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Court Renders $3 Judgment Against Spamhaus

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the that-is-not-a-typo dept.

The Courts 156

www.sorehands.com writes "Back in 2006, e360Insight and David Linhardt obtained an $11.7M judgment against Spamhaus, an international anti-spam organization. The judgment was subsequently appealed and reduced to $27,002. That judgment was appealed yet again, and the appeals court has now vacated the earlier number and entered a judgment against Spamhaus in the amount of $3. (Yes, three dollars.) As you may recall, e360's oral arguments for the latest appeal were not well received by the court." The ruling itself is a fairly entertaining diatribe about how e360 shot itself in the foot repeatedly and with enthusiasm throughout the case, and contains gems like this: "By failing to comply with its basic discovery obligations, a party can snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory."

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See... (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | about 3 years ago | (#37296488)

These spammers are the people the ISPs should be going after for eating up bandwidth. How many people actually legitimately "opt-in" for spam? Probably pretty close to 0.

Re:See... (2)

ge7 (2194648) | about 3 years ago | (#37296544)

Quite many. GroupOn and their multiple daily emails about new offers is perfect example of this. Spammers have just wisen up from the 90's (or, adjusted to laws, as spamming wasn't illegal back then)

Re:See... (2)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 years ago | (#37296688)

True that it's not really all that different. Although I think the main objection to spam isn't the cost of time and bandwidth, but more of a psychological feeling of powerlessness that there's nothing you can do to stop it. It's essentially a form of harassment.

Established companies with a reputation to maintain, I'd imagine, are actually quite happy to remove you from the mailing list on request.

Re:See... (2)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 years ago | (#37297090)

Essentially hell, it is harassment. The non-stop assault of these assholes as they swarm my mail box makes me see red. They should be required by law to provide a valid return email account so I can e-mail them back and tell them how little I appreciate them sending me their shit.

Re:See... (3, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | about 3 years ago | (#37297442)

They should be required by law to provide a valid return email account so I can e-mail them back and tell them how little I appreciate them sending me their shit.

They are. [wikipedia.org] The law just isn't enforced.

Re:See... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37298246)

We also tried that with Blue Security.

The blatantly retaliatory DDoS attack should have raised red flags and gotten the feds involved in at least realizing the deeply criminal nature that spam really is. If it was a mere nuisance of the variety CANSPAM was designed to deal with, Blue Frog would not have been attacked as fiercly and viciously as it was.

Spamming is more than just harassment. It is extortion, RICO, complicity in theft of services, and all that nasty stuff. It's a lot more than just pissing off the people that don't want to receive it.

Re:See... (4, Funny)

Capt. Skinny (969540) | about 3 years ago | (#37298018)

Spam boss: Hey Johnson, how are you coming on those replies to this morning's penis enlargement campaign?
Johnson: Making progress boss. Only 200,000 more replies left to read.
Spam boss: Great work Johnson.
Johnson: Hey boss?
Spam boss: Yeah Johnson?
Johnson: I think you should take a look at this reply from amiga3D...
Spam boss: Hmm... [reads email from Johnson's computer screen to self]
Spam boss: Well, sheeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiit, Jonhson, this guy is really unhappy with us. Son of a gun.
Johnson: What should I do, boss?
Spam boss: Take him off all our lists IMMEDIATELY! Have operations cancel the campaign that's going out right now and the two in the queue until we can be sure he's on on those lists. Forward his email to customer service and have them reply with an apology, and offer him a coupon for 25% off of a spam campaign. We'd better nip this in the bud before this guy makes makes his complaints public -- our reputation depends on on it!
Johnson: Of course, boss! Right away!

Re:See... (-1)

speculatrix (678524) | about 3 years ago | (#37298120)

mod parent up!

Re:See... (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#37298448)

You know, when I signed up for Amazon.com many many many years ago, Im fairly certain I told them NOT to spam me. But in the last 3 weeks, since Amazon now does Amazon Local (their groupon equivalent), they feel like its necessary to send me daily deals.

All that is irrelevant though; noone argues that by doing business with amazon I have given consent to them emailing me. The problem is when people send UNSOLICITED email, from companies I have no dealing with; THAT is what is referred to as spam.

Re:See... (4, Interesting)

dougmc (70836) | about 3 years ago | (#37296606)

How many people actually legitimately "opt-in" for spam? Probably pretty close to 0.

Quite a few, actually.

Like ge7 said ... history has proven that people *will* opt into spam if you give them something in return. Give them a free ringtone, a mp3, some porn. Or a coupon for free food, and they'll agree to almost anything. It's not like anybody actually reads what they're agreeing to.

Of course, the flip side is that many of these people will scream bloody murder when these companies start spamming them "for no reason".

