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Spamhaus Fine Reduced From $11.7M To $27K

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the one-month's-beer-budget dept.

Government 378

eldavojohn writes "In 2006, anti-spam crusader Spamhaus was sued for 'defamation, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage and interference with existing contracts' after blocking 'promotional e-mails' from e360. What with the case being in Illinois and Spamhaus being a British outfit, Spamhaus didn't bloody care. So, e360 was awarded $11.7 million in damages, which was later thrown out in an appeals court with a request for the lower court to come up with actual damage estimates instead of the ridiculous $11.7 million. (e360 had originally stated $135M, then $122M, and then $30M as sums of damages.) As a result, the actual damages were estimated to be just $27,002. While this is a massive reduction in the fine and a little bit more realistic, I think it is important to note that Spamhaus is a service that people proactively utilize. They don't force you to use their anti-spam identification system — it's totally opt-in. And now they're being fined what a foreign judge found to be 'one month of additional work on behalf of the customers' to a company they allegedly incorrectly identified as spam. Sad and scary precedent."

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What's more outrageous... (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591022)

is that e360 managed to judge-shop to find a judge so fucking stupid that he didn't simply and correctly say "fuck you, piss off and take your nuisance lawsuit with you, SPAMMER."

Re:What's more outrageous... (5, Insightful)

Fringe (6096) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591074)

He didn't have any alternative; SpamHaus didn't show. The judge isn't allowed to take sides or consider evidence that wasn't presented. If this wasn't the case, you would never be able to successfully sue for redress; the other side could simply fail to show up.

Re:What's more outrageous... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591150)

He didn't have any alternative; SpamHaus didn't show. The judge isn't allowed to take sides or consider evidence that wasn't presented.

If this wasn't the case, you would never be able to successfully sue for redress; the other side could simply fail to show up.

No the problem was they initially turned up and then walked out. No precedent, no story. Spamhaus/their lawyers f**ked up, the result was they had to pay a spammer for the f**kup. If they hadn't showed in the first place there would have been no judgement and no jurisdiction.

Re:What's more outrageous... (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591356)

I didn't know they originally did show up. It makes sense that if somebody sues you in some country where you don't live nor have any legal presence, they can just go screw themselves until they finally decide to sue you on your home turf.

Re:What's more outrageous... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591580)

They did not "originally show up". Get your facts straight.

Re:What's more outrageous... (4, Interesting)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591510)

Actually the judge could have taken a side when e360 Insight got the case admitted by falsifying the record that Spamhaus was in fact an Illinois company. He/She could have easily thrown it out right there.

Re:What's more outrageous... (3, Informative)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591704)

From what I remember, that's not what happened. They testified that Spamhaus was conducting business in Illinois. Which they were, since they were providing their service to people and businesses in Illinois. The judge did the right thing by applying the law and not what Skuld-Chan thinks is "common sense".

Judges don't have to find against in absentia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591584)

Judges don't have to find against in absentia. for example, if George Bush is brought to a court to answer against me for sexual abuse charges and George (unsurprisingly) doesn't turn up, then he's not found guilty because

a) I've not shown any abuse
b) The court has no jurisdiction

Re:Judges don't have to find against in absentia (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591638)

But you're talking about criminal law and not civil law. There is a difference you know?

Re:Judges don't have to find against in absentia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591760)

So what if that AC randomly sues him for emotional distress?

Re:What's more outrageous... (1)

dbialac (320955) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591418)

"They don't force you to use their anti-spam identification system — it's totally opt-in."

Back when they started they did. Spamhaus started out extorting ISPs and forcing them to use their services. If you didn't you would stay blocked until you did. I was working at an ISP in the 90's that was forced into using Spamhaus.

The reality is, like it or not US law doesn't allow us to be vigilantes and go out and make up laws. For now we live in an opt-out world and interfering with lawful commerce is illegal even if you don't like the commercial activity. Anti-abortion protesters must stay back from clinics. Environmental protesters must not destroy oil rigs. Etc., etc., etc.

Re:What's more outrageous... (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591690)

Environmental protesters must not destroy oil rigs

... but petrol companies can...

Keep calm and carry on (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591034)

I hope they continue to ignore the judgement. In fact, I'm a bit disappointed the original judgement was even dignified with an appeal.

Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (5, Interesting)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591064)

Spamhaus, like any other RBL, has a removal procedure that e360 could have used. Provided e360 could prove they weren't spammers Spamhaus likely would have removed them from the database without issue and without cost.

So why didn't e360 try that? I see no info that they tried that at all. (Likely because they couldn't prove they weren't spamming people.) Instead they just sued Spamhaus in an effort to dry them up and get them out of the way.

As the summary pointed out Spamhaus is a voluntary service. Nobody is being forced to use Spamhaus. So why on earth should Spamhaus be forced to pay any damages at all? It's just insane that upon going through the court system _twice_ someone didn't ask "Well e360 can you prove you aren't spamming people?".

Anecdotal note: Many many moons ago there used to be an RBL named the BLARS Block List.

