resource drain. Not only do you need to have people chase the spammers down, but you have spend time dealing with the mercenaries at RBL, you have to continually keep an eye on your mail servers, not to mention field user complaints who post to alt.sex.gimme.pr0n and then complain when they recieve spam. Let the spammers pay. I'm glad AOL wins. Spam ruins the internet.

  • We can cure lots of problems easily.

    Start charging a penny per recipient per each message sent, to curb the excessive mailings from spammers.

    And use the profits to buy you a printer, so that those with enough money to spam under the new system can expect your business.

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • AOL can sue a spammer, and get $600k out of it. But I guarantee if the recipient of spam sued the spammer, they wouldn't win.

    A QUEENS-BASED group that markets apricot seeds as a cancer cure over the Internet has been hit with more than $600,000 in damages for clogging the computer systems of America Online Inc. with the transmission of millions of the unsolicited e-mail messages known as "spam."

    I don't doubt that this spammer contributed to AOL's network problems, but it seems like AOL is using them as a scapegoat to use as an excuse for their poor network structure. $600,000 worth? Nope. A big chunk of that money was recovered because the spammers were illegally using AOL's trademark, but AOL is trying to push it as "They clogged up our network."

    Now, on to the rightfully concerned parties. Sure, AOL has the definite right to be upset about unnecessary network traffic used as spam, but what about the people who have mailboxes full of it? See, AOL gets a nice tidy $600k reward for disposing of a spammer, but what about everyone who got these spam messages in their inbox? What do they get? "Thank you for forwarding your spam message to abuse@aol.com. While we can't offer a personal response, we will look into the matter and hopefully collect a nice chunk of change while you get spam from 8 million other AOL addresses. Have a nice day."

    AOL should use the cash to update their network for their members, but they won't. That money is going into their "So-easy-to-use-no-wonder-it's-number-one" ad campaign. And with every new member who signs on, their network slows down another notch.

    "By God, it must be more spammers."

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • You " hate to see lawsuits like this?"

    Why not? Try looking at it this way:
    People who send 'spam snailmail' (i.e., junk mail) have to pay the United States Postal Service directly to compensate its workers and postal carriers and finance the infrastructure which facilitatesthe delivery of that mail. If they want to send junk mail to 100,000,000 people, it's within their right.

    However, Internet spammers are paying an ISP on the edge of the Big Ole Net for two pipes -- one into the ISP, and one out onto the rest of the Internet. If they send out spam to 100,000,000 people, that mail

    1. Traverses lines and takes up bandwidth provided by companies who receive no compensation for allowing the spam to pass
    2. Is parsed by mail servers that are administered by folks whose companies do not get compensated for simply parsing other peoples' email
    3. Takes up tremendous amount of expensive disk space on servers that are run by companies who receive no additional fundage for delivering that email.
    So, it's like paying 1 post office a penny a piece to deliver mail all over the US, instead of paying the whole postal service.

    It's theft. It's why we used to yell at folks in UseNet just 'cause their .sigs were too long. Now people send spam mail with HTML and graphics and code... I'll bet the amount was pretty well justified by the expense AOL had to go through to deal with the Spam.

    I'm no fan of AOL, but I'll defend their right to not be stolen from any day.


  • As much as I dislike SPAM, I am not sure I like the idea of lawsuits over SPAM. Politicians, businesses and the like will have an easier time *regulating* the net if lawsuits begin to be looked upon as a functional way of getting what they want. I'm not sure I like that very much.

  • They send me weekly ads for toner. I have replied and told them I don't own a laser printer, but that doesn't seem to convince them that I don't really need toner...
  • by sparks ( 7204 ) <acrawford.laetabilis@com> on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @05:50AM (#1466471) Homepage
    I'm entirely happy to see lawsuits of this type succeed. If you get spammed, track 'em down. And if you can track 'em down, sue 'em.

    Spammers abuse other people's private property, raise the costs of everyone's Internet access, have basically no interest in anyone's desire for privacy, and generally piss off 99% of the people who receive their crap. And it is crap. From obscenely detailed come-ons to porn sites (sent with disregard for the recipients age and sex) to illegal and fraudulant "business opportunities" they are so far from being legitimate and valid businesses it's beyond belief. In six years as an Internet user I have never received a spam that was of any interest or relevance to me.

    Thing is; they only have to get a tiny response rate to be successful. If you mail a million people, and 0.01% respond, that's still one hundred responses. The cost (to the sender) of spamming those million people is very small, and the prospect of one hundred responses can certainly justify it. Who cares if the other 99.99% want you hung? There's always another ISP to buy a throw-away account from for next week's spam.

    But someone pays. The ISPs do, in terms of bandwidth, storage space, and full-time staff to deal with the abuse (read: "mainly spam") problems. And you pay, in terms of your own bandwidth and your own time.

    "But surely," the spammers squeal, "anyone can send any emails they want. The Internet is open to anyone!". In fact, this isn't true. The Internet is a collection of interconnected private networks. Those servers and routers are private property. Anything you do across them, you do because of private, voluntary agreements.

    And the connection between your computer and that network? That's a private, voluntary agreement too. And one of the conditions of that agreement, like as not, is that you may not send unsolicited commercial bulk email. And if you ignore that rule, and incur costs and annoyance for other people? Well then, you're liable to be sued. And so it should be.

    This is the way forward; not unworkable anti-spam legislation, but the simple and straightforward enforcement of voluntary private contracts. Way to go AOL. Let's see more of this.