And many people do opt-in to spam -- spam that's highly targeted. As ge7 said ... GroupOn deals in your area? Often quite valuable, but once you stop caring -- it's spam.

No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37297118)

I will actually turn all those things down in order to be not advertised to. The ringtones, mp3s, porn, or free food would probably count as advertisements themselves anyway. They'll give you burger buns and tell you to get their burger meat or condiments. They'll give you a ringtone that advertises a new album. They'll give you an MP3 of the new manufactured band they're trying to promote, and that single will already be played every 20 minutes on the radio anyway. The porn is already free, but the porn they give you will have watermarks that encourage you to go to their site for more.

Re:See... (3, Informative)

Machtyn (759119) | about 3 years ago | (#37297216)

Once you stop caring, it's fairly trivial to opt-out again... at least for legitimate services. Groupon would most certainly comply with an opt-out request.

Wrong! None. (5, Informative)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | about 3 years ago | (#37297266)

Spam is UNSOLICITED!

If people signed up for it, then it is not spam.

Re:Wrong! None. (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 3 years ago | (#37297460)

Depends on if they KNEW they signed up for it.

Re:Wrong! None. (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37298078)

And also if they continue after you signed off of it.

Can't consent be revoked?

Re:Wrong! None. (1)

dougmc (70836) | about 3 years ago | (#37298060)

Spam is UNSOLICITED!

If people signed up for it, then it is not spam.

That is (part of) one possible definition of it.

If I look up the relevant definition at dictionary.com --

Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients

Yes, if you requested it, it's not really irrelevant, but perhaps you didn't realize exactly what you were getting? Or perhaps what you wanted changed over time? (And I'm not even talking about the possibilities of people being tricked into signing up for these emails ...)

Ultimately, to many users, "spam" is email they don't want, whatever the story behind it reaching them is. You might be amazed at how many people have intentionally subscribed to a mailing list -- then reported it as spam over the years, much to the dismay of people running legitimate mailing lists.

Sorry, but your "unsolicited commercial email" definition (I assume that's what you're after) is far more specific than many people ascribe to, and is far too simple to properly cover the issue.

Re:Wrong! None. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 3 years ago | (#37298338)

You know that, I know that and most of the people reading Slashdot know that. However, to most people, spam is any advertising emails they don't want to get. Even if they checked a box saying, "Yes, I want to receive your advertisements by email." and even if they confirmed this by email (double opt-in) it becomes spam in their eyes the moment they decide they're not interested any more. That doesn't make them right and you wrong, of course, but a large percentage of the "spam" that most people get is stuff they opted in for at one point and are now to stupid or lazy to opt out of.

Re:Wrong! None. (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 3 years ago | (#37298460)

I'd go one step further - for many it's any email they don't want to get. I've seen plenty of people complaining of "spam" from mailing lists that are utterly uncommercial in nature.

Re:Wrong! None. (1)

eugene ts wong (231154) | about 3 years ago | (#37298864)

Yes. Even on Slashdot, I have seen people claim that email is spam when they *no longer* want it. So they sign up for it, knowing that the list will provide them something that they want, and then when they are done with it, they label it as spam.

Re:Wrong! None. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37298536)

What about when other people sign your email address up for spam? I don't even mean intentionally, I just mean idiots who cannot get their email address right to save their life.

I get a lot of spam for people who routinely mess up their email address (as well as other personal emails for them, etc).

Re:See... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37297568)

I get a lot of people signing me up for spam. I mean everything, from victoria secret, to build-a-bear workshops, to some bong store in the Netherlands, to some political "think tank" and someone running for governor in Ohio. I didn't sign up for any of those things, they never sent out a confirmation email or anything.

Re:See... (0)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#37296646)

Well, in addition to GroupOn, you have...

Zynga
Tons of local restaurants and businesses
Most news outlets (under the guise of daily newsletters... but notice the adverts in them thar emails)
Store loyalty card programs (where you enter your email addy)
etc...

If you look carefully, you'd be amazed at how many times a typical user opts in for spam.

Re:See... (2)

Splab (574204) | about 3 years ago | (#37296924)

If you have signed up for it, it isn't spam. Spam is unsolicited communications where the sender has somehow managed to get your contact information in a way where you did not explicitly allow for it.

When the local stores send someone e-mail it is a concious signup made by the recipient.

Re:See... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296842)

Not pretty close, but exactly 0. Spam is unsolicited. When you sign up for it, it stops being unsolicited, hence stops being spam.

Re:See... (3, Interesting)

CBravo (35450) | about 3 years ago | (#37296992)

That is half of the truth. The second part is content/applicability and ease of opt-out.