What Blars (yes it was a handle for an actual person) would do is block whole netblocks and then anybody who would complain he'd charge $250/hour to get removed IF he chose to do so. And you would be charged the fee even if he chose not to unblock you. So looking at that right there shows you what I consider the openly worst of behavior for an RBL service. Spamhaus is definitely not that.

No, they weren't right to ignore it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591162)

At least, not if they care about having default judgments filed against them in the US.

If you're served with a lawsuit, you need to respond to protect yourself. Even if it's not fair that you're being sued in the first place, even if the other guy is full of shit. That's how the legal system in the US works.

Re:No, they weren't right to ignore it (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591230)

OTOH the legal fees could have reached the new lower fine anyway, which may be why they thought it wasn't worth it.

let's all send 'promotional emails' to e360! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591378)

I agree,

let's all send 'promotional emails' to e360!

but seriously, WTF!?
Thanks to spamhaus (and some other rbls) my servers are for 99% spamless, they should give a fine to e360 for spamming, oh sorry it's 'promotional emails', like those who 'promote' all kinds of pharmaceutical products....

Re:Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (2, Interesting)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591392)

I support anti-spam efforts, but I support the rule of law more. So:

Complaining about how the court handled the case shows you're ignoring one key fact: Spamhaus chose not to appear in court, and by doing so tied the court's hands. Bottom line, although you might want to evaluate this on the assumption that e360 really was spamming, when only one party shows up, the court must take that party's story at face value and cannot make assumptions about whether that party might really be telling half-truths.

Spamhaus made a choice to say "we don't care about IL court"; well, that has benefits and costs. They get the benefits (don't have to bother with the expense of the trial), so it's a pretty crappy attitude to complain that they also must bear the costs (the case is evaluated not on its merits as would be found at trial, but on the basis of e360's side of the story). Looking at it from the perspective the court has to take, then:

I'm having trouble seeing the relevance of the fact that Spamhaus is a voluntary service. I suppose their liability would be greater if they somehow blocked traffic between two parties without having any relationship with either party; but just because the recipient chose to use their service doesn't necessarily releive them of liability for the consequences of their service being used. If I hire a security guard and he beats up a passer-by, does he escape liability because I chose to hire him? (And again, I'm sure you wish to point out the differences you perceive between e360 and an innocent passer-by, but the court cannot consider those assumptions since Spamhaus didn't show up in court to argue them.)

Additionally, it may be that Spamhaus has its own resolution procedure for those who claim they aren't spamming, but a private company's policies cannot trump civil law. It might be polite to try their procedure first, but it is not mandatory.

And finally, what does the fact that other RBL's have behaved worse have to do with anything? "Yeah, Bob punched someone in the face, but Bill over here beat people with lead pipes! Why should we worry about Bob?"

Those arguments might not hold up if all the facts were revealed; in which case it's too bad Spamhaus opted not to pursue the trial and get those facts on the record.

Re:Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591478)

I get it. So, we should all sue the spammers from mexico or anywhere but the usa, and make them pay penalties there!

Re:Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591480)

So firstly criminal law doesn't come in here so your story about beating up a passer-by is not accurate.

Secondly, the US law doesn't apply to the rest of the world. Spamhaus chose not to appear in court because they:

1 - Weren't even in america
2 - Weren't doing anything illegal in their own country.

Since you support the rule of law I fully expect you to also support the deportation of Americans to the middle east to be put on trial for whatever stupid laws they have over there that don't apply to the US.

Re:Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591696)

You don't think there are civil penalties for beating someone up? Might want to fact-check that one, chief.

Spamhaus was acting in America regardless of where their offices are. They are subject to U.S. law, just as Google is subject to Chinese law if/when they operate in China (to cite just one recent example of many).

Re:Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (4, Informative)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591682)

You can argue about them not showing up in court all you want but they did not show up in court because they knew the Illinois court had NO jurisdiction on their actions. Read their take on it here:

http://www.spamhaus.org/organization/statement.lasso?ref=3

Then read a breakdown from 2006 by Groklaw here:

http://www.groklaw.net/articlebasic.php?story=2006102700261694

Spamhaus is a FOREIGN company doing business on FOREIGN land. They have no need to show up for a court appearance in what amounts to a provincial court in another country.

If e360 had been based in Upper Monrovia or some similarly remote place other than the US this would have never have flown. And even if it had flown due to judge-shopping they would still be right to ignore it due to jurisdiction. The only reason this has gotten this far is that the US court system is broken and arrogant enough to think it applies to the entire world.

Got a problem with a foreign company doing business on their own soil? Take it up with your government. _Your_ courts have no jurisdiction to prosecute.

Re:Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591718)

ignoring illinois' court system has ZERO costs. No jurisdiction, period. end of story.

Re:Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591778)

thank god people like you know about the rule of law.

the governors of the states of the republic of the u.s. got together last year and had a little shindig. they passed 40,000 new laws for 2009.

your ignorance of those 40,000 new laws would not stand up in court.

neither would ignorance of the hundreds of thousands of previous laws that exist.

it wouldn't take but 5 minutes for me to find enough on your mom to put her away in a dark cell for about 500 years.