  • I found it telling that the spammers in question totally disregarded the proceedings... What did they hope to accomplish by not defending themselves? Did they think it'd just blow over or something? I gotta admit, I don't give spammers a lot of credit for intelligence, but come on! Ignoring AOL's attempts to serve documents on them according to the law was a totally stupid move.

    If Christian Brothers' actions are indicative of the attitudes of spammers in general, spamming is going to become criminalized real quick. These folks have no respect for the law or even common decency. For crying out loud, they were telling people they could cure Cancer by eating apricot seeds??? That sort of thing should be prosecuted as fraud! Oh well... Hopefully this will serve as precedent, and the spamming "industry" is about to take it in the pocketbook.


  • by Anonymous Coward
    The more important point is not who gets the cash but that a public judgement has been made penalising spamming. In the end this judgement will directly benefit the end user especially if it starts a run of such suits, which it hopefully will.


    look out, there are llamas
  • I just wish we could do something about all the telemarketers...in my opinion these people are far more annoying than spammers. At least spam doesn't start arguing with you when you hit "delete".

    But as far as suing the spammers goes, I can't say I agree with it (especially with the suit coming from such a large company). We have enough frivolous lawsuits in this country as it is - we don't need AOL to start suing all the millions of spammers out there.

    While I do agree that something should be done about spamming, there aren't really any effective solutions at this point...even with 99.9% of us ignoring all the spam, you still have that .1% that goes and ruins it for the rest of us by responding/buying/etc.

    Actually, this has just brought to mind an interesting solution: instead of killing all the spammers, we could simply kill anyone who's ever replied to spam. :)
  • 600k against a few spammers is certainly a step.

    However, it doesn't thrill me that AOL is reaping the rewards of this successful lawsuit. Don't they already own the other half of the world that Microsoft doesn't?

    If they'd pass this on to their customers by giving them discounts or using it to upgrade or crackdown spam on their servers, I'd be a bit more willing to give this a thumb's up.

    This seems like a pyrrhic victory for those of us who get daily mail that will "make us rich without even thinking."
  • -- -
    ReadbackMonkey writes "AOL sued a Queen's based group of spammers, and was awarded $600k. " .. .. but I still don't feel happy about seeing lawsuits like this. I'm happy to see spammers pay, but how far could this go?
    --- - End Quote

    Lets see. They spam the AOL network relentlessly trying to sell their Peach seeds (or whatever). They used AOL's name in their spam, presumably to make it appear that it was a partnership with AOL.

    . Misappropriation of a Corporation name (AOL)
    . Spam/UCE
    . Attempts to hide identity (fake headers)
    . Loss of bandwith, storage, network performance
    . Possible loss of revenue (AOL could have lost
    potential money due to that group using the
    AOL name in its marketing)
    . Refusal to stop, even after repeated requests
    by AOL, etc.
    . Disrespecting the law (throwing the court papers
    they were served with right back in their face,
    literally (read the article)
    -- -
    All this, and you hate to see someone like this get nailed with a decent lawsuit? Personally, I think someone who behaves in that manner, totally disrespects the law, wastes everyones banwidth, and is only concerned with themselves (they continued to send mass spam to AOL customers even after the request not to) should be sued into the ground and then shot. They deserve it.

  • "Since 1997, the report said, Christian Brothers had unlawfully obtained mailing lists of the e-mail addresses of AOL members and sent more than 20 million messages to them using AOL's computer networks."

    It appears that both points are valid: They were busted for the spam, as well as forging headers.
  • If the people who lost time, etc want money, then they can file a class action lawsuit against the spammers. It will probably be easier for them because this decision holds that the spammers did do it, but you would still have to convince the judge that time/money was lost. IANALBIMTALS
  • I agree with you that most AOL users just forward everything they see and want to see.
    However, please note most AOL users are newbies...

    never seen a newsgroup
    never seen an ircchannel

    But they know how to work with email... it's just plain old easy because it's build in with windows and you don't have to download anything to get it working...
    I hate it too: the internet is spoiled with nothing but newbies

  • Spammers are the lowest form of life on this planet, right next to single celled plant forms and Brandon Palmer.

    $600,000 isn't going to hurt them in the least. What we need to do is hunt them down in the dark of night like the vicious bastards they are. I supposed we'd need licenses, taxes, and designated hunting seasons, but believe you me, the revenue is there.

    I won't be happy until every last one of them has been wiped off the face of the earth for all time.

    Think I'm too harsh? Try reading my e-mail sometime. And then hand me my gun.

  • Any spam I receive that seems to have a non-free address (there's not a huge amount you can do about hotmail et al.) gets placed in a text file, which is used as the seed for a web-page [lowfield.co.uk], so that the bots that go around mining addresses get to pick up lots of spammers' addresses.

    I doubt it's useful, but it makes me feel better. After all, it's not costing me money, really - just time, and not much of that in the scheme of things.

  • I know a few states, at least, have anti-UCE emails. However, it shouldn't be a nation or world wide thing. Suing is the correct path of action,

    A good lawsuit, appealed a couple of times, is as effective in creating law as legislation. The big difference is that if you don't like the law, you can't fire the people who made it.
  • The fact is spammers are oriented by the potential revenue they can receive. If the potential cost is a hefty lawsuit then maybe this will deter them.

    'Course, this raises the question WHY spammers think they make cash out of spam. They must get some sort of validation for this belief, right? I am someone out there, or more precisely enough people out there, must respond to this junk?

