April 29, 2005
Spammers Can't Hide Behind Affiliates
Microsoft is proving that persistence pays off in the legal battle against spam.
As I report today in a new article for O'Reilly Network, Microsoft has scored a legal victory against Robert Soloway and his company, Newport Internet Marketing, alleged by Spamhaus to be one of the top ten spam operations in the world.
A King County (Washington) superior court judge awarded Microsoft a default judgment in the suit, originally filed December 18, 2003. Soloway had tried to dance around the complaint, placing blame on spam affiliates. But the court reaffirmed a key provision in CAN-SPAM and in Washington State's spam statute: You don't have to push the send button to be liable for illegal spam.
We'll have to wait for the dust to settle on this one, not to mention on the Richter lawsuit. (Soloway offered me this provocative if puzzling quote: "They have no case, and I can honestly say with the utmost confidence that there will not be a monetary damage awarded.")
But if Microsoft comes through, I may have to change my opinion about how Bill Gates is losing the war on spam.
(BTW, that pic above is of Microsoft's top spam lawyer, Aaron Kornblum. Soloway declined to provide a photo.)
Posted by brian at April 29, 2005 7:00 PM
"But the court reaffirmed a key provision in CAN-SPAM"
Thank you for bringing this up! This is the language which Aunty Spam helped to author with Senator McCain's office, and which became known as "the McCai amendment" to CAN-SPAM, and it was authored specifically with affiliate spam in mind..it basically says that if you profit from the sending of spam, you're on the hook even if you didn't yourself press "send'.
It's a very powerful tool which has gotten almost no press..very few people are aware of it..so thank you again for noticing!
Posted by: Aunty Spam at April 30, 2005 1:33 AM
It's easy to win cases when no one shows up in court. The rulings they have been given are unchallanged by any one.
Posted by: Tom at April 30, 2005 2:56 AM
Exactly, this wouldn't stand if there was a proper thinking merchant who could ensure that their connection to spam was clean.
Like the current mortgage spams going out, the benificiary of the spam (commercially) is eLeadz.com but I doubt if a case was brought against them that his "if you didn't press the button you may still be liable" junk that's floating around will stand up.
Posted by: Pavan at May 2, 2005 12:54 AM