Re:Spamhaus was right to ignore it... (1)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591650)

Nobody is being forced to use Spamhaus.

Irrelevant. Nobody is forced to read the newspaper. The newspaper publisher can still be held liable for slander and libel.

So why on earth should Spamhaus be forced to pay any damages at all?

Duh. They lost the case. Even if they had showed up to defend the suit, they may still have lost. Losers pay. Otherwise, what is the point of civil lawsuits?

It's just insane that upon going through the court system _twice_ someone didn't ask "Well e360 can you prove you aren't spamming people?".

A civil court is not allowed to press criminal charges against the plaintiff. Is that really what you think should have happened? That's the DA's job. It would be a separate case in any event, unrelated to this one.

On the fence (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591068)

Well, I mean, the reason e360 got awarded anything is because Spamhaus "Didn't Bloody Care".

So I mean, yeah, its scary that they lost a case where essentially they incorrectly identified spam (an easy mistake), for an opt in service no less. But its not that scary when you hear that they didn't do anything to defend themselves.

If you are on a golf course, looking back at the tee-box, and someone yells, "FOOUR" at you - what do you do?

Re:On the fence (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591116)

So I mean, yeah, its scary that they lost a case where essentially they incorrectly identified spam (an easy mistake) ...

Who decided that they were incorrectly identified as spam? From the article:

e360 claimed that about 3 billion of the more than 6.6 billion emails it sent on behalf of clients

Please do tell me what kind of business (one that I've never heard of, mind you) sends out e-mails totaling the world's population and in what manner is that legitimate?

Curiously, nowhere does e360 have to defend this action. So, yeah, you can be on the fence if you think that any spammer should be able to sue Spamhaus (a free service) in any country on the globe and expect Spamhaus to front money for representation and whatnot in all those countries. Sounds like a pretty good strategy for spammers to take out Spamhaus since it's probably a growing thorn in their side.

As the submitter, that's where I stand on this issue.

Re:On the fence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591166)

Why do you think that categorizing a business as a spammer should be more protected under the law than any other claim you might make against that business in, say, a blog post?

Re:On the fence (4, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591300)

Curiously, nowhere does e360 have to defend this action.

It's not curious, Spamhaus didn't show up for court. The only evidence the court had to go by was e360's. It doesn't matter if a second grader could refute the evidence, there was nobody there to refute it.

e360 basically won by default.

Re:On the fence (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591400)

    I won't argue that e360 are spammers. Anyone sending billions of promotional emails on behalf of anyone is clearly sending spam.

    My question is, is Spamhaus the one who once you were on their list for whatever arbitrary reason, you couldn't ask, beg, or pay to get off of it, and used arbitrarily large blocks to accomplish it (like /8's in a few circumstances)? Looking at their site, you can now, but was that the situation when the lawsuit began? I know most were cooperative, but a few weren't. I knew someone who was written up in the WSJ, and because of that article every network they had was listed in a blacklist. It didn't have anything to do with the content of their messages going out, it was only to do with the writeup. My apologies if I'm remember the wrong list, which is why I'm asking.

Re:On the fence (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591420)

While I agree they are spammers, thats just how the law works.

If I start a case against you for libel and slander against me, and the only evidence is that which I propose - the courts are going to have a hard time siding with you if you don't make any acknowledgement of it what so ever.

Re:On the fence (1)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591560)

Please do tell me what kind of business (one that I've never heard of, mind you) sends out e-mails totaling the world's population and in what manner is that legitimate?

e360 sends campaigns on behalf of many, many clients who hire them to do it. It's their business model. Any one of their clients sending that many emails in would be pretty far outside the norm. And also, let me remind you that a recipient can receive more than one email, so comparing it to the population of the earth is pretty ridiculous. The world rice production in 2004 was 6-00 million tons. But people didn't eat it all at one sitting, so it was OK. Same with 6.6 billion mails. The number alone doesn't really say much.

Curiously, nowhere does e360 have to defend this action. /i?

Curiously, it's legal to send emails. Why should they have to defend a legal action? If you think they have broken US law concerning unsolicited email, there are remedies and causes of action you can assert. Have at it.

Re:On the fence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591156)

If you are on a golf course, looking back at the tee-box, and someone yells, "FOOUR" at you - what do you do?

I look puzzled then carry on walking.

Re:On the fence (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591354)

Well, I mean, the reason e360 got awarded anything is because Spamhaus "Didn't Bloody Care".

They didn't care, because they're a British company not under the jurisdiction of a US court on the matter. They basically said "please fuck off" and walked out. From one of the links ...

Default judgments obtained in US county, state or federal courts have no validity in the UK and can not be enforced under the British legal system... As spamming is illegal in the UK, an Illinois court ordering a British organization to stop blocking incoming Illinois spam in Britain goes contrary to UK law which orders all spammers to cease sending spam in the first place.