    Its shit like spam (particularly adult spam) that'll start those idiots in national governments thinking about censoring the Net.

    In my books: Burn all spammers at the stake.
  • Hopefully they'll end in .org, because they'll be a non-profit entity :)
  • This can't really go far at all. It deals with unsolicited bulk mails being forced upon the subscribers to an online service. While the article didn't actually define (maybe I skimmed) the court definition of 'bulk', I would imagine that it is fairly considerable.

    This case related purely to ISPs, and will not have repercussions in the non-wired world. It is based around the forced transmittal of e-mail inherent to the structure of an ISP. When one addresses mail to X@aol.com, AOL has to deliver it. They cannot employ a million monkeys to read every mail that passes their doors. As well, AOL does not charge for e-mail sent, only for the privilege of a member receiving it. The post office, of course, charges by sending and not receiving. This is why the Postmaster General has never sued Publisher's Clearing House.

    Where will this stop? It'll stop with spammers, I presume. I've never utilised a mass e-mail in order to accomplish anything remotely worthwhile, nor have I felt the urge.

    There are some legal issues at stake here. As mentioned, spam advantages itself of the nature of an ISP. I would have imagined that, legally, this would disqualify any successful lawsuits against Spam. Instead, the onus should perhaps be placed on an individual ISP to block all mails sent to >25% of its user list originating from the same domain. Of course, this still burns space on the servers for a given ISP, but perhaps these are infrastructure issues that should have been earlier addressed. What veteran of UseNET could not have sagely pointed to Timmy in Colorado and his never-ending difficulties with a variety of diseases when charged with an infrastructure consultancy role for a startup ISP? This is an important lawsuit, because it is establishing point of responsibility for bulk e-mails.

    If concerned with frivolous lawsuits, this does not qualify. The United States legal system supports a suit based around unmeasurable 'psychological agony', not to mention that if you have trouble getting an erection after any sort of trauma you're entitled to a boatload of benjamins. As it were. This lawsuit seems necessary to me. It's ruling on who dwells firmly in the wrong (spammers) effectively ends the quietish war waged between ISP and marketing reps, should this case fall as a firm precedent in the judicial system.

    I do have some reservations, however. My day will become increasingly dull as I am no longer called upon to wage war against Islamic treatment of women, save various children trapped in various wills, visit webpages in order to resuscitate Charlie Chaplin, indicate my grocery shopping preferences or partake of some high-quality ultra XXX full penetration action. I will no longer qualify to punch the monkey, follow links to great savings or track down a long lost love. My social conscience, smart shopping and porn consumption will all doubtless suffer as a result of this lawsuit.


  • It seems to me that AOL oughta be passing that money on to the actual people who received the spam. I'm sure their argument was that it was wasting precious space on their servers, but they are still not the people who really suffer from having to wade through the spam every day.

    Have you ever waded through hundreds (i'm sure it was millions in aols case) of spammails, trying to erase them all, to regain some of the lost space on your vsm partition? I can tell you, it's a LOT of work. Of course, not worth 600k, but I'm glad they won. :)

  • I didn't expect a kind of Spamish repatition.
  • I vote for "Commander Taco's House of Ho's".
  • I'm happy to see spammers pay, but how far could this go?

    I hint a tone of, hmmm... concern? in this comment. I haven't seen anyone address that yet.

    How far could this go? Maybe we should be concerned that sending our humor e-mails to a large list of recipients could end us up in court paying AOL heaps of money for tying up their servers, even when the recipients didn't mind receiving it. It doesn't just apply to this case -- one could argue anyone who sends large volumes of e-mail for any reason could be subject to penalties. I guess that's a concern, in a very convoluted way (although the spammers that were clipped here were guilty of much worse crimes...)

    One way I've deal with this (my geographically wide-spread family sends each other a dozen or so humor e-mails per day) is by signing up for one of those free listserver/majordomo services. I'm not sure that they (e.g. OneList [onelist.com] would defend me, but I do know that by subscribing to my list, I can show that the recipients were not just passive but took active steps to become involved in my list, therefore my weekly humor digest is not "spam". At least, that's my thinking.

    I'm not happy with the spector of being abused by big business because I send a lot of e-mail to their subscribers, but on the other hand spam has gotten out of control. If direct-mail marketting companies operated like they do, they would have been locked up years ago. Sure, the "spam" snail-mail can come to you without an address; likewise you can throw it away unopened or even mail it back to them in their own post-paid envelopes. BUT, if direct-mail companies sent out snail-mail with someone else's return address on the envelope, you can bet they'd be clipped quickly. Why spammers think this helps their business case, I have no idea.

    In my opinion, another thing that must be stopped are so-called "web bugs", effectively something we've already all talked about here (cookies in GIFs) but attached to HTML e-mails that automatically load on Outlook Express. I guess people who use OE get what they deserve, but this practice should be illegal. Unfortunately, I can't find the Web Bug FAQ link here, but those "1 X 1 GIFs" must go!

  • by Gurlia ( 110988 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @06:00AM (#1466496)

    Because AOL spent resources to track down the spam, trace their origin, take action, and hire lawyers to bring it to court when the defendents refused to comply with their requests.

    It's funny how the /. crowd has mixed feelings about this -- I suppose some people here hold a grudge against AOL (and I don't blame them). OT1H it's a good thing that AOL won -- at least this reduces the rate at which the signal to noise ratio of the Net decreases these days... OTOH a lot of spam originates from AOL users. But I hope people realize that AOL in itself isn't "evil". It's just that with any service marketed to the masses, not just with AOL, there are always abusers and people who don't know better than to send "cute mail" to each other all the time. For example: Slashdot, with the Natalie Portman posts... You aren't going to label Slashdot as "evil" and wish it to shut down just because a few lusers abuse it, are you?

