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You'd think TFA could at least get English right (4, Funny)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673052)

San Francisco-based Balsam has been wielding a one-man crusade against e-mail marketers he alleges run afoul of federal and state anti-spamming laws...

Wielding a crusade? Really?

Re:You'd think TFA could at least get English righ (5, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673088)

To be fair, a one-man crusade is fairly easy to lift.

Re:You'd think TFA could at least get English righ (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673158)

I don't know, "wield" has such a heavy sound, man.

Re:You'd think TFA could at least get English righ (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673174)

Anybody can do what this guy is doing. It's not particularly hard.

Note that the spammers are settling with him!

Re:You'd think TFA could at least get English righ (2)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673952)

Whoosh! Dude, you're missing that we're making fun of TFA's author's bad use of the English language here... It's even in the title of your posts :-)

It used to be easier to track down and collect from spammers a decade ago than it is today, because so much of it has moved to off-shoring and botnets, and spammers have learned to use shell corporations, bogus domain registration information, fly-by-night web hosting services, and other techniques, so the low-hanging fruit is mostly gone. It's especially tough because the easy people to catch are mostly the stupid ones, and they don't usually have a lot of money. Back when people still fell for the "Make Money Fast by Spamming The Internet" scams, usually there were a lot of suckers buying spamming kits, not actually making much money, but it was easier to catch them than the scammers selling the kits. On the other hand, slapping those people on the wrist for a few thousand dollars would usually keep them from getting back in the game..

If Dan's making money at it, good for him. He's probably catching a somewhat more professional class of spammer, but still stupid enough not to be able to avoid violating the anti-spamming laws or build themselves $100 Delaware Corporations to take the rap for their spamming.

Re:You'd think TFA could at least get English righ (-1, Redundant)

TheRecklessWanderer (929556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673374)

A scummy lawyer sueing scummy email company, nothing to see here.

Re:You'd think TFA could at least get English righ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673478)

Nigger spammers get sued by kyke lawyers! Whodathunkit?

Proof once more that the coons struggling with the red sea pedestrians can only be a good thing for the rest of us.

Re:You'd think TFA could at least get English righ (1, Troll)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673654)

A scummy lawyer sueing scummy email company, nothing to see here.

Please detail exactly how you think the lawyer's actions are scummy. Or are you saying that all lawyers are scummy, just by virtue of being lawyers? In that case, I hope for your sake that you're never sued or accused of a crime, because it might be hard to maintain your self-righteousness when you're relying on those scum to keep you from going bankrupt or to prison.

Re:You'd think TFA could at least get English righ (3, Interesting)

Vegeta99 (219501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674136)

He's scummy because he doesn't do a damn thing. He sets up honeypots, and then sues the spammers, hoping they settle. It's like the pigs buying up a crackhouse and busting everyone that comes in, but never finding the dealer. Legally right? Yes. Morally? No. Only scum go after the low-hanging fruit.

Any Joe Sixpack moron can go file a lawsuit at small claims court. If he was really interested in making a change, he wouldn't be taking the settlements, he'd be dragging them all through the coals. Instead, he's just a money grabbing slimeball.

Hell, he was just some two-bit marketing droid before he thought "oh kool, getting default judgements is fun, I'll go make myself a loyuh!"

Fuck him. Maybe I'd be OK with him if he was working pro bono to help 419 scam victims or something, but right now, he's just as bad as the assholes on TV that advertise class action lawsuits

"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (5, Informative)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673068)

How is this "unlimited consumer lawsuits from unlimited plaintiffs!"? What I see in this article is a substantial but limited number of lawsuits from one plaintiff.

Re:"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673090)

The idea is presumably that people could copy him. He might be among the few doing it, but anyone with an email address, in a jurisdiction with anti-spam laws and receiving spam from domestic companies (how easily can you sue a Russian spammer in a small claims court?) is likely to be a suitable plaintiff.

Domestic Companies (2)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673256)

You can't sue a foreign spammer but you can sure as hell spam the domestic company who pays them. Knowingly or not, that should be regarded as breaking the law.

Go after the domestics Mr Dan!

Judging from what happened to Blue Security though, I would be concerned for my safety if the spam cartel unifies against him.

Poetic justice (3, Funny)

improfane (855034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673274)

Oops, spam must be on the mind. That should read "you can sure as hell sue the domestic company who pays them".

Although it would it would be funny if every employee of a company that pays a spammer receives a clogged inbox of real spam as part of the settlement. That would be wonderful. I mean, if everybody is reading or filtering spam emails, they company will surely go bust!

userfriendly.com webcomic version of that (2)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673992)

Userfriendly.com comic from Aug 7, 1999 [userfriendly.org]

Pitr: Am wonderink what is this email

Email: This is not unsolicited bulk email. Buy me. Blah blah blah
...

Pitr: Zlotniks! Sending me spam! Am fixink their leetle red wagon!
...

Boss: What happened to our email server?

Worker: It's flooded. And there's an email here that says "This is not a denial of service attack."

Re:"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (0)

microcars (708223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673168)

I was a little disappointed by the lead up.
I thought it was going to be about some botnet that used a honeypot to harvest spam emails and auto-filed individual lawsuits by the bazillions or something.
It's not.

Re:"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (1)

micheas (231635) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673720)

Now that would be a business model for litigation. (hope the sarcasm comes through.)