In other words, you have no jurisdiction to impose any penalty on us for doing something perfectly legal where we conduct business. In fact, they were helping to prevent e360 from doing something which was illegal in Britain.

Which makes sense. Because, really, if you get notified that someone in Bahrain has given summary judgement against you for violating one of their laws, are you going to show up?

Goodluckwiththat (5, Interesting)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591080)

Spamhaus is as likely to pay $27K as LimeWire is to pay $1.5 trillion.

Just another example (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591084)

Just another example that the American Civil court system has lost all touch with reality and is just a bunch of lawyers working the system to make a buck for themselves.

My Support (2, Insightful)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591086)

Spamhaus has my ultimate support. What a colossal waste of the taxpayers money by e360 trying to sue a foreign, non-profit company for allegedly interfering with commerce. All Spamhaus has to do is tell e360 to go piss up a rope, which they in effect, did. Did e360 stop them, hell no!

Re:My Support (2, Informative)

Nematode (197503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591326)

The amount of taxpayer money involved in having a court enter a default judgment is effectively zero.

There's a little bit of time for the court clerk to enter the case on the docket, then the default judgment is signed. Not much more to it than that.

Re:My Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591486)

I think you severly underestimate the amount of time all those people involved had to come up with. You can't just pluck dates and available court rooms out of thin air; plus the whole bureaucratic mess that's involved.

Judging from the story it went through several rounds; what with appeals and all. So my guess is, the taxpayer is short a few tens of thousands $ due to this.

Re:My Support (2, Informative)

Nematode (197503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591572)

I'm not underestimating it. If no answer is filed to a complaint, a default judgment takes about as few of the court resources as is possible. The clerk receives a complaint. The clerk enters a little data into the system, stamps the summons, and puts it back in the mail to the plaintiff. When the proof of service is received, that's put in the file. When the default judgment request comes in, the clerk stamps that, updates the system to reflect entry of the judgment, and then it's done.

In the unlikely event that the cumulative civil servant time involved in this case reached "a few tens of thousands of dollars" (and having read the procedural history, I'd guess it was more like a few hundred dollars), that would be....Spamhaus' doing, for having the case moved from the state court to the federal court, then showing up at a hearing to withdraw its answer.

I'm not at all sympathetic to the spammer here, but...this whole thing is a little ado about nothing. Random spammer gets an unenforceable default judgment. The amount of skin off of the backs of anyone reading this article is so negligible as to be effectively zero.

Re:My Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591344)

Spamhaus will pay or the will find themselves in court in the UK for a bankruptcy hearing.

Re:My Support (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591636)

My god, you're an idiot. You don't even know what the conversation is about. Please shut up while the grown-ups are talking.

Spam/reviews (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591090)

Sure, someone needs to decide to use the service.

People need to decide to utilize product reviews, but that doesn't mean people are allowed to post factually incorrect information in a review and claim that they get a free pass because only the people acting on the review have any responsibility for action/loss of reputation/etc.

(not commenting on the merits of this case in particular)

Re:Spam/reviews (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591406)

why the hell not?

as much as people may not like it that people "post factually incorrect information in a review" there's nothing stopping somebody from doing such?

if I provide a "this is what I know about X" review to somebody and offer the review as a free service, people better expect that: you get what you pay for

All emails from e360 should be blacklisted (5, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591094)

After reading about this law suit we need a new blacklist category for people to opt into. Dirtbag companies who sue too much. e360 can then top the list. Who wants to do business with a company that sues like this? Personally I would be happy to opt into a blacklist containing the likes of MPAA, RIAA, e360, patent trolls, and other companies who abuse the legal system. Regardless of the lawsuit I would want my email service to block e360 emails.

Re:All emails from e360 should be blacklisted (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591124)

What other domains does e360 use to send its spam? Me thinks I'll add them to my OpenBSD traplist.

Re:All emails from e360 should be blacklisted (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591256)

A fine idea. it could be referred to as an "opt in" list of people who want their "services".

Honesty is punishable, therefore creative dishonesty is a reasonable response.

Re:All emails from e360 should be blacklisted (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591374)

have fun with that. blocking e360 will definitely be devastating to their business, since they went bankrupt and shut down two years ago.

e360 (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591108)

will never see a dime. It cost them more to litigate then they earned from the judgement

Meanwhile, Google etc. rename Spam to Folder (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591110)

What a shitty precedent. I guess Google etc. will need to rename the spam folder to something like "folder", so that they can't be sued for filtering out stuff. "Your honor, our software didn't say these items were spam. In fact, it merely put them into a folder titled 'folder'. It's up to each user how to interpret what that title means."

Re:Meanwhile, Google etc. rename Spam to Folder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591254)

What a shitty precedent.

There's no precedent [wikipedia.org] . The original case wasn't even contested.

Re:Meanwhile, Google etc. rename Spam to Folder (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591620)

i'd love to see a spammer company go up against google...

If google doesnt buy them out ouright (and fire every single employee), they will just open up such a big can of lawyers, their documents will blot out the sun...