  • Would it be wrong to spam the spammers? Continously send them email with the from address from themselves? Continously flood ping them. Email bomb them. Continoulsy open and close sockets to all their open ports concurrently?

    I know, a bit script kiddish. What would be the legal implications? I guess it's all determined upon knowing where the spam comes from.
  • They're fighting a losing battle?
    I dont think so. These kind of court cases need to happen MORE often. Which of the following situations would make you think twice about sending out your OWN 3 metric tons of spam:

    a) no successful lawsuits against spammers.
    b) 150 successful lawsuits totalling $4 million in the last 4 months against spammers.

    I think people need to sue the hell out of spammers. Whats their motivation to stop? If nobody is willing to actually hurt them in a way that makes them want to stop, they wont.

    Cancel their account at their ISP? ooooh, no. Now they have to make a phone call and sign up with the ISP across the street.

    Sue them for $1.5 million? Even if you lose the case, its damn likely they'll reconsider before doing it again.

    The problem is, a lot of laws have gotten soft.
    Freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to invade my freedom of privacy. If I dont want to hear about their great new offer of prOn or printers or paper, I shouldn't have to.. but the way its becoming, its becoming almost impossible to get an email account ANYWHERE without getting at lest a little spam every day. Quite sad.

    Do nothing, and it will not get better, it will only get worse. How would you like HAVING to install a custom email filter that sorted out names you knew from your inbox and dumped the rest of the mail in the trash, because you received 400 spams and 3 real emails. I can see that happening not too far in the future..
  • I'm glad that the spammers got a beating from AOL, but what worries me is the thought of thousands of AOL users actually buying into the 'Apricots are a cure for Cancer' garbage.

    I hope law enforcement goes after them for fradulent claims.
    I'm not saying AOL users are stupid (as I usually do) but there is a certain weak element in any large group.
  • Mr Sam Khuri, the perpetrator of the Benchmark Printing toner spams, is himself facing a number of lawsuits but this idiot just keeps it up. See this [pglwebdesigns.com] for some more info on this bonehead.
  • When I have time I send the following message to:
    The person spamming,
    The domain the person belongs to at abuse/webmaster/hostmaster,
    And the domain who hosts their DNS servers at hostmaster/abuse/webmaster.

    To whom it may concern:

    I will not support any organization or person who sends me unsolicited email, nor will I support any organization which allows its users to do so.

    The user at **DOMAIN** has sent unsolicited mail. According to your policy (**UPPOLICY**) this is not permitted on your servers. I am requesting that you re-iterate this policy to the following user. The email in question is included inline at the bottom of this email.

    This is your notice to remove the following email addresses from any list, database, or any storage method or medium under your control; and is intended to inform you that any further unsolicited email from you or anyone at your domain will be considered misuse of our email servers and associated computer equipment. If you received this email from a third party please indicated to them that they are to remove the following email addresses as well.

    Any email address under the domain MYDOMAIN.COM

    Thank you for your time.

    -M. Adam Davis
    Systems Administrator

    The full header of the message is available upon request.

    After this kind of message is sent to two or three spammers, my incoming spam slows down for about a week.

    Of course it doesn't work if they forge their headers, but if it's particularily annoying then I'll generally track them down using the header info that is left.


    The difference between those who are committed and those who are not is the difference between the words want and will.
    Marvin J. Ashton
  • When I have time I send the following message to:
    The person spamming,

    Nice idea, but isn't responding directly to the spammer just confirming to them that your address works and thus making it more likely that you'll receive something in the future?

  • I can think of three ways of dealing with the spam problem. 1) Utilize the existing laws as was done in the AOL case. 2) Pass laws making it illegal. 3) Find a technical solution to cut it out at the source.

    AOL with its sizable legal resources has chosen to persue the first option. I think they need to be congratulated for helping to set legal precedents that will slow the spam. This seems like it will be the most effective short term spam solution.

    I am not holding my breath waiting for effective laws to be passed dealing with the spam issue. It seems that every time a useful bill comes up, it is gutted to allow businesses to have free reign in advertizing to the maximum extent allowed.

    So far, I have not seen a good technical solution to the spam problem. Requiring each e-mail recipient to set up mail filters or to track down the spammers and report the abuse is a tremendous waste of time to the people being spammed in the first place. Until antispam technology is built into the mail server software and the mail clients, I really don't think the spam problem will go away.

    It seems to me that creating a spam killer application would be a valuable use of the open source community's time.

  • I'm happy for AOL in this case.

    Stopping spammers should be every ISP's damned duty. Spammers ruin the internet. Since I'm my own ISP, my root/postmaster account nowadays receive a lot of doublebouncing email due to spammer spamming this ar-RemoveThis-cade@kvinesdal.com address. They just spam and spam. Ignoring the fact that people hate receiving it.

    Even more worrying, are that lots of people BELIEVE in the spam they get. Especially newbies. I used to help a friend of mine at an Internet Cafe in Oslo. one of the customers got some spam to her hotmail account. Suddenly she CHEERED. She thought she had won a holiday to florida. It took some time to explain to her that it was a bogus spam. She wanted to try it out. "She had nothing to lose". Blah.