If my pencil-shop sends me an email after 5 years because he wants to sell a new one, it is spam. You don't expect it.
If my car-dealer sends me an email after 5 years because he wants to inform me about a call-back, most people would not consider it spam.
If my ISP sends me an email about pencils, it is spam.
If I cannot opt-out because I need my customer card to complete the procedure, it is spam.

Actually, and anyone at an ESP will tell you that, if the receiver thinks it is spam: it is. Because _that will_ hurt your deliverability at the hotmails and yahoos of the world.

Btw I'm in that business.

Re:See... (2)

Slashdot Assistant (2336034) | about 3 years ago | (#37297312)

By definition email is no-longer spam if the receiver opted-in to receive it. Spam is *unsolicited* bulk email. This distinction is important because without it pretty much every piece of bulk email sent would be spam.

So... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296494)

The spammers still won... Sure it's only 3 dollars.. But they still won. Instead of being burned at the stake like they deserve...
How is that justice or a good thing?

Re:So... (4, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | about 3 years ago | (#37296512)

The spammers still won... Sure it's only 3 dollars.. But they still won. Instead of being burned at the stake like they deserve... How is that justice or a good thing?

It's not perfect, but it is good because Spamhaus gets to stay in business and fight spam for all of us.

Re:So... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 3 years ago | (#37296642)

Spamhaus is a British company anyway so the court had no jurisdiction over them. They only appealed on principal, there was never any prospect of them paying or being shut down.

Re:So... (1)

FunPika (1551249) | about 3 years ago | (#37296788)

Actually, when Spamhaus tried to pull the "you don't have jurisdiction over us so we're not paying this or bothering to fight it" thing after the $11.7M default judgment, the courts actually considered ordering ICANN (which IS under US Jurisdiction) to shutdown the spamhaus.org domain name. That at best would have fucked things up big time, even if anyone relying on Spamhaus got around the block.

Re:So... (2)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about 3 years ago | (#37297140)

this is old -- but if I recall correctly, I think Spamhaus got themselves into the shit PRECISELY BY responding to the summons. Granted, their response was "No.. we're not responding", but the fact that they responded was taken as acknowledgement of the court's jurisdiction. And then, when they never showed up, the court had no option but to find in favor of the plaintiff since the defendant had acknowledged the court's jurisdiction but failed to appear to defend themselves.

Maybe i have it confused with a different case. it's possible.

Attorney: sounds like they blew it (3, Informative)

hawk (1151) | about 3 years ago | (#37297932)

I am an attorney, but this is not legal advice, and does not apply to your situation. If you want advice, pay my retainer.

Generally, responding at all confers jurisdiction, even if there was none to start with.

According to the opinion, spamhaus responded, and then changed it's mind.

Under traditional rules, all that could be done was contest jurisdiction, and any other act consented to jurisdiction (my civil procedure prof actually suggested using a letter rather than regular pleadings for good measure).

Under modern federal rules, and in most states, everything Canberra done at once--BUT you must deny Judie it croon in every pleading, or else.

hawk, Esq.

Re:Attorney: sounds like they blew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37298008)

I am an attorney, but this is not legal advice, and does not apply to your situation. If you want advice, pay my retainer.

Generally, responding at all confers jurisdiction, even if there was none to start with.

According to the opinion, spamhaus responded, and then changed it's mind.

I'm not being picky; one would think a person whose profession depends on the very accurate use of the written word would get this simple sort of thing right.

Re:Attorney: sounds like they blew it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37298178)

Oh, I'm GONNA take this as legal advice. U mad?

Re:Attorney: sounds like they blew it (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about 3 years ago | (#37298202)

Sweet, it's nice to know that my memory isn't completely shit-ass these days :) For just being some random schmuck I'd say I nailed the important parts pretty accurately!

even if the end of your post makes no sense.

do you know harvey birdman?! >:D

Re:Attorney: sounds like they blew it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37298596)

Under modern federal rules, and in most states, everything Canberra done at once--BUT you must deny Judie it croon in every pleading, or else.

Did you suffer a stroke while writing that sentence, or am I just failing to understand the terminology?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37298254)

Yeah... spamhaus1.org would have been, like, impossible to set up!

Re:So... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 3 years ago | (#37298710)

They would simply have changed to a .org.uk domain name and people would have re-configured their servers. Actually the whole debacle has done little more than provide Spamhaus with free publicity and confirmation that their lists are effective, while costing the spammer some hefty legal fees.

Re:So... (2)

snowgirl (978879) | about 3 years ago | (#37296912)

Spamhaus is a British company anyway so the court had no jurisdiction over them. They only appealed on principal, there was never any prospect of them paying or being shut down.

Yeah, "appealing on principle"... and thus making a general appearance, and submitting to the jurisdiction of the court. Good job on those principles...