Honestly, i appreciate the whole 'Do no evil' mantra, but when it comes to these kind of douche-bags, Google can go nuts!

It's their own damn fault (1)

Etcetera (14711) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591132)

You don't just get to decide for yourself *after you've already begun the process* that it no longer applies to you. Once you start showing up to court, you have to continue showing up... except in the very rare case where you're provisionally appearing strictly for the purpose of debating proper jurisdiction. This is like saying "time out... hold on, have we started playing the game yet?".

After you submit to jurisdiction, it takes a judge's ruling to say you're not. If you just stop showing up the judge has no choice but to rule in the other guy's favor in a civil case. If I were the judge, I'd probably add a "stupid tax" to your damages too.

Re:It's their own damn fault (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591192)

Once you start showing up to court, you have to continue showing up... except in the very rare case where you're provisionally appearing strictly for the purpose of debating proper jurisdiction.

I thought that's exactly what Spamhaus did.

Re:It's their own damn fault (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591236)

Suppose a defendant shows up every day and loses the case in a court with jurisdiction in country A.

Suppose the defendant does not live in or operate in country A. Suppose the defendant leaves country A and never comes back.

How is the ruling going to be enforced?

Re:It's their own damn fault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591308)

After you submit to jurisdiction, it takes a judge's ruling to say you're not.

Only if you live in america. The US doesn't control the world and certainly have no say in what UK organisations can or can't do, which includes making a mockery of your courts.

Re:It's their own damn fault (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591432)

I second you there.

nobody in their right mind would expect that a lawyer showing up to a courthouse to say: "what the hell are you doing? maybe try going to the country these people are from to sue them. see how well that goes" means they "submit to jurisdiction".

It isn't a fine. (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591134)

It is a damage award, and probably less than the plaintiffs paid their lawyers. It also isn't a "scary precedent". It isn't a precedent at all: it's what normally happens when you fail to show up and present your case.

> ...foreign judge...

So you feel that a USA court should refuse to hear a case brought by a USA plaintiff just because the defendent is foreign?

If Spamhaus had bothered to show up and present a defense they could have gotten the case dismissed with prejudice and had a good shot at being awarded fees and expenses.

Re:It isn't a fine. (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591274)

Excuse me... I'm British and I want to sue you in a British court for something that isn't illegal in the US. The fact that you've never set foot in Britain doesn't matter. Get your arse over here within the next three weeks or I'll award me some of your money (which I can't force you to hand over either, and which has never been held in Britain) in your absence.

Does that make more sense to you with the positions reversed?

If you want to sue someone, you have to prove that they are conducting business in an area, that within that area they are breaking the law, and that they know that and can attend your court case. Otherwise, you're just making an *international* arse of yourself. It's a British company, operating in solely British territory, doing something that is perfectly legal in Britain. Why you think they should even ever have responded to the case is beyond me. It's called "jurisdiction" and never has the word applied more.

Otherwise every crankpot will sue every foreign company on trumped-up charges, the companies might never attend the court in question because they would have to travel and/or hire representation, that the offence they are charged with might not even be illegal in their jurisdiction and yet, in their absence, you think that the case should default in your favour.

I hereby sue Microsoft (US) for failing to offer Windows XP N (The EU edition) in their jurisdiction, or the US Customs for breaching the EU data protection laws that they never agree to abide by. If they don't appear in court, I win by default? Pfft.

Re:It isn't a fine. (1)

Loadmaster (720754) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591424)

You do win by default. If you are sued by someone in a jurisdiction that you know doesn't actually have jurisdiction over you, like in this case, you have two options. 1. make a "special appearance" simply to tell the court you have no jurisdiction over us. 2. Don't show up and face a default judgment. Option 1 makes the court decide whether they are the proper venue at all. If they decide you are then the case goes on and you must appear. If not then the case is over. Option 2 means you will lose by default; however, if someone tries to make you pay the fine then you still can claim the court lacks jurisdiction and we go back to 1. In this case if the court finds affirmatively you owe that money. If they don't then you're free and clear with minimal legal fees.

In re Spamhaus it means Spamhaus won't ever have to pay as long as they never move any operations to the US. If they do then they'll just claim the court lacked jurisdiction.

Don't confuse the ability to sue with the ability to collect.

Re:It isn't a fine. (1)

Nematode (197503) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591428)

Before you can get a judgment against someone (at least in the US), the court has to have "personal jurisdiction" over them, and they have to be served with the summons and complaint.

The problem in this case is that Spamhaus was sued in some random Illinois state court. Apparently it was served with the complaint, because it then appeared, and had the case removed to federal court. It then filed an answer to the complaint, before withdrawing the answer and not responding any further.

Once Spamhaus was involved enough to remove the case to federal court, and file an answer, it had already submitted to the personal jurisdiction of the trial court, to justify entry of judgment. That's a very different scenario from what you're describing.

you'd have a point, except that you don't (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591492)

You'd have a point, except that in this case you don't.