    We need not only to educate ISP's to terminate spammers IMEDIATELY. (I recently got spammed by "helsekost.net" here in norway. Narviknett, the spammers isp DID NOT terminate the account, only issued a warning, and neither the webhotell or telia - the upstream of the webhotell cared to take action). We also need to educate people that spam should be DELETED/IGNORED and more preferably COMPLAINED ABOUT. One should NEVER EVER buy something advertised in spam.

    Also, most spam is sent through relays. Most often these do not know that they are open for spamrelays. ALWAYS lookup the domain of the mailserver, and send some mail to postmaster@host, and abuse@isp / abuse@upstream and so forth. They will take care of stopping the relaying.

    On UseNet, always try to trace the spam, and complaint to the ISP of the spammer. Spam should NEVER EVER be accepted. It should be terminated, at once.

    Spammers are human waste. They don't deserve to be on the net.

  • Well, let's think.

    Are you planning to try to hurt AOL's reputation in front of millions of people by forging their trademark onto a fraudulent medical claim?

    If not, I wouldn't worry too much.

    Yes, this was a good suit. No, it's not a problem. No, it's not likely to become a problem. There's nothing that they were sued for that people shouldn't, potentially, be sued for.

    Someone fussed about distributing jokes to friends. Well, as a friend who gets a lot of jokes, let me say, *STOP*. It's actually pretty irritating to those of us who skim web sites and Usenet already, because we *have* already seen it.
  • Being able to sue someone because you spilled coffee on yourself is just plain dumb.

    Being able to sue someone who knowingly and intentionally performed actions that hurt you or your business is what lawsuits are supposed to be for.

    Go AOL (even if your service sucks).
  • > They were busted for the spam, as well as forging headers.

    No, they were only *busted* for the forging. MicroSoft was busted for being a monopoly, not for selling software. Nevertheless, the FoF do indicate that MicroSoft sells software. It may be a fact that Christian Brothers were spamming AOL, but they were busted for infringing on the trademark.

    And that makes sense. The rules on copyright and trademark are pretty clear. Spam, on the other hand, is still in a sort of legal limbo. It's still too new to really say what is and is not allowed, which is why so many people are pressing for the legislatures to pass laws. It would be fruitless to expect these decision to be made by the court absent any laws. You'd need to find a truly activist court to find that spam was illegal absent any legislation.

    However, no new laws need to be passed and no new court decisions need be made to make it illegal to use another companies trademark to promote your product.
  • Sure it is... And how exactly do you intend to enforce this email tax? Who's to stop the spammers from finding an ISP in another country that doesn't have an email tax? You know, I'm all for an omnipotent tax collector who can track down every email sent on the net (not to mention COLLECT), but come on, you can't seriously think it's possible?
  • That would be "Queens-based", not "Queen's based". To further clarify, Queens is a burrough of New York City.

    Thanks for your time :)


  • by Anonymous Coward
    While the above "they should get the $ 'cuz" posts are fairly valid, they miss one point: AOL is a service company, not a product company. (Yes they have product of software, but that didn't really suffer.) What suffered were the users shelling out ~$20/mo and wondering why they were getting pathetic throughput. Now, if AOL keeps the money, fine, whatever, they're a corp and can claim it for stockholders. But I would contend that everybody who pays a monthly bill to AOL is a form of stockholder as well [esp. when local ISPs only charge $10/mo.] -- and (given their chat-room atmosphere) AOL would do well to hold a sort of community rally. Maybe it's just $1 off everybody's bill for next month, (which is more than $600K, another reason AOL might as well keep the cash), but the community needs to know that something specific and good happened for them. /that's/ why AOL shouldn't view this as a financial victory, but rather as a chance for a PR coup.
  • by Tom Christiansen ( 54829 ) <tchrist@perl.com> on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @06:33AM (#1466531) Homepage
    We'd probably all like to see spammers go to jail, lose their jobs and homes, and probably get their teeth knocked out, too. But until and unless theirs a war-on-drugs level commitment to track down these criminal abusers, we have to do what we can by ourseles. I'd like to see an address in some crime investigation unit that you could forward spam to. The officials there would do the work of tracking down the criminal sender and then prosecuted to the fullest extent of the currently missing laws.

    You can do a lot to fight spam. Junkbusters [junkbusters.com] has a site devoted to getting these intrusions out of our lives. I've used their anti-junk snailmail system, and it really does work well. They've also got a nice page on stopping computer UBE crud [junkbusters.com], too.

    Personally, I never hide my mail address. It's dishonest, and, technically, against the rules. My real address, tchrist@perl.com [mailto], is sitting right here in this message, on the header for this comment, and is also posted in a hundred thousand different places--if not more. But you know what? I don't see much spam. I auto-bounce at least fifty pieces of spam per day. And most days, not more than a couple make it through -- but only once.

    Some of them get bounced using sendmail's anti-spam features [sendmail.org]. I'm a big fan of the Realtime Blackhole List [vix.com], which sendmail can be configured to access.

    Some spammage get bounced because the sender is on my own blacklist [perl.com] of forbidden addresses, which lately includes things like /\b\d+\.net/. Others are bounced because they look like spam [perl.com], or because they're mime-encrypted [perl.com]. This is all taken care of by a custom receiving program [perl.com], plus some other scripts to dynamically update the blacklist [perl.com].

    I don't automatically bounce mail that violates reasonable netiquette [perl.com], but I do have a periodic posting [perl.com] about the idiotic Jeopardy mail.