Re:Calling Sarcasm Bluff (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673738)

Why not?
Why not use the same tricks as the RIAA to sue the originator of the emails as "does 1-1000".

First and Second post! (-1, Offtopic)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673170)

...and they both got modded up! Suck it, Trollocracy!

Re:"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (2)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673356)

How is this "unlimited consumer lawsuits from unlimited plaintiffs!"? What I see in this article is a substantial but limited number of lawsuits from one plaintiff.

"Unlimited" does not mean "infinite." Think, "there is no two." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_One_Infinity [wikipedia.org]

In this case, as with software, "unlimited" means that there is no arbitrary limitation on the number of plantiffs or lawsuits. Sure, there is a theoretical maximum of some 308 million plantiffs, and a further theoretical maximum of some six billion defendants... meaning that if the theoretical maximum were reached, we'd have more lawsuits on this law than have ever been filed in the history of our jurisprudence.

So, yeah, "unlimited" sounds about right.

Re:"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674046)

How is this "unlimited consumer lawsuits from unlimited plaintiffs!"? What I see in this article is a substantial but limited number of lawsuits from one plaintiff.

"Unlimited" does not mean "infinite." Think, "there is no two."

No shit. Why do you think I said "limited" rather than "finite"?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero_One_Infinity [wikipedia.org]

In this case, as with software, "unlimited" means that there is no arbitrary limitation on the number of plantiffs or lawsuits.

Well, the maximum of the number of plaintiffs discussed in the article is one.

Sure, there is a theoretical maximum of some 308 million plantiffs...

So, yeah, "unlimited" sounds about right.

Once again, I wasn't talking about the theoretical number of plaintiffs and lawsuits in the world. An article about that might be kind of awesome. What we got was an article about one dude, limited by the number of lawsuits that one dude has time to file. TFA made the summary a teensy bit misleading.

What I See.. ;) (1)

tetrahedrassface (675645) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673372)

What he provides is a DYO template...

Re:"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673410)

You can sue as many Russian / Former Russians as you want. Will they ever be brought to AMERICAN justice? No. Russian Justice? Not as long as the keep passing suitcases of cash to Moscow.

Re:"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (1)

BradMajors (995624) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674006)

The largest source of SPAM is the United States. United States spammers frequently route their spam through a foreign country.

Re:"Unlimited plaintiffs"?? (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674014)

You can sue as many Russian / Former Russians as you want. Will they ever be brought to AMERICAN justice? No. Russian Justice? Not as long as the keep passing suitcases of cash to Moscow.

I think I see a solution.

1. Be in cahoots with Moscow.
2. Bring Russian court suits against spammers whose only way out of lawsuits is to pass suitcases of cash to Moscow.
3. ?
4. Profit!

it's Schadenfreude (2)

lpaul55 (137990) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673116)

Does no one here know German? Shame on you.

Re:it's Schadenfreude (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673180)

Does no one here know German? Shame on you.

Many here know German...none of whom, unfortunately, are among the editors.

Re:it's Schadenfreude (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673310)

Does no one here know German? Shame on you.

Many here know German...none of whom, unfortunately, are among the editors.

Had there been any, then they could have gone past the spelling and gotten the meaning. If the spammers had rheumatism, St. Vitus dance, and erectile dysfunction, then where might be schadenfreude in the Village of the Spammed.

Dan is... odd (5, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673126)

I know a company that has had the fun of dealing with Dan. While I hate spammers as much as the next guy, Dan's little crusade seems less than legal to me. Having a valid opt-out isn't good enough. Here is what you agree to by sending him email (not that you would know it at the time):

All persons, businesses, and other entities that send any unsolicited commercial email to any email address containing “danbalsam.com” voluntarily enter a contract with Dan Balsam and agree to be bound by the terms of the contract and “No Spam Policy” as described herein.

  1. Unless Dan Balsam or someone else with an email address including “danbalsam.com” has specifically opted in to receive commercial email from you, you understand and agree that neither Dan Balsam nor anyone else with an email address including “danbalsam.com” has ever requested any commercial communication from you, and that any commercial email you send that includes “danbalsam.com” in the To, Cc, or Bcc fields that fits these criteria is against the express wishes of the recipient(s).
  2. As consideration for reading your unsolicited commercial email, you agree that any email you send which advertises or promotes any product, service, or Internet destination shall be subject to a $25,000.00 fee for reading and responding appropriately. The fee may be paid in advance at PayPal, or Dan Balsam will remit an invoice.
  3. You accept responsibility for any affiliates or marketing agents who promote any product, service, or Internet destination on your behalf.
  4. Concealing your identity increases the fee by $10,000.00 to compensate for the effort to track down the sender.
  5. You may not sell, barter, or give away to any other party any email addresses containing the domain name “danbalsam.com.” Violation of this clause subjects you to liquidated damages of $10,000.00 or ten (10) times the amount of money you made selling the address(es), whichever is greater.
  6. You agree that California Business & Professions Code 17529.5 is not pre-empted by the Federal CAN-SPAM Act, 15 U.S.C. 7701 et seq.
  7. In the event that any suit or action is instituted to enforce any provision in this contract, Dan Balsam shall be entitled to all costs and expenses of maintaining such suit or action, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.
  8. This contract shall inure to the benefit of and be binding upon the parties hereto and their respective heirs, successors, assigns, administrators, executors and other legal representatives.
  9. Any action in respect of or concerning this contract shall be litigated solely in California and both parties consent to jurisdiction in California. This contract shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the laws of the State of California.
  10. Sending email to or copying to or blind copying to any email address containing the domain name “danbalsam.com,” or similar actions by your affiliates/agents, constitutes voluntary acceptance of these terms.