Re:So... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 3 years ago | (#37298604)

Yeah, "appealing on principle"... and thus making a general appearance, and submitting to the jurisdiction of the court. Good job on those principles...

Submitting in the sense that they would be completely unaffected by any ruling and not pay out any money?

The spammer lost badly. He wasted lots of money lawyers and Spamhaus didn't.

Re:So... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37298144)

Responding to the summons without contesting jurisdiction was a dumb move.

Estoppel by acquiescence.

Re:So... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 3 years ago | (#37296648)

But Spamhaus has no presence in the US in the first place and no intention of paying any fines imposed by a US court. Spamhaus had no assets for the court to seize. They could have carried on regardless.

I really don't see why they bothered appealing at all. Obviously Spamhaus had valid reasons that they felt were justified.

Re:So... (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | about 3 years ago | (#37296786)

if they ever do want to have a presence in the US, the most this assclown can pop up and demand from them in $3+interest. Best to tidy it up now, than have it as a roadblock in the future.

Re:So... (5, Informative)

snowgirl (978879) | about 3 years ago | (#37296900)

Spamhaus tried to argue that the court didn't have personal jurisdiction, and sent a lawyer under General Appearance to argue against the amount of the judgement. The appeals court rightfully explained that by making such an argument, Spamhaus recognizes the jurisdiction of the court.

They initially attempted to argue lack of personal jurisdiction under Special Appearance of a lawyer, but then (probably due to a misunderstanding of law, and advice from a UK lawyer) feared that they might jeopardize their claim of lack of personal jurisdiction by appearance, and so they up and quit, withdrawing their appearance. As a result, a default judgement was entered (as was the normal course of fighting cases prior to special appearance), and their remaining position was to fight any attempts to recover the judgement with claims that the court had no personal jurisdiction. They decided for the other route of arguing against the damages, and thus making a general appearance and submitting to jurisdiction.

I honestly think it's probable that they were working under different legal assumptions based on UK law, rather than US law, and didn't understand how to properly argue lack of personal jurisdiction in the US... (since the US law in this matter differs from UK law, it's not an unreasonable assumption.)

Re:So... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37298196)

Was the lawyer they sent a member of the appropriate bar association?

If yes, then they should have been familiar enough with US law to raise the jurisdiction argument up front, and failing to raise such an obvious objection is such a bonehead move it's almost certainly legal malpractice.

If no, then what the hell was he doing in a US courtroom on behalf of Spamhaus in the first place?

Either way, the lawyer they sent screwed up big time.

I'm not buying this UK law bit. The only way he would have been authorized to stand in for Spamhaus was if he was qualified with US law.

Re:So... (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | about 3 years ago | (#37297014)

The spammers still won... Sure it's only 3 dollars.. But they still won. Instead of being burned at the stake like they deserve... How is that justice or a good thing?

It's not perfect, but it is good because Spamhaus gets to stay in business and fight spam for all of us.

Also, the lawyers for e360 during the original case and two subsequent appeals did not work for free. e360 is much worse off than if they'd never gone after Spamhaus for damages. Meanwhile, Spamhaus saw its liability shrink from $11,700,000 to $3, so their money and time were well spent. That's not even counting the effect that this will have on those who might consider challenging them in court in the future.

Re:So... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296530)

They only won because Spamhaus decided not to show up to the original trial. If you don't show up, you lose.

You can read more about it in TFA.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

rekoil (168689) | about 3 years ago | (#37296592)

I'm guessing the $3 comes from $1 for each of the three charges in the original suit - the lowest amount a US Judge is allowed to award a plaintiff. In other words: "I have to decide in your favor, but I'll be damned if you actually get anything out of it".

Re:So... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296726)

_IF_ Spamhaus even decides to pay the $3, they should do so in pennies.

Re:So... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296754)

_IF_ Spamhaus even decides to pay the $3, they should do so in ass pennies.

FTFY

Re:So... (2)

CrazyDuke (529195) | about 3 years ago | (#37296800)

Personally, if the $3 went to the court, I would not bother the clerks with pennies. But, if it went directly to the spammers, I would be sorely tempted to send 300 one cent USD international money orders in seperate envelopes with signature confirmation for the spammers to cash.

Sign here, please! ...and here...and here...etc...

What? It's just a signature. You can't just write your signature? We all can. What's the big deal?

Re:So... (1)

snowgirl (978879) | about 3 years ago | (#37296970)

Personally, if the $3 went to the court, I would not bother the clerks with pennies. But, if it went directly to the spammers, I would be sorely tempted to send 300 one cent USD international money orders in seperate envelopes with signature confirmation for the spammers to cash.

Sign here, please! ...and here...and here...etc...