    And yes, now and then a few innocent men are sent to the gallows. This is the price we pay on the war against spam. If it's important, they'll figure out another way to mail me.

  • > Since the Defendants are
    > a) ignoring the order to cease and desist,
    > b) not co-operating with the process server,
    > and c) indicating they won't pay,

    Rule #1. Spammers lie. "I'll cease and desist" in a courtroom from a spammer means nothing.

    Rule #2. If it looks like a spammer's telling the truth, see Rule #1. (This is the mistake the judge was forced to make - believing them in court).

    Rule #3. Spammers are stupid. As evidenced by the three real-world behavior of Mr. Vale and company.

    Spammers are sociopaths - the law of the Internet ("Spam me and die") doesn't apply to them, so why should the law of a judge apply to them? Thankfully, in this case, Rule #3 may have some meatspace payback.

    > I hope the judge will find them in contempt of court and issue a bench warrent for their arrest. Let them get shome nice striped sunlight for a while.

    I concur. I, too, would pay good money to see Bubba the Butt Bandit abusing Vale's, uh, "apricot pits" nightly on a webcam. Hell, I'd buy myself a T-3 so I could get it in 640x480 with Dolby Surround Sound.

    Meanwhile, anyone remember whatever happened to TCPS and FPA, the Brooklyn spammers of "world's biggest gangbang video" and "are you being investigated" fame? I know they got their asses sued off, I just don't know where the cases are in the courts.

    Next up - Scumbag Sam the Toner Man. Your days are numbered, spambag. The law's catching up to you.

    SPUTUM [sputum.com] uber alles!

  • I say more power too the mega-corps with the $$$ to bust these spammer's asses. I'm tired of all this "I have free speech rights blah blah blah" ... "spamming is legal and moral blah blah blah" ... once you invade MY inbox, all bets are off pal.

    The fact that AOL nailed 'em on fraudulent use of the AOL.com domain in headers just goes to show how spammers will be forced out of business. This is common practice by almost all the spammers out there since they know their emails are hated by 99% of the users they hit and would rather NOT have it traced back to them. With more and more spammers getting busted for this practice, they'll have nothing to hide behind and YOU KNOW DAMN WELL that if they can't be anonymous frauds, 99% of existing spammers won't spam anymore.
  • by schon ( 31600 ) on Tuesday December 14, 1999 @06:57AM (#1466545)
    I just wish we could do something about all the telemarketers...in my opinion these people are far more annoying than spammers. At least spam doesn't start arguing with you when you hit "delete".

    I don't know where you're from, but where I live (Canada) there already are laws in place to limit what telemarketer's can do. (I'm not 100% sure, but I believe that the same applies to the US, as well.)

    In short, there are hours they are allowed to phone, and they are _NOT_ allowed to argue with you - as soon as you say "I'm not interested", they are legally required to say "goodbye" and hang up. If they start to argue with you, it's time to get the name of their company (via *59, if necessary) and file a complaint against them.

    You have rights, you just weren't aware of them.
  • that's about all I know to do.
    Last time w/ a note that I spend about 15 min/business day sorting thru the crap and asking if the total industry wide loss of productivity is worth what little revenues and taxes that spam generates.

  • I am a lawyer, but this is not legal advice. If you need that, see an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

    We don't really need new laws--trespass will do it (see my coment in the ebay section). However, "joinder" is an issue that needs a change either legislatively or through court rules. It's not worth suing over a single spam. On the other hand, if an ISP could go in with spam for ll of its subscribers at once, it could be efficient.

    Then again, an ISP might require an assignment of rights today to allow it to do this, crediting back part of the proceeds to subscribers' bills . . .

    hawk, esq.
  • Fine that it works for you, but it doesn't work for others. I am not located in the US (of course most of the spam I get comes from the US). I have to pay for local phone calls (and no, I can't afford my very own E1). Bouncing spam at my site of the wire is of no use, since at that point I have already paid for downloading it.
    You could still make sue of sendmail's anti-spam features. They don't require analysis of the entire body. They simply refuse the transaction. This is cheaper.

    You could also do local analysis to determine whether to discard or refile into a low priority mail-folder this incoming mail. This would be an alternative to bouncing it.

    I'm not saying I do not sympathize with your problem. I'm just saying that the techniques I mentioned still could be of some benefit to you.

  • I am a lawyer, but this isn't legal advice.

    By sending the spam into the U.S., the spammer has subjected itself to U.S. law, and potential judgments.

    Once a judgment is issued, *any* asset--such as the payments from the next round of spam, web banner royalties, credit card proceeds, and the like an be attached (seized) in payment of the judgment.
  • Fortunately, you put this on a computer screen, rather than on one of the microeconomics finals being filled out in front of me as I type--you would have failed my class :)

    That rates have dropped says *nothing* about whether prices are higher due to spam. Yes, they are lower than they used to be. This in no way suggests that prices would not be lower without spam, and very basic economics reveals that spam raises prices. The question isn't "are the prices higher?" but "how much higher are they?" (and maybe it's not enough to worry about.

    In any market with any competition between vendors, higher costs mean higher prices.

    hawk, writing as an economics professor this time
  • I am a lawyer, but this isn't legal advice. Etc.