Spamhaus did initially show up, which was an acknowledgement that the US court has jurisdiction. Had Spamhaus either entirely ignored the suit or stayed to convince the judge that they were a wholly foreign corporation with no US presence, that'd be fine. But they half-assed it, and so the judge had to provide a ruling; absent any representation for Spamhaus, a default damage award was entered.

Re:It isn't a fine. (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591526)

It's a British company, operating in solely British territory, doing something that is perfectly legal in Britain. Why you think they should even ever have responded to the case is beyond me. It's called "jurisdiction" and never has the word applied more.

Did this British company have any users of its service in the United States? I'm not a lawyer, but I'm sure a clever one could try and make a case for jurisdiction based on Spamhaus offering its services to Americans. Something along the lines of "Your honor, Spamhaus has admitted that thousands of companies in the United States currently employ its services in operating their mail servers. By this very admission, Spamhaus conducts business in the United States. Although it may not charge for these services, [some legal citation] clearly indicates that money need not exchange hands for a foreign entity to be shown to operate within American borders."

I hope they wouldn't succeed in successfully arguing American jurisdiction, but I don't think it's as clear as you indicate.

Re:It isn't a fine. (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591276)

Why should they bother exactly? My understanding is that even if they loose it makes no difference to them because they're not even in the US.

Do you really think they're taking this seriously? It's just another one of those lolamerica stories we hear over here.

Re:It isn't a fine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591362)

What does them untightening something have to do with it?

Oh good, nice logic (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591280)

Hence forth every US citizen will have to travel ANYWHERE in the world were ANYONE at all chooses to sue them for ANYTHING at all.

This new law co-signed by the travel industry who would love to voice their support but are to busy singing "we're in the money, we're in the money".

If you disagree with this new law then you are saying John Hasler is a twit.

Re:It isn't a fine. (2, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591286)

"So you feel that a USA court should refuse to hear a case brought by a USA plaintiff just because the defendent is foreign?"

No, but when the defendant is foreign and the defendant's actions took place on foreign soil, it seems a bit silly to try the defendant in a US court of law. Why not try the defendant in the jurisdiction where the defendant's actions actually took place, under the laws of that jurisdiction?

Re:It isn't a fine. (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591520)

"So you feel that a USA court should refuse to hear a case brought by a USA plaintiff just because the defendent is foreign?"

Technically no. it should go before the judge.

if this company has proceeded though the required order of things to incite a a case, a judge should get to see it.

the judge should then immediately proceed to file charges from the government against the plaintiff for waisting the court's time for not understanding that suing a British business for doing something you don't like and that's not illegal in Britain is not illegal in the united states, and thus not punishable in the united states.

Where the action is aimed. (3, Informative)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591744)

Part of the theory is that you direct harm to a jurisdiction, you are subject to that jurisdiction. See Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 783 (1984). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calder_v._Jones [wikipedia.org]

Now if you are in Spam, hijack a system in Korea to send spam to China, where should you be liable?

Re:It isn't a fine. (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591588)

So you feel that a USA court should refuse to hear a case brought by a USA plaintiff just because the defendent is foreign?

Yes actually - a state court should refuse a case with a foreign litigant that does zero business in that state. They aren't support to take on cases like that. E360 Insight submitted a false report when they told the court that Spamhaus operated in Illinois.

The shape of things to come.. (1)

uslurper (459546) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591178)

With so many new internet and computing technologies emerging, and with the spin of legal jargon, it's no wonder that judges really dont know how to rule.

I expect more of these types scratch-your-head judgments until the courts get a junk-mail bin for their cases.

Re:The shape of things to come.. (1)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591266)

With so many new internet and computing technologies emerging, and with the spin of legal jargon, it's no wonder that judges really dont know how to rule.

I expect more of these types scratch-your-head judgments until the courts get a junk-mail bin for their cases.

When I think we'll finally start to see some sanity in all this is when the people of the next generation who are more tech savvy get into judicial positions. They will have grown up all their lives with technology and and have at least some idea how it works. Then we'll likely start to see less of these odd judgments.

Wow, impressive. (2, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591220)

I want a job where I get $27k for a month. ... But not if I have to be an OBVIOUS SPAMMER to do it, like e360, because I have ethics, unlike e360.

Re:Wow, impressive. (2, Interesting)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591604)

Keeping in mind the original lawsuit started back in 2006? So its more like 562 dollars a month.

eldavojohn kills babies (4, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591228)

I think it is important to note that Spamhaus is a service that people proactively utilize. They don't force you to use their anti-spam identification system — it's totally opt-in. And now they're being fined what a foreign judge found to be 'one month of additional work on behalf of the customers' to a company they allegedly incorrectly identified as spam. Sad and scary precedent.

I have it on very good authority that eldavojohn kills babies and eats them for breakfast. He also drove his last 5 employers/clients to insanity resulting in their bankruptcy, and in 2 cases suicide. He is a horrible evil person, and you should never associate with him or employ him.

Remember, nobody's forced to listen to me so I should be allowed to say whatever the hell I want.

Re:eldavojohn kills babies (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591652)

Right, is there a point you are trying to make?

Re:eldavojohn kills babies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591732)

a better analogy would be if you were to publish an "ignore" list of commenters whose posts are not worth reading. Shills, trolls, socks, etc. Then you could put the OP on the list and he could fuss that you were unfairly categorizing him. Actually, there are a few boards where I could make use of someone else's ignore list. Hmmmmm.

Let everyone pay her due, it's only fair! :D (1)

dragisha (788) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591238)

Since they already went all that bumpy road from $11.7M to $27k, I have no doubt they will come to $0 in no time.

They've calculated e360 loss to "one person-month"... Now spamhaus just have to redirect them to people who opted-in for their service, meaning e360 has to collect $27,002 from some 100,000 (or million, whatever) spamhaus users... Meaning You and I will have to pay $0.027... Or less.

I will pay my piece gladly - and I am looking forward for their invoice!

It's all about the money, of course (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591248)

That is all that ever drives spam. If they are aiming to convince people they aren't spammers, they shouldn't put so much energy into chasing after money that they feel they could receive from sending out email.

Some justification to fining Spamhaus (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591268)

While nobody likes spammers (except *maybe* their mothers) and Spamhaus is a great project and useful tool for fighting spam, there is still a problem here: As someone who is a mail admin for several companies, it's pretty outrageous when an RBL list marks you as a spammer (and we're not, of course). It can cost serious money when business emails aren't delivered, it can take serious time to resolve the problem, and it also causes embarrassment for the business.

I don't know Spamhaus intimately, but for most RBL's there is no accountability or appeal. They get to publicly call you a bad name (intentionally damaging your reputation and encouraging others to act on it), and expect you to just take it. They act completely irresponsibly, and assert that, effectively, accountability doesn't scale -- they couldn't possibly review all the businesses they slander via their algorithm. That doesn't cut it.

Imagine someone created an algorithm that claimed to detect people who are frauds via their online presence, and publicly posted its output. Imagine you were on that list and people stopped doing business with you. Is it permissible for the list's owners to say, 'well, false positives are too expensive to detect, so if you're a false positive on that list, too bad'?

While RBLs are very helpful services, they must be accountable, just like everyone else in the world. Nobody else gets to say, 'it's just too expensive to be responsible for my actions'.

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591408)

Except in this case, we're not talking about a company that got 'wrongly' flagged as spammers. These whorehoppers sued over 3 billion blocked emails. That's several times higher than the number of humans with internet access. Can you think of any legitimate reason for sending out that many emails?

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (1)

Random2 (1412773) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591454)

Nobody else gets to say, 'it's just too expensive to be responsible for my actions'.

Except for Oil companies, governments, mafia....

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591476)

Consider it this way: you publish a list of criteria for a list and then publish the list. Others can do as they see fit. Seems like the damage comes from the others, not the list maker so long as they comply with their rules.

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (2, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591516)

That is a good argument, and you spin it pretty effectively. The one thing you fail to mention is that Spamhaus, for one, is an opt-in service, meaning that the individuals and businesses who decide to accept the false positives of Spamhaus' "slander via algorithm" have decided to do so on their own - no one is forcing them to take Spamhaus' word for it. Secondly, being a "spammer" isn't like pregnancy, it's not a binary option. Certainly there are people out there who think they're "informing the public", where others think the same people are worthy of being boiled in oil. If you look at the eternal flame war that is the newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.email, you can see both sides of this argument - the outraged sleazy spammers (on whatever sliding scale you choose to believe) vs the oh-so-noble (again on a very sliding scale) list maintainers. As the Bard said: "A pox on both their houses".

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591596)

It's very easy to not get on a spammer list. You simply don't spam. The fact that you're worried about it says volumes..

While RBLs are very helpful services, they must be accountable, just like everyone else in the world.

No dude, it's you that has to be accountable you're the one sending the emails.

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591630)

Well said, AC. On the other hand, to get around that you would only need to create a "Don't Like Their Email RBL" with the explanation "I received email that I don't like from these IP addresses". As long as no further claims are made about the emails or the IPs on the list, this is as legally actionable as someone saying they don't like Apple, Nike, and Starbucks.

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (1)

DMorritt (923396) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591662)

Anti SPAM measures are totally needed, personally I'm glad filtering out 90% of the crap, and having the remaining marked as "SPAM" in the subject, I can then go through them manually and sort the actual spam from the regular mailings I get, I don't think seeing a regular mailshot marked "SPAM" in any way would reflect my opinion of that company.

For example I get emails from Overclockers.co.uk and Play.com regularly marked as potential spam, yet I'm perfectly happy with their services and will most certainly use them in future! Does being identified as a potential spammer harm them? Not as far as I am concerned.

Being *incorrectly* identified as a spammer harms nobody enough to care, being *correctly* identified as a spammer does.

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (1)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591664)

If you for one second think that your a mail admin AND you think you can get listed on the SBL, you should consider a new job.

if another domain is rejecting your e-mail for an entry on the SBL list, one of your domains must have put you there. it's not a list you "accidentally end up on".

if you have a domain that you administer, it's as simple as checking your outgoing messages. query the message against the a tool to check for the same set of tags the Spamhaus people use BEFORE sending, and properly bounce it back to the user and your maintenance staff to get the user in question resolved.

electronic mail is one of the simplest things in the world, yet people mess it up an awful lot.

Re:Some justification to fining Spamhaus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591698)

Actually there is a system very similar to what you describe that we have no control over and that has no accountability. It is called your credit score. I also feel they should be forced to be far more open than they currently are.

They should do the same thing with pirates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591310)

Getting an estimate of actual damages was a good call. They need to do the same thing when suing pirates. Don't sue them for some ridiculous amount, just what the ACTUAL DAMAGES for not paying for the movie.

Still not bloody caring. (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591352)

If they didn't care earlier, why should they care now?

It's still ridiculous on top of being unenforceable. Maybe they should sue e360 in Britain for the lulz.

Doesn't matter if users opt-in (4, Insightful)

kindbud (90044) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591394)

I think it is important to note that Spamhaus is a service that people proactively utilize. They don't force you to use their anti-spam identification system -- it's totally opt-in.

People proactively buy the newspaper too. Doesn't mean the newspaper publisher can't be held liable for libel and slander. Spamhaus publishes a news report in DNS about which IP addresses are trustworthy. If they get it wrong and that harms someone, there is ample cause for a tort.

That people opt-in to Spamhaus is not relevant.

tortuous... (1)

whitroth (9367) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591422)

Now, I despise spam at least as much as anyone here... on the other hand, I *really* have issues with some of the blacklist projects. I think spamhous, and definitely dnlsorbs, has blacklisted *me*... or, rather, as near as I can tell, they blacklisted an ISP more than once... and the last time, I was on RCN in Chicago, which provides 'Net access for much of the city, and they blacklisted all or part of their *entire* address range.

That's not acceptable.

And it was a pain to get off. At least they're "slightly" better than five or so years ago, when cogeco in Canada used them, and I couldn't email a friend, even though I was on my friend's whitelist.

                    mark

Re:tortuous... (2, Informative)

Koutarou (38114) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591672)

Spamhaus doesn't do a whole ISP-level block unless something pretty egregious is happening.

The usual process goes:
1. Complaint to ISP, no response
2. /32 block, more spam, complaint to ISP, no response
3. escalation to block somewhere between /25 and /29 depending on identification of block size, more spam, complaint to ISP, no response
4. escalation to /24, more spam, complaint to ISP, no response
5. escalation to ISP's corporate mail servers - usually something happens at this point when suits notice their own mail getting blocked
6. escalation to ISPs entire allocation

I'd like to see them send a message to this judge (2, Interesting)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591574)

"NUTS"

Frankly, cases and rulings like this illustrate just how out of control the judiciary is. We seriously should consider bringing back the practice of tar and feathering as a means to punish judges, especially unelected and unfirable for life Federal judges, offer them the choice: Resign or tar and feathers.

Well jeesh (1)

British (51765) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591616)

If e360 doesn't like Spamhaus, then don't use it! :)

Also, e360 should tell all of its customers that in order to receive the 6 billion+ emails, that they should not use SpamHaus on their mail servers. Oh, wait....

Wasn't there a case back of some company that made anti-spyware software that got sued by a company because their sw was labeled malware?

Though I agree that they've done nothing wrong: (2, Informative)

phyrexianshaw.ca (1265320) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591694)

Keep in mind that Spamhaus DOES operate around the globe.
from their site: [spamhaus.org]

"To meet public demand for its DNSBLs, Spamhaus has built one of the largest DNS infrastructures in the world. Its network of over 60 public DNSBL servers spread across 18 countries serves many billions of DNSBL queries to the public every day, free of charge."

for a business to operate equipment in a country, that equipment is required to follow laws pertaining to that country.

Lawyers (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | more than 4 years ago | (#32591734)

Let's hope that e360 spent a lot more than $27k on lawyers for this case.

SpamHaus has issues as well as the spammer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32591748)

SpamHaus has many issues that are not resolved. One thing is their privacy policy which does not describe the information they collect and how someone can correct it. Spamhaus has a removal procedure but it is unclear and does not work in all situations. Whenever there is an inquiry to SpamHaus they just say it is al "volunteers" (which it is not) and they never respond. Now Microsoft (FrontBridge) and Cisco (IronPort) are getting into the act. I think it is real problem that both these companies also operate blacklists or reputation scores without a clear dispute resolution procedure.

This is like the ealy days of credit reporting agencies where many people found it difficult, if not impossible, to fix mistakes. Much like operations like SpamHaus, credit reporting agencies are not required. These issues led to all kinds of regulations and lawsuits.

It is easy to dismiss all this because a spammer filed a suit ... but wait until your business gets on one of these lists and you can't find out why or correct it..

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