What? It's just a signature. You can't just write your signature? We all can. What's the big deal?

I don't think money orders are legal tender, so they could decline to accept payment in that form. However, since pennies are legal tender, no creditor can decline to accept it as payment for a debt.

Re:So... (1)

DRBivens (148931) | about 3 years ago | (#37297964)

I don't think money orders are legal tender, so they could decline to accept payment in that form. However, since pennies are legal tender, no creditor can decline to accept it as payment for a debt.

Money orders, checks, and credit cards are not legal tender, either, but many court-imposed payments may be made with them.

OTOH, pennies are legal tender, but don't try paying your taxes (or tolls--except in Illinois) with them!

Legal tender or not, refusing to accept proffered payment can have some interesting legal ramifications, but are not the be-all, end-all answer to the question.

From what I've seen, courts pretty much set their own rules on what payments they will (or will not) accept. Ignore their rules at your peril.

Re:So... (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 3 years ago | (#37298052)

Personally, if the $3 went to the court, I would not bother the clerks with pennies. But, if it went directly to the spammers, I would be sorely tempted to send 300 one cent USD international money orders in seperate envelopes with signature confirmation for the spammers to cash

I don't know what US law is under such circumstances, but in England and Wales small value coins (under £1) are only legal tender for payment of debts up to a certain amount [wikipedia.org] , i.e. I assume you couldn't pay a £1,000,000 debt in 1p and 2p bronze coins!

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37297250)

How about a gift certificate of $3 for their choice of fine Hormel Food products?

Re:So... (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 3 years ago | (#37297470)

Send it to them in the form of V14gkra!11! vouchers.

Re:So... (2)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | about 3 years ago | (#37296784)

yes and no. If the court doesn't have jurisdiction, the judge is supposed to toss the case, not rule on it anyway inspite of the fact that his ruling will be unenforceable. In this case, the judge took the word of the plaintiff (who obviously has a massive vested interest in getting a default judgement) that the court had jurisdiction, and proceeded with the case.

Re:So... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#37296946)

That's only if the court doesn't have jurisdiction over the offence, not if it doesn't have jurisdiction over one of the parties. If I stand in Germany and shoot someone across the border in France, then a French court can still prosecute me in absentia, but they will need to extradite me to carry out the sentence. In contrast, a British court would throw the case out, because things that happen in France are outside its jurisdiction.

Re:So... (1)

snowgirl (978879) | about 3 years ago | (#37297148)

yes and no. If the court doesn't have jurisdiction, the judge is supposed to toss the case, not rule on it anyway inspite of the fact that his ruling will be unenforceable. In this case, the judge took the word of the plaintiff (who obviously has a massive vested interest in getting a default judgement) that the court had jurisdiction, and proceeded with the case.

A review of the way US courts may be in order... it is not the plaintiff's job to argue for the defense that there is a defect of jurisdiction. Since it used to be that just by appearing in front of the judge to argue any detail of the case was admitting that the court had jurisdiction, fighting a suit based on lack of personal jurisdiction used to be handled by just never showing up, having a default judgement entered, and then fighting the enforcement action brought in a court of competent jurisdiction.

Most of the US has realized how retarded this catch-22 is, and have started allowing for "special appearances" wherein a person can argue against personal jurisdiction (and only personal jurisdiction). Spamhaus started on this route, but then withdrew and opted for the older "lalala, I can't hear you" way of asserting personal jurisdiction.

Courts don't just sua sponte deny jurisdiction because they think they might not have jurisdiction.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37297558)

Actually it's more Spamhaus gave evidence they weren't in the jurisdiction but the court ignored it and assumed the plaintiff was telling the truth when he claimed they had an illinois presence, at this point Spamhaus walked away from the trial as they had in their opinion already proven lack of jurisdiction and would just ignore the response.
  When the spammers then requested that the domain be seized and it seemed the judge was going to respong a Chicago law firm stepped in on a probono basis to stop "untold harm to Spamhaus millions of users"

Re:So... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37298206)

Spamhaus consented to jurisdiction by responding to the summons and failing to challenge jurisdiction.

OTOH, it was a stupid move that would make me consider tarring and feathering their lawyer for malpractice.

Re:So... (3, Informative)

emurphy42 (631808) | about 3 years ago | (#37296650)

Only after sinking however much money into lawyer's fees, and awards that low are fairly obvious code for "we're required by law to award you something, but you're a real asshat so you get the absolute minimum amount allowed".

From a quick scan of TFA, the final judgment boils down to:

  • The spammers missed several deadlines, then blamed the last one on their lawyer dropping the ball and his partners being tied up on other cases at the time, then got an extension of a few weeks and promptly busted out a dozen-odd witnesses (they'd previously claimed that only the boss knew the relevant info) and upped their claim to about $135M. Even negligence would be grounds enough for them to lose something, and furthermore this history is evidence enough that they're deliberately screwing around and thus grounds enough for them to lose more.
  • The spammers were demanding Spamhaus to disclose irrelevant details about its employees and equipment (it was pointed out that Spamhaus doesn't track who downloads their list, so wouldn't know which ISPs might be using it to block spam).
  • Said boss's back-of-the-envelope estimate (cost of one e-mail multiplied by number of e-mails he thinks were blocked because Spamhaus listed them as an alleged spammer) bounced around so much ($11M to $135M to $122M to $30M) that he was clearly exceeding his reasonable business knowledge, thus the whole idea was thrown out for lack of evidence.
  • The $27K was based on "okay, fine, we'll buy you lost three client contracts a month earlier than you would have otherwise", but $27K was revenue and it was pointed out that they should be looking at profit instead. Said boss claimed it was pure profit because "the e-mails were already sent"; this was questioned generally and specifically, and also thrown out for lack of evidence.

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296690)

The spammers still won... Sure it's only 3 dollars.. But they still won. Instead of being burned at the stake like they deserve...
How is that justice or a good thing?

wait a sec...
I don't know how it works in the USA but in Italy if you lose you have to pay for the "procedural expenses", which does not include the lawyers pay, but can still be high... how about that?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296734)

"Loser Pays" in the USA is entirely up to the discretion of the court, and is not at all automatic. Some have called for it to be automatic, I'd personally rather just see the discretion used more often. It's rather unlikely that the judge awarded the plaintiffs their fees.

Re:So... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 3 years ago | (#37296916)


The spammers still won... Sure it's only 3 dollars

I'm not sure you quite understand civil lawsuits. Lawsuits are about one thing. Money. Money you win, and money you cost the other party. They're never about "winning". This isn't a chess game.

A $3 judgement is a total failure. Why? Spamhaus decided to not fight the lawsuit, largely because they didn't believe the US courts held any jurisdiction over a UK operation. So the initial judgement was a default one against them. The judge coming back with a $3 damage assessment is as good as he could have done to smack this idiotic lawsuit down.

Re:So... (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#37296960)

There's one important thing about having the spammers win: you can appeal if you lose a case, you can't appeal if you win. If the judge had ruled against the spammers, then they could have appealed at the next court up and wasted more time and money. This judgement means that Spamhaus can appeal if they want (which, I presume, they won't), but the spammers have to accept the judgement. The point of an award like this is to say 'you are technically in the right as a point of law, but you shouldn't actually win, no go home.'

Re:So... (1)

Vellmont (569020) | about 3 years ago | (#37298292)


The point of an award like this is to say 'you are technically in the right as a point of law, but you shouldn't actually win, no go home.'

As I understand it, the appeal was about the amount of damages awarded, and had nothing to do with who was "correct". The point of the $3 was essentially "I can't rule on who was correct, since that's not being disputed. I can rule that you've shown no damages at all, so I'm awarding you $1 per claim, the minimum I'm allowed to award."

You certainly can appeal if you win... (1)

SwedishChef (69313) | about 3 years ago | (#37298744)

In this case the ruling clearly states that BOTH parties appealed the damages ruling. Spamhaus because they contended that the damages were for gross income not net income and e360 because the damages were too small. Who was at fault had already been determined and was not an issue.

Re:So... (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37298140)

The only reason this case even got as far as it did was because the court improperly assumed jurisdiction.

Of course, Spamhaus (or malpracticing lawyers on their behalf) acquiesced by responding to the lawsuit and then flopping off the radar by ignoring the summons and not even moving for dismissal. They jumped onto the barbecue and didn't jump off when the fire started.

And you're right, they won.

Which is bad precedent.

Spamhaus should add a site for $3 donation (2)

h2oliu (38090) | about 3 years ago | (#37296632)

If they created a site where people could donate $3 to them, I wonder how many people would contribute?

Re:Spamhaus should add a site for $3 donation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296644)

Better yet... Pay the fine in ass pennies.

Re:Spamhaus should add a site for $3 donation (1)

fafaforza (248976) | about 3 years ago | (#37297306)

Or people could pay for their service, even if it is for a personal mail server.

RTFA... (1)

netsharc (195805) | about 3 years ago | (#37296672)

I'd like to read the RTFA (or the ruling), but why on FSM's green earth do we, in 2011, have, instead of plain easy-to-read text, the image of text, rendered using fancy Javascript interface, using only about 30% of my 1280x800 screen? Where scrolling is "smooth" (i.e. laggy)?

Fuck this stupidity...

Re:RTFA... (2)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 3 years ago | (#37296770)

Well, we're all disappointed that the ruling was a PDF and that the court doesn't use ASCII for your viewing pleasure. Maybe you should stick to browsing with Lynx on a VT100.

Re:RTFA... (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 3 years ago | (#37296870)

Maybe you should stick to browsing with Lynx on a VT100.

Feh. Kids these days. Real men use VT52s and self-written EVE/TPU macros.

Re:RTFA... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 3 years ago | (#37297070)

Real men use VT52s and self-written EVE/TPU macros.

Damn. I'd almost forgotten about EVE, now ... :-P

Re:RTFA... (1)

amiga3D (567632) | about 3 years ago | (#37297128)

It's a windows world. Everyone is used to the simplest things requiring huge resources. When we all get 1 gigabit internet connections they'll come out with something that will be so bloated you'll need 3 hours to download the Gettysburg Address.

Re:RTFA... (1)

DRBivens (148931) | about 3 years ago | (#37298054)

The link is to a scribd page, not a PDF, and scribed--a you-can't-copy-this-document publishing solution--uses a UI that sucks for many people.

Were it a PDF, it probably would have been fine. Perhaps we should check our facts before we jump all over the person.

Naaaaaaaaa! (Apologies to Steve Martin...)

Re:RTFA... (1)

zmughal (1343549) | about 3 years ago | (#37297544)

Here [uscourts.gov] you go. Now use pdftotext and read it however you like.

Re:RTFA... (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | about 3 years ago | (#37297762)

LaTeX would make an excellent format for court decisions. Maybe I should propose a $1billion overhaul of the system ;-)

Our Court System favors only Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37296724)

So even though Spamhaus was able to get the fine down, which is basically a slap in the face to e360 for their inadequate case, the following still happened

1) Spamhaus got a judgement against them
2) They had to pay an attorney to fight this for so long only to still receive a guilty verdict (yeah I know they didn't defend themselves at first)
3) They probably have to pay e360 attorney fees since they lost.

So again, the lawyers win. Everyone else loses. Go Justice System!

Re:Our Court System favors only Lawyers (2)

darkshadow88 (776678) | about 3 years ago | (#37296798)

In the US, you don't have to pay the winner's attorney's fees unless the judge specifically orders it. In this case, he did not. I also doubt that Spamhaus spent very much defending themselves in this case--the default judgment was because they didn't show up, and they went on to appeal the damages.

Judgement amount. (1)

hackus (159037) | about 3 years ago | (#37296738)

I would have awarded them three fiddy. :-)

-Hack

Re:Judgement amount. (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 3 years ago | (#37296772)

Since spam appears to have value to those guys, just pay them in spam emails.

Our Court System only exists for the Lawyers (0)

Draconis183 (1871664) | about 3 years ago | (#37296794)

I know Spamhaus did not defend themselves initially which led to the guilty verdict for them, but after all of this they: a) Spent lots of money defending the allegations b) Got a judgement AGAINST them even though e360's case was flawed and got the smackdown by the court. c) Might/probably will have to pay e360's attorney fees. So the Lawyers win again. Everyone else loses. Rock on!

Re:Our Court System only exists for the Lawyers (1)

Legal.Troll (2002574) | about 3 years ago | (#37296862)

"might/probably will have to pay e360's attorney fees"?

That's a real gem; most people would recognize the inherent contradiction in saying "might" and "probably will" alongside each other like that. Got a citation backing you up? Because the baseline rule in the US legal system is that everybody pays their own legal fees. Only where some special rule applies must one party pay another for legal fees.

Re:Our Court System only exists for the Lawyers (1)

Draconis183 (1871664) | about 3 years ago | (#37297044)

Good to know. Thank you for your clarification on both the legal side and my broken English. I can sleep peacefully tonight. Its odd the level of satisfaction you get from this. I can imagine your face of victory as you scream from your keyboard ALL YOUR GRAMMAR ARE BELONG TO ME.

Re:Our Court System only exists for the Lawyers (1)

fafaforza (248976) | about 3 years ago | (#37297348)

Heh, are you actually asking for a citation of someone's personal lack of intimate knowledge of another country's legal system? Wouldn't the citation be Draconis' actual post? Jeez, who wound /you/ up today.

Re:Our Court System only exists for the Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37298204)

What kind of twits are you? Pointing out the logical absurdity of a statement is not correcting "grammar". And how could a sane person actually think I was asking for a citation for this kid's *lack* of knowledge—when any idiot could tell I was asking for a citation for the legal claim he appeared to be so sure of but had not basis for.

All in a day's work on Slashdot, where ignorant people present baseless speculation, on subjects they plainly know nothing about, as fact—then have a hissy fit if anyone is so impolite as to bring reality into the discussion.

—Legal.Troll

Re:Our Court System only exists for the Lawyers (2)

snowgirl (978879) | about 3 years ago | (#37296954)

As explained to an anonymous coward above, lawyers fees are only awarded if it is declared in the judgement, and not for all cases where someone loses. In particular, lawyers fees are usually only awarded in cases where it would be unreasonable for a party to shoulder the burden of bringing the case to court, usually because one side is so utterly wronged that it's either "come on defendants, these people shouldn't have had to bring this matter to a court... you were clearly wrong, and decided to just scream out 'nu-huh'"... or "come on plaintiffs, this argument is the stupidest thing in the world, and you have no evidence and/or no sane legal theory to make your argument... they never should have had to defend this in court in the first place."

What a difference half a decade makes (1)

alphatel (1450715) | about 3 years ago | (#37296816)

The initial victory in 2006 was in part due to the inability of the courts to grasp exactly what companies like 360 do for a living, and even less of an understanding how much they earn from their misdeeds. Everyone has a right to make cash, but to blame your entire shoddy organization's profits on a non-profits attempts to filter out noise is ludicrous to begin with and naive at best. Roll forward to 7 years since the suit was filed and you have a court that's at least partially educated and in some further sense, biased against spam operations. Cheers to Spamhaus for putting up the funds so the rest of us can enjoy a normal life.

Why accountable at all (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37297058)

The real question I see is why is Spamhaus accountable for their losses at all. They are effectively a boycott list of ip's that provide spam e-mails. Is a website that says to boycott Disney and all it's subsidiarity responsible for Disney s losses? Nope. So why is Spamhaus?

Re:Why accountable at all (2)

fafaforza (248976) | about 3 years ago | (#37297368)

I don't get it either. Spamhaus isn't forcing anyone to use their list. If their list is full of false positives, then email providers are free not to use it. Wouldn't a more common sense target be a company like Yahoo that uses Spamhous as part of their policy?

Write that check out NOW! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 years ago | (#37297078)

If the e360 beancounters are as inapt as their lawyers, they might cash it in and hence by willful act accept the judgment (well, at least if the US system works similar to what I'm used to).

Comedy of Errors (2)

Software Geek (1097883) | about 3 years ago | (#37297198)

The defendant made legal errors regarding personal jurisdiction, thus losing their opportunity to get the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction AND their opportunity to argue the merits.
The plaintiff made legal errors regarding discovery, thus losing their opportunity to recover damages.
The trial judge made legal errors that twice resulted in the verdict being overturned.

In the end, the case was decided without any actual evidence on the merits being admitted.

Justice!

Re:Comedy of Errors (2)

artor3 (1344997) | about 3 years ago | (#37297676)

The defendant made legal errors regarding personal jurisdiction, thus losing their opportunity to get the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction AND their opportunity to argue the merits.
The plaintiff made legal errors regarding discovery, thus losing their opportunity to recover damages.
The trial judge made legal errors that twice resulted in the verdict being overturned.

In the end, the case was decided without any actual evidence on the merits being admitted.

Justice!

And after all of this, $3 changes hands. Oh, except for the undoubtedly enormous sums paid to the lawyers on all sides.

Working as intended.

Certain victory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37297270)

That's disturbing. "By failing to comply with its basic discovery obligations, a party can snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory." That quote says that the judge thinks the core of the case had merit. So we can expect more spammers suing spamfighters, being smarter in court and winning.

Re:Certain victory? (1)

danb35 (112739) | about 3 years ago | (#37298040)

No, the "merits" had already been decided--due to Spamhaus' default (for whatever reason, they didn't properly argue to the court that they weren't subject to its jurisdiction), e360 had already "won" on the merits. The only question remaining was how much harm they had suffered from Spamhaus' actions--and since they didn't produce any appropriate evidence on that subject, they were awarded $3.

Spamhaus almost certainly would have won on the merits, if they had competently argued them. Alternatively, they probably would have gotten the case dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, if they had competently argued that. As it was, they didn't competently argue anything until it was too late to avoid judgment against them.

Precedent? (2)

Xacid (560407) | about 3 years ago | (#37298334)

What I don't understand is how this is a "win". Yes, the court slapped SH on the wrist, but they still ruled against them. No beneficial precedent is set that I can see.

Not in a civil suit. Re:Precedent? (2)

rocket rancher (447670) | about 3 years ago | (#37298872)

What I don't understand is how this is a "win". Yes, the court slapped SH on the wrist, but they still ruled against them. No beneficial precedent is set that I can see.

Precedent? In a civil suit? Stare Decisis is not operative in a civil suit, for good reason. Be illuminated. [wikipedia.org]

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