    *all* that is required for a contract is offer and acceptance; not any exchange. These can take many forms, including aceptance by performance. It is *entirely* possible to have a contract that you accept by sending packets.

    hawk, esq.
  • This code doesn't even allow MIMEd Christmas Cards through!
    Gosh, you're right. It doesn't. Why, fancy that! Hint: this is not a bug, but a feature. I prefer that people ask for my permission before they go filling up my mail spool. Better yet, send me a hand-written Christmas card.
    And that netiquette checker is the most anal retentive thing I've ever read.
    You mean "the most anal-retentive thing" you've ever seen. :-)
    Nobody posts like that.
    What do you mean? Nobody posts using the crud that the checker looks for, or that nobody posts without using it? In either case, you really need to get out more.
  • Does this mean that I can sue traditional junk mailers for putting junk in my real mailbox? Can you sue me if I send you an email message that's *not* spam?

    This is why I think they do need laws. An activist court *could* try and draw analogies between current laws and the internet, but the internet is completely different.
  • I'm not suggesting analogies; I'm saying that current law applies in some of these cases. Sending a message through a server without at least implied permission is a trespass under current law.
  • > without at least implied permission

    But access to mail servers *is* implied. What's not clear is what legal mechanism exists for denying access someone to your public mail servers.

  • Yes, it would be wrong to spam the spammers. Consider everyone between your internet pipe and their internet pipes -- increasing network traffic to punish someone for wasting your time by increasing your traffic is slightly misguided.

    Personally, I prefer Spamcop [spamcop.net]. There's something satisfying about cancelling accounts.


  • Certainly Internet access has got cheaper for pretty much everyone. I wouldn't argue with that.

    The fact is, though, that every ISP I have worked at (and as a contractor, that's been several) over the last few years has had a large "abuse" department, staffed of necessity by people with a fair degree of experience, and sometimes manned 24-hrs a day.

    This costs money. I can tell you, in this country at least ISPs don't operate at sufficient profit margins to absorb that cost. And the spammers sure aren't paying for it. You are. I believe that ISP fees are higher today than they would have been without the coming of the spammers. I don't know how much we're talking about, probably a rather small amount, but all the same, non-zero.

  • For me the main point is, that the spammer pays the money! The only reason why there's more spam in my e-mail than in my regular mail is, that spamming on the internet costs next to nothing. The article stated, that Christian Brothers sent more than 20 million messages (and this is probably a very low estimate) which means that after paying $600.000 of fines each mail cost them only $0.03 ... looking at it like this the spammers still got a much cheaper service than via snail mail!
    And why shouldn't AOL get the money, at least it's their service that delivered the mail, and if the case serves as a deterrent to other spammers every internetuser gets something out of it. If customers of AOL want to get back the money they paid for downloading the spam they'll have to pay a lawyer themselves and try to organize a joint case via the net.
  • Where to start...

    The only way I can think of that you could be using the Internet without an agreement (and that's basically all a contract is) being in place would be if you owned the entire shabang.

    Assuming that you don't, in fact, own the entire Internet, you must be getting your connectivity from someone, probably an ISP though possibly your employer or educational establishment.

    If you get your access from an ISP, it's by agreement with them. In exchange for your money, they allow you to pass traffic across their network, subject to certain conditions. This is a contract. Even if it's not written down, it still exists, although not being written down makes it a lot harder for either party to enforce.

    If it's through your school or employer, it's buy agreement with them. You have an agreement with them covering your relationship - written or otherwise. It is almost certainly a term of that contract that you use their computer equipment, and their network, subject to their rules.

    The vast majority of Internet users will be connecting under an agreement which disallows them from sending spam.

    Of course, your ISP (or school; or employer; I'll simplify and just say ISP from now on) doesn't own the Internet either. They do, however, have connections into at least one other part of the Internet. And that connection is governed by an agreement; whether written or verbal, or even just implicit. Peering forms a contract. Almost all of the major "backbone" ISPs nowadays expect you to impose anti-spam conditions on *your* customers, and to have an efficient and effective abuse contact.

    You really should try to learn a little more about the technical and political structure of the Internet before you post. All it is, is lots independent networks who have agreed to a) use a common adressing plan and b) exchange traffic. The key word is "agreed". Where people have agreed to do something together, there's usually a contract formed.

  • I agree that AOL is not in itself evil, and perhaps it is even a useful service for a select subsection of the populace. I certainly wouldn't want to use it myself but I hold no grudges against AOL. I am super happy that the lawsuit was launched and even happier that it was won...it sets a wonderful precedent that could, in the future, lead to an (almost) spam free internet community.
  • >AOL Is not going to get a penny. Do you really think that these spammers have that kind of money?

    You're probably right. These mooks said they consulted their lawyer at each point, who if effect told them ``don't bother responding. They can't do anything to you."

    On the other hand, evading paying of a debt will get them into trouble: AOL can sell the debt to another group of bottomfish, who will eager spend the next few years harassing them (perhaps in the form of **SPAM**?) until they pay up. Even if they go bankrupt, the judgement will stand for several years.

  • maybe they used the consumers monthly serivce fees.

    If my ISP was going to use my monthly fees to shutdown spammers more power to them! Whenever I get spam at my school address I'm lucky if the school does a thing about it.

    Washington state even has laws against spam and they do nothing. At $1000 a hit, this kind of cash could be the amount of a damages award rather than civil litigation.

    Free speech is one thing. You can shout whatever you want from the street corner, but you can't call people up at home (not more than once at least if they say so). With virtually infinite e-mail addresses (or even billions of domain names) any "one warning" e-mail anti-spam or anti-harassment laws can be rendered ineffective.

    Advertisement has it's place, banners, search engines, even unmoderated newsgroups would be better than my mailbox.