Copyright © 2002-present, Daniel Balsam

Re:Dan is... odd (2)

microcars (708223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673160)

I am going to send him an email asking if he would license me that contract to use for my own domain.
I wonder if I would get a bill? After all it would be an unsolicited commercial email.

It is just another way to attack spam. (3, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673178)

It used to be, not as much now, that spammers would scrape web sites to obtain e-mail addresses to spam to.

Terms of use are many times enforceable as a contract.

The simple thing is NOT to SPAM!

Just because the DMA bribed enough congress people to get a law passed to allow it in the USA, specifically to override the California ban on the law, does not mean that it is wanted.

There is more to comply then providing an opt-out link.

Re:It is just another way to attack spam. (3, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673250)

All true, all true. But this opens a door for the legal trolls that would be worse than all the spam of the world combined.

Re:It is just another way to attack spam. (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673672)

But this opens a door for the legal trolls that would be worse than all the spam of the world combined.

The terms laid out seem entirely reasonable to me, and I've certainly never sent an e-mail that would violate them. It's true, I suppose, that a troll could set up a website with insane terms buried on the site somewhere ("If you send the owner of this site e-mail for any reason, you agree to pay $1,000,000 per byte") but the solution to that problem would be either not to e-mail any of the listed addresses, or sue the site owner for ... oh, hell, I don't know, something that a good lawyer could no doubt come up with. Some kind of fraud, I'm guessing.

Re:It is just another way to attack spam. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674112)

The point is that you didn't even WANT to send them a mail. You made a typo and it ended there.

Example:

You (or let's make it a MBA, just to increase the chance of a computer related fuckup) receive a business card from a new business partner telling you to send him your offer to dan@somecompany.com. You send it to dan@sonecompany.com. Because you made a typo when copying the name from the business card.

sonecompany.com belongs to our law troll and you receive a mail telling you that you just implicitly agreed to the terms above and you (or your company, rather) owe him now 25k bucks.

Re:It is just another way to attack spam. (2)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674220)

Or just send a contract of your own via the EHLO string when your mail server connects to his to deliver the message. It's equally unenforceable, but it might get him to see the point if he feels like pressing the issue.

Trolls? (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673950)

That is what they said about the junk fax laws, if you allow people to sue it will create junk fax trolls. I have not seen that, but instead I saw junk faxes become almost extinct.

Re:Trolls? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674116)

I don't say "outlaw suing". I said make sure that you don't open a bigger can of worms than the one you're closing. Make sure that law trolls can't jump on it and feast on it.

Re:Dan is... odd (2)

TFAFalcon (1839122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673200)

So kind of like an EULA you only get to read after purchasing a product?

All he needs to add is: 'If you do not agree to these conditions, please contact %site_email_provider to delete your email from our inbox'

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673772)

So kind of like an EULA you only get to read after purchasing a product?

Except, of course, it's published on his website, so you can read it before emailing him.

Re:Dan is... odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673218)

In order for a contract to be binding doesn't something have to be exchanged of value normally? Like a dollar bill. Otherwise it isn't binding. Or at least the contract should be signed in writing. Otherwise it isn't valid.

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673244)

If this holds in court, here's what every lawsuit troll will do:

1. Register domain names that are similar to those of companies and contain the usual suspects for typos.
2. Set up a mail server and put this drivel up there.
3. Wait for someone to make a typing mistake.
4. Sue
5. Profit.

Re:Dan is... odd (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673254)

Having a valid opt-out isn't good enough.

No, it isn't.

I'm not Dan, but I've dealt with people who think like you before.

Let me put it simply: I didn't opt in to your spam. You're already stealing my time and resources if you managed to get it through my spam filters. So I'm sure as fuck not going to trust you to opt me back out of it.

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

yuhong (1378501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673528)

Especially when it is hard to tell whether the opt-out really is an opt-out.

Re:Dan is... odd (2, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673808)

Like I said, I hate spam. I get hundreds of pieces a day, and I wasn't for CAN-SPAM (since it legitimized it). I think all email should be opt-in. But Dan's little agreement seems like you suing me if I sent you a letter from my business because I didn't take the time to go read a note posted on his door I didn't know about. It seems like trap, and a somewhat unfair one.

I just worry is method is too heavy handed. What if I send him a question (about something else, totally not business related) and he decides that the "I work for Joe Bob Web Services, ask us about our XMas Special" in my signature makes my message count as commercial solicitation and decides to sue me? He's a lawyer, that's all he does. Just to go to court (in California) to get it dismissed would cost me a fortune.

When I first heard of Dan, I was like a lot of people here. "Good for him, he's doing something to stop spam." The more I learned, the less sure I am that his little "EULA" is a good way to go about it.

Re:Dan is... odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34674166)

I just worry is method is too heavy handed. What if I send him a question (about something else, totally not business related) and he decides that the "I work for Joe Bob Web Services, ask us about our XMas Special" in my signature makes my message count as commercial solicitation and decides to sue me? He's a lawyer, that's all he does.

If he does that often enough, on grounds as shoddy as the ones you hypothesize, he gets disbarred and/or deemed a vexatious litigant.

If he's smart enough to only sue spammers, then he doesn't have to worry about that problem, because he won't sue over a .signature. And you don't have to worry about getting sued by him.

Either way, it's a self-correcting problem.

Just to go to court (in California) to get it dismissed would cost me a fortune.

Naw, that's just the cost of doing business. You know, just like the time our sysadmin spends adminning the dedicated Ironport server, the cost to license the software, the cost of the hardware itself, the space it takes up in the rack, and the cost of the electricity it consumes.

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673270)

Dear Dan,

We are thrilled to hear your response to our offer of \/1A g R 4. However, as we are persons thus far unknown to you, in a country thus far unknown, who have contracted with other persons unknown to you in Russia and China to hire the services of 100,000 computers in 12 separated countries for to send our valuable messages to you we must reply to your filing of the law suit against us in California court with a "giggle" as they say in English. Good luck collecting on your defaults judgement.

OXOX,

Vladimir and ???

Re:Dan is... odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673272)

I just bought iamdanbalsam.com. Since his TOS says 'with an email address including “danbalsam.com” ' That should qualify. I can now spam him.

Re:Dan is... odd (4, Funny)

Firehed (942385) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673522)

For future reference, posting as AC is quite pointless when it's so easy to perform a whois lookup, Brett.

But props for *actually* buying the domain. Usually when I involve money in a Slashdot comment, it's from posting an affiliate link or something.

Re:Dan is... odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673814)

I just was too lazy to login. I don't care who knows I own the domain. I sent him an email with my real name from his domain. It seems like the wording of his EULA leaves some major loopholes in a number of places such as buying/selling emails, but especially in the area of emails from and to any email address "including danbalsam.com".

Re:Dan is... odd (3, Interesting)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673832)

Replying to self, logged in now.

More specifically my idea was-

He says:

" Unless Dan Balsam or someone else with an email address including “danbalsam.com” "

which i now have, since my email includes danbalsam.com in it. (someuser@iamdanbalsam.com).

" has specifically opted in to receive commercial email from you, you understand and agree that neither Dan Balsam nor anyone else with an email address including “danbalsam.com” has ever requested any commercial communication from you, and that any commercial email you send that includes “danbalsam.com” in the To, Cc, or Bcc fields that fits these criteria is against the express wishes of the recipient(s)." "

I specifically opted-in myself in as someone with an email address including "danbalsam.com".

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673282)

No, that would not be legal. There are rules for contracts that require that an offer must be accepted by the offeree [wikipedia.org] . You can't agree to the terms of an offer that you have not seen. Now you could say that if a spammer sent further messages after the first one resulted in a reply with those terms then they would be liable, but I am not sure. It is like when you get one of those automated phone calls with a recorded message. You can't just talk back to the message and legally say that you have informed the phone spammer of your conditions.

I am not sure who to cheer on here, a spammer or a lawyer. Maybe it is time to launch the nukes and start again with a fresh slate!

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673350)

I am not sure who to cheer on here, a spammer or a lawyer.

Let them kill each other, then the rest of us will be better off

Putting email addresses on web page solves that (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673662)

If he's got the contract on his web pages, and the only way you can find out most of his email addresses you're targeting is by reading his web page, then you're presumed to have read his offer. If you're spamming "dan@danbalsam.com" that may not apply, because that's obvious without looking at his web page, but if you're spamming user34590438509348@danbalsam.com, you got that from his web page.

And maybe that's not a tough enough legal contract to force you to pay him $1000000 and your first-born child, but it should be plenty solid to get $1000 in small claims court.

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673816)

Yeah, that's my big problem. If he auto-responded with a copy of the terms and "By continuing to send me email you agree to them" that would be much better.

I like the idea of suing the people who's products are being advertised, but since so much spam is a fake scam, suing Apple because someone is offering a free iPod (or Pfizer because of "cheep V1agR4") doesn't seem like it would accomplish much. Actual cases where the companyis the advertiser are much more rare.

Re:Dan is... odd (2)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673544)

While I hate spammers as much as the next guy, Dan's little crusade seems less than legal to me. Having a valid opt-out isn't good enough.

He's correct. Having a valid opt-out is NOT good enough. There are two reasons for that.

First, if a valid opt-out were good enough, it would mean every spammer gets a freebie, and then we have to actually take positive action to not receive further spam from them.

Second, opting out requires communicating with the spammer--letting them know that you actually spent time looking at their spam. That is likely to just get you even more spam.

Re:Dan is... odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673608)

So I'd be liable for umpteen million dollars if I were to send an unsolicited e-mail to foobarr@danbalsam.com? Or give away such an addre-OH FUCK.

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673610)

No, a valid opt-out *isn't* a good enough solution. If I haven't "opted-in", don't send me your shit. My life contains a limited number of hours and days in it before it ends and I don't care to spend it opting out of each and every campaign. If 10,000 spam campaigns email me with an option to opt-out and never be spammed by that campaign again, I have still had to go through 10,000 pieces of spam and 10,000 opt-out processes.

On the other hand, I don't know who these people are who are getting an abundance of spam. They're like people who complain about "all the ads on the internet". It takes a very minimal amount of effort to avoid spam. If you don't have a clue what you're doing, you can just sign up for gmail and get about one spam every couple of months. Or your ISP likely provides quality filtering. Or if you are savvy, you can use any number of options to filter your spam on your own (greylisting, whitelisting, blacklisting, SBLs, SpamAssassin, etc).

In 2010, hearing people complain about spam or web ads is a lot like hearing a comedienne start off his set with "What's the deal with airline food?!"

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673850)

Luckily, all persons, businesses, and other entities that receive any unsolicited commercial email from any email address containing any of my domains also voluntarily enter a contract with me as described herein:

0 : You retroactively agree to exempt said communication from any retroactive Terms and Conditions you would normally seek to apply.

Re:Dan is... odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673858)

Prior art. Me and my homeboys came up with this in the lunchroom back in middle school. Around 1998 or so. One of us actually posted a very similar contract, but nobody took any of it seriously because we were underage. Go figure.

I'm glad to see it actually does work, I'm sure somebody owes me a dollar...

Re:Dan is... odd (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673984)

The only reason you would ever run foul of this is if you were sending out unsolicited commercial email... SPAM!

In that case, fuck you. I have no sympathy.

Re:Dan is... odd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34674208)

$25,000.00 fee for reading and responding appropriately.

He must have some mighty hourly billings to claim the amount.

spam is just an example of e-Marketing (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673190)

Spam is just one of many intrusive and privacy-defeating marketing and revenue-generating practices established during the Internet era.

How about when you visit a site and are greeted by ads that target your past buying and/or surfing behavior? How about a search engine that can instantly summon the date of birth, job history, income, present and past street addresses, phone numbers, and other details given a person's name? How about "slambook" sites that allow people to anonomously post comments about teachers or fellow students? Some would say that such practices are all protected by the laws governing free speech, etc. Then why isn't spam protected under the same principle?

Re:spam is just an example of e-Marketing (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673268)

Because it's using my resources to "speak" without asking me first.

The first amendment does not require me to hold your protest rally in my garden. I may do it, provided I support your case or at least don't care, but the 1st does not require me to surrender my property or my rights to something (in this case, the storage space on a server that I have the right to use) to let someone execute his 1st amendment right.

Re:spam is just an example of e-Marketing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34674032)

the 1st does not require me to surrender my property or my rights to something (in this case, the storage space on a server that I have the right to use) to let someone execute his 1st amendment right.

Well not when you phrase it that way. You don't have to store the message on your server. You are free to bounce it, "black hole" it, etc. By having a publicly-accessible mail server, aren't you implicitly allowing emails from anywhere just as you allow visitors from anywhere on a public web server?

Re:spam is just an example of e-Marketing (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674086)

The bottom line is still that you are using my resources to practice free speech. Even if it's just my time, needed to push your spam mail towards /dev/null.

Having a "publicly accessible" mail server (I guess you mean one that "anyone" may send mail to, rather than one that can be (ab)used as anyone sees fit) doesn't allow anyone to fill it with virtual garbage any more than a "publicly accessible" front lawn that I didn't bother to fence in with any more than entirely necessary to mark it as mine allows anyone to dump garbage there.

Re:spam is just an example of e-Marketing (2)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673860)

The right to free speech gives you the right to publish your own newspaper, for example. In modern terms, it gives you the right to have your own website. What that right does not do is extend to the taking of property belonging to others to achieve the free speech. You cannot, for example, steal, or demand free usage of, my printing press. Likewise, you cannot demand free use of my web site to do your free speech.

Free speech is not free beer.

So how does this apply to email? Simple. Email functions by using the resources of BOTH the sender and recipient. And it uses more resources of the recipient than the of the sender. The speech part of the spam is what is in question. The real issue is theft of resources belonging to a recipient that did not want to share those resources for this communication.

Basically, the point that needs to get across to people wanting to do marketing is to pay for all the resources used to carry out that marketing. Paying web sites for ad impressions, or paying TV stations for air time, or paying newspapers for ad space, is how this is done. We have tolerated things like postal ads because the cost for the recipient is not that much, because the cost for the sender, being high, manages to limit the amounts. Telephone advertising (e.g. telemarketing), changes that to make it more costly to the recipient. And with the internet, it gets even worse, especially for email, due to the extreme automation spammers can do.

We SHOULD be able to use existing laws against spam. The trouble with that is, it is still hard for judges (and Congress people) to understand enough of the technology to understand that email spam is just as much a theft of resources as is a distributed denial of service attack. Spam is a denial of service. It should be treated as such. The content (the speech part), is immaterial.

Spam still makes it through the filters? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673242)

I rarely see a spam message make it through the filters these days. I think this guy is a bit late to the game...

Re:Spam still makes it through the filters? (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673494)

Considering he's already made a million, I'd say you're wrong.

And why should filters have any relevance here? Are you saying you prefer the way things are where filters are necessary to find any usefulness in email?

Re:Spam still makes it through the filters? (4, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673498)

Well, this guy is making a living out of it. He's seeking spammers, at least the kinds of spammers he can figure out where to send a subpoena.

Unfortunately, those seem to be the comparatively benign spammers. Oh, they're still spammers and I wouldn't shed a single tear if any of them had their faces eaten off by wild dogs. But at least from the article, this isn't the Nigerian princes, or Russians trying to sell you v1@gra. It's the companies who really should be complying with the CAN-SPAM laws so that they "can spam" you. (And the kind that's REALLY easy to filter.)

They're not filling your in-box with millions of spams. That's the other guys, and as far as I can tell this guy isn't doing squat about them. Work for somebody else, but it means that this guy is less interesting than he might appear from a cursory summary.

They're violating CAN-SPAM when compliance is easy (2)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673648)

It looks like he's especially trying to catch spammers who are doing business in California, since California laws are tougher than the US CAN-SPAM law. But it sounds like he's also catching people who are violating CAN-SPAM, and any US spammer who can't figure out how to comply with that law cheaply and easily while still spamming their way to Making Money Fa$t is too stupid to deserve to stay in business, and yet many of them don't bother. Obviously non-US spammers don't have to comply with US or California laws, but it's much harder to collect money from them so stopping them is Somebody Else's Problem.

Don't Waste Your Time (1, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673280)

There is almost no realistic chance of this turning out to anything useful. The spammers you want to go after are in countries where US laws and verdicts have no jurisdiction. You might as well try to shout at your inbox as an anti-spam measure, it would be just as useful.

If you want to actually make a difference in the spam epidemic, you need to address the underlying cause of spam. You need to accept the fact that spammers are not spamming you to piss you off; rather they are spamming you because they make money doing so.

In other words, the only way we will ever stop spam is to address the economic issues behind spam.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673338)

So, go after the suckers that buy from spammers? But there's a sucker born every minute!

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673628)

So, go after the suckers that buy from spammers? But there's a sucker born every minute!

No. You need to disconnect the spammers from the people who are funding the spammers. Spammers get paid for sending the spam, regardless of whether or not any product sells as a result.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (2)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673520)

Your assumptions are flawed. Point of fact the US accounts for fully 80% of spam.http://www.spamhaus.org/statistics/countries.lasso

But more so you suggest that to stop spam we transfer fully half of our wealth to other countries? good luck with that one.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673600)

Point of fact the US accounts for fully 80% of spam.http://www.spamhaus.org/statistics/countries.lasso

That is not relevant to my point. The money that drives spam comes from all over the world. However, the numbers they use for that page refer to the number of open spam incidents per country, which doesn't have much of anything to do with where the spam is actually coming from or who is funding it; they are looking at where systems are located that are relaying that spam.

But more so you suggest that to stop spam we transfer fully half of our wealth to other countries? good luck with that one.

No.

I have no idea how you came to that utterly disconnected conclusion.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673548)

First off, it's not like there has to be a single solution. I think by far the biggest problem is that if your email is spammed once, it's spammed forever. Everybody knows opt-outs do not work, making such requests will only make your address ten times as spammed. If I were to redo my mail setup, no one would get to know my real inbox. Every address I'd use would be an alias - yahoo will give you 500 of these for free - and every mailing list and every site that requires email for registration would get their own alias. If one of them is spammed to hell I'll delete that alias and it will all bounce, it's the most effective "opt-out" possible. Bots that would scrape public bug trackers, mailing list archives and such would have little effect as I'd update my subscription details and the old address would go dead. It wouldn't stop the spam industry, but it would prevent it from spamming me. I don't think the idiots that pay money for V!AgR4 can be saved...

randomalias@yourdomain.com or you+tag@yourdomain (2)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673750)

The easy half of the game is to have a system for generating lots of aliases - either of the form alias@yourdomain.com (or alias@yourusername.yourisp.net) or yourusername+tag@yourdomain.com are both standard approaches for supporting an infinite number of tagged addresses.

The difficult problem is getting your email user agent to be friendly about making sure that if you got mail from someone who knows you as alias123@yourdomain.com, your replies to them get sent From: alias123@yourdomain.com, and also making sure that if you're sending one mail message to more than one person (either with a mailing list, or separate To:/Cc:/Bcc:, that something appropriate gets done to send them mail with your different addresses. TMDA automates some of that; not sure if anybody's done Thunderbird bits for anything similar.

Unfortunately, part of that solution space is patented - Hall's 1999 "Zoemail" patent and a couple of following patents, though Yahoo has argued in court that they don't apply, at least to whatever Yahoo was doing, and that thy were invalid, obvious, annoying, etc.

Re:redo (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673782)

I have that setup already. Problem is they do automated attacks against domains, so eventually they crack through to your real email. Once they score a hit they sell the live address to other people for their lists. The best you can do is keep it at a dull roar.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673582)

In other words, the only way we will ever stop spam is to address the economic issues behind spam.

That's what Mr. Balsam is doing - addressing the economic issues. The problem with spam is that, essentially, it has zero financial risk. You aren't guaranteed to make any money, but the cost is as close to zero as you can get, hence you have very little chance of losing money. Thus, as long as a single moron is stupid enough to buy your product, you end up with a profit.

By adding a financial burden, ie. litigation, to spam, it becomes possible to end up with a net loss by spamming. One man alone probably isn't enough of a disincentive, but if more people started doing this, it could become a sufficient deterrent to make spam vastly more uncommon.

Honestly, this is the best method I've seen for "adding a financial cost to spam". Earlier proposals, generally variants of a per-email fee, had two problems: they invariably charged innocent people, and they gave the money to corporations or the government, not the people. At least lawsuits like this give the money to the party that was actually damaged by the spam. It's not a perfect method, but it seems to be the best so far.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673686)

In other words, the only way we will ever stop spam is to address the economic issues behind spam.

That's what Mr. Balsam is doing - addressing the economic issues.

By adding a financial burden, ie. litigation, to spam

The problem with that assumption is that the litigation actually adds zero - or very close to zero - actual cost to spam. This is because of several important factors, not the least being that most spam is run by groups that are not within the jurisdiction of US law. You might as well file a personal lawsuit against Osama Bin Laden while you're at it, the result will be just as relevant.

If you want to make a difference, you need to go after the companies that are funding the spammers. The spammers, are, after all, largely paid just for the act of spamming, with no direct connection to sales numbers. If the merchants who are funding the spammers found themselves under the (economic) gun with regards to their choice of marketing tools, then you would see spam start to dry up.

Earlier proposals, generally variants of a per-email fee, had two problems: they invariably charged innocent people, and they gave the money to corporations or the government, not the people

I agree that those particular types of proposals were rubbish, and I never endorsed any of them as having any merit. The email system that exists right now is not compatible with such a notion anyways.

At least lawsuits like this give the money to the party that was actually damaged by the spam

That statement assumes that actual money will be made in the process. Which is, in actuality, a pipe dream. No spammers of any significance will be caught in this effort, no matter how good it sounds. The final revenue from the matter will be dwarfed by the legal fees anyways, so unless you feel that the attorneys were "damaged by the spam" (ironic notion considering the origin of the oldest known piece of email spam), nobody will actually benefit anyways.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673968)

A few final counter-counter-counter-arguments:
  1. Yes, many groups outside the US send spam. However, stopping American-based spammers would be beneficial, even though it is not a complete stop to spam.
  2. For the record, there actually is/was a lawsuit against bin Laden, filed by (IIRC) the pilot's and aircrew union. I have no idea what the status of it is.
  3. This man is suing the people being advertised. He isn't suing the intermediaries - there's no effective way to figure out who they are without police resources. So he is, in fact, going after the funding companies.
  4. Well, Mr. Balsam is making a living off of these lawsuits. So he's apparently living your "pipe dream".
  5. Small Claims court is a much more painless and quicker process than a full court. Quite often, cases take only a few hours, although these might take an afternoon. And, since he's representing himself, he doesn't have any legal fees.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674098)

That's what Mr. Balsam is doing - addressing the economic issues.

I don't think so. The economic issue is that you want your penis enlarged. Don't you?

As long as people want their penises larger, spam will continue, and efforts like this are just talking around the issue. The issue being that you want your penis enlarged.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673692)

I don't mind people with bad spelling and/or grammar losing their ability to send me mail. If something isn't at least 95% proper English by character, I don't want to see it. I don't care who it's from. I just don't want it. Secondly, I don't know anyone outside of the US and EU. If no one in Africa can send me email, ever, I'm good with that. Also, if someone thinks their communication is worth my time, I want to know who they are. I don't really want people to even be able to contact me anonymously. If they don't have a valid physical address registered with their email, I don't care to receive their mail-- although that may be a tad impractical right now.

I don't see why this has to be so complicated. There may be a difference between spam and mail that just sucks, but it's not one I care about.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673710)

I don't really want people to even be able to contact me anonymously

That may be the most ironic piece of writing I have ever seen here from an AC.

Re:Don't Waste Your Time (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673804)

Or you fight back with a little more creativity using spamd [openbsd.org] Nothing stops spam like sending the spam spew to a grinding halt (or even crashing it) by setting your TCP receive window to a value of 1 based on known spammer IP addresses. It is a highly elegant solution. I've deployed it within the family business and we went from thousands of spam messages per day to maybe 2 per week without the headaches of heuristic filtering.

Re:economic (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673828)

I'm quietly working on that too.
Right now Spam is a "push" mechanism, of something with negative value.
I am working on Converter concepts to suddenly turn spam into something with POSITIVE value.

from The Fine Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673328)

My favorite quote from the article (yeah, I read it):

Still, Balsam settles enough lawsuits and collects enough from judgments to make a living. He has racked up well in excess of $1 million in court judgments and lawsuit settlements with companies accused of sending illegal [sic] spam.

So where can I get my fix my fix of legal spam? Maybe I should wait for election season...

Not unlimited (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673330)

FTFS: "unlimited consumer lawsuits from unlimited plaintiffs"

Au contraire. You can limit the lawsuits by limiting the amount of spam you send.

No, this is just as bad as spam. (1)

abolitiontheory (1138999) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673376)

This story just emphasizes that litigation doesn't solve anything. How is this 'crusade' actually helping reduce the kind of really atrocious spam that consumes untold CPU cycles, internet bandwidth, and user time? I can't believe that these companies, "large and small," that are actually reachable, are the really troublesome spammers, and not just some more or less well-meaning people who didn't perfectly adhere to CAN-SPAM regulations. So, he's essentially extorting from legitimate companies and groups, rather than doing anything that reduces truly destructive and troublesome spam.

This guy seems like a lawyer's lawyer. He's getting paid by the law without having to actually represent anyone but himself.

No, he's busting Dumber US Spammers (2)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673872)

Legal solutions aren't going to kill all spamming until we acquire Un-bribe-able World-Wide Pork-Product-Hating Overlords. But a large amount of spam actually does come from US-based spammers, including little guys and big businesses. It's extremely easy to comply with CAN-SPAM if you're not a deliberate spammer - don't send people unsolicited commercial email and you've done your job. It's pretty trivial to comply with it even if you *are* a deliberate spammer, and cheap and easy to set up a $100 shell corporation to limit your financial exposure even if you're a deliberate spammer who doesn't want to comply with the trivial rules. If Dan is making money suing you, then you're a) spamming, b) lazy, and probably c) stupid. If your primary problem is c) stupid, then you deserve to be slapped on the wrist with a couple thousand dollars worth of lawsuit and told to stop annoying people. If you're not stupid, just greedy, then you deserve worse, so I'd recommend spamming him lots of times.

Not only do legitimate companies and groups not send people unsolicited email, they maintain mailing list systems that let people unsubscribe, so even if they have spammed you, it's easy to unsubscribe once from all of your future email. Of course, most people have learned not to trust unsubscribe-from-spam systems, because that just gives spammers more data, but if you really are legitimate (e.g. you're a newspaper, somebody registers for your online comments system, and then decides you're sending them too much mail) you'll do that. And if you're legitimate and not stupid, you're certainly not going to buy mailing lists of "opt-in addresses" from untrustworthy sources.

The purpose of the laws that let individual spam victims sue spammers isn't just to let us get recompense for the 5 seconds of time it takes to read through a message that slipped though our spam filters - it's to let large numbers of people take care of the job of prosecuting spammers, since the criminal prosecution system isn't going to bother with the small-timers. The reason for allowing it to be done in small-claims court is to make it much easier for us to to that. And yeah, it does encourage the spamming business to professionalize and let Russian mobsters do the jobs that used to be done by real American workers living in their single-wides chasing "make money fast by spamming" scams, but getting rid of home-grown stupid spammers is an important part of cleaning up the Internet. But it also encourages the anti-spammers to professionalize, and good for them!

What a great part-time career opportunity! (1)

Stormbringer (3643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673388)

I'm surprised I didn't hear about this via email direct marketing!

The Doctor says! (1, Funny)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673464)

UNLIMITED RICE PUDDING!

passing on the cost (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673574)

The spammers just pass this cost on by raising the price of penis enlargement pills. As always, it's the little guy who pays in the end.

A little guy suing? no big deal (2)

Z80a (971949) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673728)

But i want to see when some sort of huge megacorporation decides to do the same thing this guy is doing, using the "common" methods this kind of corporation does.

delusions (1)

stimpleton (732392) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673746)

I really think this guy is suffering from delusions of grandeur. His "TOS" is not rational. We can dream of such a scheme, much like we sometimes dream of a lotto win. Beyond that, taking it any further into reality, well, thats into the realms of mental illness.

Re:delusions (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34673784)

Well, he's winning those court cases, and earns enough money doing so to make a living, so I'm not sure about delusions.

Read it for this quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34673922)

"He really seems to be trying to twist things for a buck," said Bennet Kelley, a defense lawyer who has become Balsam's arch nemesis over the years in the rough-and-tumble litigation niche that has sprung up around spam.

The ironing is delicious.

Unlimited Mail Works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34674168)

I am the bone of my email
Inbox is my body, and filter is my blood
I have vanquish over a million spam
Unknown to s3x
Nor to v!4gr4
Have withstood pain to delete junk
Yet those spam will never stop invading
So i pray, 'Unlimited Mail Works'

Irony or stupidity? (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674206)

From TFA: "He really seems to be trying to twist things for a buck,"

This from a lawyer defending clients who are abusing the email system to make lots of bucks? Pot, meet Kettle.

E-stamps are the only fix (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674218)

With e-stamps, people would have to pay a few cents to send you spam (unless you put them on a "friends" list). This would make the cost of mass spamming prohibitive. It would also make tracing abusers easier since money is tracked far better than internet bits. Further, a portion of the stamp cost would go to enforcement.
   

We use PGP whitelists, and don't get spam. (4, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34674252)

By requiring all incoming mail to be either on the user controlled white-list (ie: any user can opt to allow an address such as *@slashdot.com or joe@sixpack.net), or to be linked via our PGP chain of trust we have eliminated all spam.

Signing up for a web service that validates e-mail address? Simple: add that site to the white-list first.

In my company signing our e-mails via our PGP key is essential to prove who wrote what when.

Seriously folks, the solution to SPAM is not yet another awesome filtering algorithm, or futile and expensive legal proceedings; It's verifying the sender is who they say they are. Stop complaining about how unsecured & non-authenticated the unsecured & non-authenticated e-mail protocol is and instead, help us all work towards the solution by adopting/advocating secure & authenticated e-mail.

Why does SPAM exist? Because people are too lazy to force the authentication issue. If everyone digitally signed their e-mail we could say, "filter all mail connected by more than 6 degrees of separation into the junk folder," and the fight against SPAM would be over. IMHO, we shouldn't be fighting against SPAMers, we should be fighting for adoption of authentication.

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