  • My fax machine got spammed yesterday for the first time. I remembered that, unlike email spam, fax spam is explicitly illegal, so I went looking around to try and see what to do about this. I found this [fcc.gov] document on the FCC site.

    The bottom line is, you're screwed.

    While it is illegal for someone to spam your fax machine, there is realistically not a damned thing you can do about it. You can personally take them to small-claims court for up to $500, but that would take forever, and so few people will ever actually do that that spammers will feel free to do their thing with impunity.

    They do mention an ``opt out'' list you can have yourself added to, but of it they say:

    DMA commercially publishes and markets lists of consumers who do not wish to receive solicitation calls.

    Which sounds to me like the DMA sells this list to spammers. So we're to believe that there are spammers out there who would pay money for a list of people who do not want to receive their services. Huh? Forgive me if I have a hard time seeing the motivation there.

  • But I Might Talk A Lotta Shit? ;-)
  • > at the very least, *most* (not all) phone solicitors in the States need to maintain a "don't call" list.

    But there is specific legislation that requires this. There is currently no such legislation for email. The courts did not mandate don't call lists, the legislature did.
  • The trouble with this is that you'd have to contact the spammers to tell them not to call again. I don't have any figures but I would be surprised if more than half of 'opt out' spammer addresses were legit, so it seems likely that contacting the spammers at all is the worst thing you could do. I am pretty visible on the net but do not ever respond to 'remove me' ploys, and I get a fairly limited load of spam.

    What do I do with it? http://spamcop.net/ [spamcop.net]. I own airwindows.com, so the address I sign to my reports is postmaster@airwindows.com, which I think is a nice touch (yes, I do get that mail). I've killed sixteen spammer's accounts, and that's only the instances where I was told directly by the ISP that the account was killed.

    I really _like_ knowing that I killed sixteen spammers' accounts through personal action (with much help from spamcop). If you spam me you are taking a definite risk. I'm not a safe dude to spam. >:)

  • I'd separate chain letters from UCE. To me there's a really substantial difference between commercial spam and commercial spammers, and people being idiots. I'm constantly annoyed and driven to distraction (maybe not _constantly_) by people, particularly friends, being idiots and forwarding lists of jokes or chain letters or chain 'inspiring emails' etc. ad nauseam. Yet for commercial Email I go after the spammers and try to get their accounts pulled (have killed 16 as of today), something which I would never do to a poor newbie fool forwarding stupid things because they don't know any better.
  • I refuse nothing. It's just that if what I get is spam, I will be taking some time out of my day to use the great spam-tracking resources we have available, use my attention to discern if it's a mistake or false alarm (something that really does rate a human attention to check out) and if all systems are go, the admins in control of EVERY POINT OF CONTACT (the true source email addresses, the 'remove me' addresses for harvesting 'live ones' and even web sites that are clearly spam oriented) are asked to kill the accounts.

    I've killed sixteen. I'm prouder of this than my slashdot karma ;)

    So it's fine to use technological means to haven from spam, but personally, I will always choose to be down there in the trenches :) for every means to be shielded from spam, there's an equally convenient and effective means to track it and take action against the responsible ISPs. I _especially_ enjoy attacking the ones that make a big fuss about how legal they are being, citing legal-sounding legislation about how they're allowed to do this. They don't seem to understand that they're not dialling in to their government, they're dialling into ISPs to spam. Their ignorance does not save them >:)

  • I've gotten at least one of those addresses _killed_, so it'll only bounce. So your giving it to other spammers isn't really helping much as the account is already dead :) why not learn how to responsibly use a tracking service such as http://spamcop.net/ [spamcop.net]?

    BAntiSpammerFH motto: "Why hide from spam when you can go out and have the spammers killed?" :) (please don't be a fscking idiot about it, tho- forwarded lists of jokes are not commercial spam, they are some friend of yours being a luser. Spam goes to huge monster lists of addresses, it's not merely email you don't like.)

  • permission to send me personal email is certainly implied. Permission to send me spam is *not* implied by custom. Permission to use my cerver to send *other* people spam in contravention of established norms of behavior can't even be argued to be implied, and is certainly trespass.
  • > Permission to send me spam is *not* implied by custom.

    That's arguable. *I* certainly don't want spam, but I know some people that actually do. I don't mind commercial email, as long as I signed up for it.

    Spam can also be difficult to define. If I publish my email address on open web forums (like this one), I'm clearly inviting people that I have not previously met to send me email if they like. I reserve the right to ignore it, or even delete it unseen. What would distinguish you from sending me email to continue this discussion from a commercial entity sending me email asking me if I'd be interested in one of their products that may somehow relate to this conversation?

    The only question is when unsolicited email becomes "spam". There are clearly many cases that clearly cross the line, but if you try and use the judicial process to claim that "spam" is trespass, then you've cut off your nose to spite your face. It will become questionable if I can send you email to continue this discussion, even though your email address is at the top of my screen.

    If regulations come from the legislature, the line can hopefully be drawn more clearly (even though I'm skeptical about any legislatures ability to do so).

    > Permission to use my server to send *other* people spam ...

    Not sure exactly what you mean here. By definition, any email sent to me goes across someone else's server (my ISP's, for example).

    If I give accounts on my server to the public, I think a Terms of Service contract is more enforceable than claiming trespass if they use it to send spam.

    If a spammer, like Christian Brothers, is simply forging headers to *appear* to be from AOL, they aren't "trespassing" any more than if they weren't forging headers, but they are misrepresenting themselves (fraud) and using AOL's name (trademark violation).

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus