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Virginia Court Overturns Spammer Convictions

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the free-to-spam dept.

Spam 433

EvilStein writes "CNN reports that "A judge dismissed a felony spamming conviction that had been called one of the first of its kind, saying he found no "rational basis" for the verdict and wondering if jurors were confused by technical evidence." Legal groundwork being set? Will other convicted spammers now have grounds for an appeal?"

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No, no new appeals (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830516)

Please take a class or read a book on the American judicial system. This is a decision in a state court related to a specific case.

Re:No, no new appeals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830595)

The last line of the article:

Jaynes' attorney, David A. Oblon, had argued that the spamming was not conducted in Virginia and that there was no evidence that e-mails were unsolicited. Oblon said he would appeal.

Re:No, no new appeals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830613)

Yes, appeal in this case. But it doesn't create new grounds for other spammers to appeal.

Re:No, no new appeals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830706)

Look, Slashdot has a front-page to fill.

289,000,000 nerds are waiting for an opportunity to get the fristy psot.

Do you really want to deny them this opportunity by requesting some kind of ... editorial judgement?

Re:No, no new appeals (0)

EvilStein (414640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830653)

Well, since I didn't go to school in America, I missed those classes. Sorry about that.

However, I don't see why it would bar others convicted of similar violations from using it as a precedent example.

If they cannot ever do so, I'm interested in hearing how that works.

Re:No, no new appeals (5, Informative)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830664)


But it DOES matter to the rest of us. (Those who care about anti-spam laws everywhere)

It's called "case law". One judge somewhere makes a ruling and all judges following will treat the ruling as an appendage to the law in question. Judges, in this fashion, do write law!

It doesn't even need to be in the same state to be sited as case law. If it is a case from a different state, they will often take differences into account between the laws. I have heard rumors that laws are sometimes affected internationally by presidents set in other countries.

It may relate to a specific case, but it matters to every such case after. Especially when a new, untried type of law goes to court for the first few times (such as anti-spam).

Re:No, no new appeals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830695)

But this wasn't a case that sets precendent for spam laws. This was a ruling about a specific case and how it was heard. At most, it affects Virginia.

Re:No, no new appeals (2, Informative)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830767)


I'm sorry if you know more than I do, but the article (which I did read) wasn't that specific. It just said that one of the two convictions were overturned. It sounds like the judge thought he knew the "technical evidence" better than the jurors.

And it IS a precedent setting case. It is unlikely that any big precedents were set, just tiny ones. I couldn't tell you which ones unless I actually had some better information on the case (things like: which technical information is/isn't permissible in this type of case, for example). The dismissal may or may not have been a part of a new precedent (it probably wasn't, but I don't know that).

Re:No, no new appeals (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830823)

The parrent to this post is a reply to an AC.

For some reason, it also shows up as a reply to my first post.

It sound stupid arguing with my self...

Re:No, no new appeals (2, Interesting)

Dfasdf (414625) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830726)

yep.. case law can be pretty far reaching..

for instance, in Canada we can use our own case law, and that of the UK as equal. US case law can also be use up here.. but not as a precedent..

at least this is what I got from my law course in high school..

Re:No, no new appeals (1)

gd2shoe (747932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830838)


But what is case law if not a precedent (or group of many precedents)?

Re:No, no new appeals (2, Insightful)

ArmchairGenius (859830) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830714)

Well no new appeals based on this decision, but that is not to say this case (and others like it) are not rife with plenty of potential appealable issues.

The fact that a guy got 7 years for sending 10,000 emails seems a bit absurd to me. Especially when (according to his lawyer) there wasn't a showing they were even unsolicited. Then of course there are jurisdictional issues...

ARGH! (0, Offtopic)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830517)

Spam! A spam! [badgerbadgerbadger.com]

Why, yes Your Honor... (5, Funny)

Frodo Crockett (861942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830519)

They all willingly subscribed to my penis enlargement newsletter!

Spammers, take note. (0, Flamebait)

LokieLizzy (858962) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830521)

The land of incest can be warchalked as a safehaven for spammers as well!

You're confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830530)

This is Virginia, not WEST Virginia.

Re:You're confused (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830635)

That's right, we have Mullah Robertson and Mullah Falwell.

I have been convicted (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830531)

of getting the 9th post!

Re:I have been convicted (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830545)

Embarrassingly, it would appear to have been a false accusation. I fail it.

Confused? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830532)

How can you be confused by technical evidence? That made no sense.

How much ya wanna bet the judge is subscribing to the spammers' services and is being blackmailed...?

</joke>

Re:Confused? (0)

aixnotpains (863640) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830776)

Or possibly a star, I'm sure if I could go back and search all the spam I have deleted. There would be atleast one "N4ugh7y JUDGE takes |-|A#D C**K i....." or the like.

Re:Confused? (1)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830921)

How much ya wanna bet the judge is subscribing to the spammers' services and is being blackmailed...?

Nah. He's being bought off with a share of this 150 million dollars which the late General Sanji Abumbo of Nigeria placed in a foreign bank...

Slashdot: News for Lawyers. (3, Insightful)

james3v (594478) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830533)

Since when did Slashdot become News for Lawyers? I'm really dissatisfied at the selection of stories that the editors here are running. A long time ago I could rely on /. to give me the scoop on all the latest technology. Now I get a front page with nothing but law, lawsuits, patents, lawyers, etc etc.

What gives? Can we bring back the old content?

Re:Slashdot: News for Lawyers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830546)

groklaw anyone..

Re:Slashdot: News for Lawyers. (4, Insightful)

rben (542324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830548)

Like it or not, what is happening in the courts affects the technology world more and more all the time. I think that it's important to have the broader picture.

Re:Slashdot: News for Lawyers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830598)

Slashdot is not supposed to be "A well rounded education for technology minded people" Thats probably why its theme is "News for Nerds. Stuff that Matters" Thus, the majority of the news should not be politics and law.

Re:Slashdot: News for Lawyers. (3, Funny)

prowley (587280) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830591)

What gives? Can we bring back the old content?
Don't worry, the old content comes back every few days.

Re:Slashdot: News for Lawyers. (4, Insightful)

internic (453511) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830659)

Perhaps it's a sign of the times. Maybe it's not that slashdot has moved from tech into law, but that law has moved increasingly into tech, something I think the majority of /. users would prefer were not the case.

There are no new developments in technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830855)

Since the lawyers moved in and made sure that no one is allowed any creative freedom anymore.

Death penalty.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830534)

doesn't need rational basis.
Oh and..
Frost Pist

Two ways to look at this ruling (4, Insightful)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830535)

The first is that it is a terrible injustice that these spammers won't spend 9 years in jail and have to pay $7,500 for each spam that was received. The second is that this judge is stepping way over the bounds of interpreting and applying the law and is (as it is commonly referred to) "legistlating from the bench" by declaring the punishment to not fit the crime.

The third way to look at this is that Free Speech has won the day. To this way of thinking, another attempt to squash the little guy with a big mouth has failed.

I believe it was Voltaire who said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Of course he was also known to say, "A witty saying proves nothing."

one extra way to look at it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830549)

Is that the land of the free has a government and judicial system that sides against the common good when it comes to patents, and sides against the common good when it comes to spammers. Ironically, the reasoning behind the first (the government gets confused by technical babble) is applied against the people for the second (the people are confused by technical babble).

"free speech" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830571)

Commercial speech, in this case spam, does not receive any sort of absolute or near absolute freedom. The Supreme Court has ruled it is not the same as political speech and can be restricted when appropriate.

Finance Reform (1)

XanC (644172) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830611)

Of course, since McCain-Feingold, political speech isn't all that free anymore either...

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830579)

The third way to look at this is that Free Speech has won the day
In many cases, the volume of spam is enough to be considered a distributed denial of service attack.

10 spam messages in a mailbox a day is free speech, hundreds makes the mail service useless.

The "car" example (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830689)

When you buy a new car (substitute "email address" as you please), you expect that it will be clean and in working order. But as time wears on, problems will arise. You can stave off most of these problems by taking care to perform regular maintenance on it (for email addresses, this means taking precautions that it doesn't get picked up by spammers).

But time takes its toll. At some point the car will be wracked by so many problems that it just isn't worth it to hang onto it and you go out and get another car. Sure, you can patch it up (add virus scanners), take it to the repair shop (run a spam filter), even keep it safely in the garage (use a whitelist), but after a certain amount of time, that car just ain't gonna run no more.

Then you get a new one.

Email addresses can't be considered permanent property. At some point they must be discarded and a new address acquired. It's just part of the cost of owning the email link.

You don't complain if a car falls apart after 15 years. You can't complain if an email address becomes unusable after 2. These things just have limited lifespans.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (4, Insightful)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830604)

The third way to look at this is that Free Speech has won the day.

Email spamming != Free Speech. Free Speech does not entail the right for you to use my private property to dump your unwanted advertising.

All email spammers should be put to sleep, as should this idiot judge.

My mistake (2, Informative)

Dimensio (311070) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830649)

Having RTFA, it looks like a spammer's accomplice was convicted based upon inadmissable evidence, which I must begrudgingly admit is an acceptable ruling.

I stand by my statement on email spammers, though.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (1, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830679)

Spam does fall within free speech.

You're right in that spammers have no right to ensure that you ultimately receive spam. However, they do have a strong right to send it to you. What you do with it is your own affair, however.

There is no legally significant difference between someone sending you a million emails and someone sending you a million pieces of junk mail. In both cases, your ability to receive communiques by the medium is considered implicit permission for the world to send you things. In both cases, you can refuse to accept them, or can throw them away unseen, and with virtually no effort on your part.

While I hate advertising everywhere, it strikes me that people who are opposed to spam to the degree you exhibit not only lack an awareness of how crucial free speech is, even where it disgusts you, but are also amazingly lazy and would prefer that free speech not exist just so that they don't have to press a delete button. That's pretty sad.

Me, I place spam in the same category as the KKK -- it's amazingly distasteful, and I think we'd all be better off without it, but that no one person's decision should be imposed on other people. If someone out there wants spam, then I would be doing them a disservice if I kept them from getting it. If someone out there wants to send messages to people, then were I to ban their message based on its content or it being widely disseminated, then why couldn't that be used against me by someone else?

Free speech means having to tolerate the existence of speech you don't like. No one is making you listen to it, however.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (2, Interesting)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830740)

You're not a lawyer are you? Well, I'm not either. But I know that your facts about mail aren't right. You not only have the right to refuse any mail, but you have the right to prevent any mail from being sent to you in the first place. The Supreme Court said so.

If you find any piece of junk mail offensive, for example, woodworking catalogs, you can inform your local postmaster to prevent their delivery to your mailbox. What you find offensive is up to you, not anyone else, which is why I used the woodworking example rather than the Adam and Eve catalog in the example.

E-mail is no different. I don't want penis enlargment material, because frankly I only have two normal sized hands. I should be able to prevent anyone trying to send me this stuff from connecting to my port 25. By force if necessary. Preferably, even.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (4, Informative)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830903)

You're not a lawyer are you? Well, I'm not either.

Actually, I am a lawyer. I'm licensed to practice in Massachusetts. But I'm not your lawyer, we don't have an attorney-client relationship, and this isn't legal advice. For those things, see a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction who is willing to enter into such a relationship with you.

You not only have the right to refuse any mail, but you have the right to prevent any mail from being sent to you in the first place. The Supreme Court said so.

Note that I said 'strong right,' not 'absolute right.'

The case you're probably thinking of is Rowan v. US Post Office Dept., 397 US 728 (1970). And indeed, the Court did find in Rowan that it didn't violate the junk mailer's first amendment right for the individual recipients to, via the Post Office, prevent further junk mail from specific senders from being sent.

The key is, that it took action by specific recipients against specific senders. This is important, because next we see Bolger v. Young's Drug Products, 463 US 60 (1983), in which the Court upheld the first amendment rights of junk mailers. There, the government had stepped in and banned junk mail on its own initative, because recipients might have been offended. In that case, the Court decided that it was up to the recipients to decide for themselves whether or not they were offended, and that the government could not act to protect people who might be offended since such recipients could easily avoid reading the junk mail and just throw it out. The burden of not reading things and throwing things out was too low to justify government intervention.

So sure -- if you notify a spammer after the fact, or in advance, by some reasonable means, that they should not send further spam to you, then I think that it might very well be sufficient for the government to make sure that they don't. (Though I'm wary of this, since I'd rather err on the side of more speech than less)

But the onus is on you, the individual recipient. If you don't tell people you don't want something, don't fault them for sending it. And just because you don't want something, don't stand in the way of the people who do. (Though I'd have to wonder about who the hell actually wants spam)

I should be able to prevent anyone trying to send me this stuff from connecting to my port 25.

And you can. Turn off your port 25. That'll work.

Otherwise, I suggest telling spammers to not spam you anymore, and to follow up on that with appropriate legal action if they continue.

But force goes too far.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (1)

malfunct (120790) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830781)

If you can prove that there is a cost to you that you cannot avoid when they send the spam (getting junk mail isn't any appreciable cost to you in comparison to the cost to send the mail) then they do not have the right to send it. The big example that I like is the law that existed (still exists I think but I know it was being fought against by fax spammers) to prevent fax spam. Because receiving a fax cost the person recieving that had no reasonable away to avoid it, it was legislated that the fax spam was not to be sent and it was not a free speech issue.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (4, Insightful)

Steve B (42864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830802)

Spam does fall within free speech.

Theft of services is not "free speech".

There is no legally significant difference between someone sending you a million emails and someone sending you a million pieces of junk mail.

The difference (the senders of junk snailmail pay for the service they use; the senders of spam impose this cost on their targets) is a matter of common knowledge. This statement can thus only be interperpreted as willful trolling (and will presumably be moderated accordingly).

you can refuse to accept them, or can throw them away unseen, and with virtually no effort on your part

It is also a matter of common knowledge that spammers routinely sabotage attempts to reject their communications. If the law treated the matter rationally (i.e. if it regarded attempted evasion of spam filtering as a form of unauthorized computer access, and applied the established penalties for that crime), the problem could be readily brought under control.

I place spam in the same category as the KKK

Yes -- KKK members are known to engage in vandalism and trespass, and are generally punished when they get caught at it.

If someone out there wants spam

Solicited mailings are, by definition, not spam.

If someone out there wants to send messages to people, then were I to ban their message based on its content or it being widely disseminated

An irrelevant hypothetical, since the issue here is banning a particular method of message delivery, for the same reasons similar meatspace methods (spray painting on the recipient's house, heaving a note wrapped around a brick through the recipient's window, parking a sound truck in the recipient's driveway and firing it up at 3 AM) are prohibited.

Free speech means having to tolerate the existence of speech you don't like.

It does not, however, mean tolerating theft and trespass.

No one is making you listen to it, however.

See above. The law need only treat e-mail filtering as it treats other form of comptuter security, and the problem is solved.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (4, Informative)

Sturm (914) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830912)

Spam is most certainly NOT Free Speech. Much like junk faxes, e-mail spam places most of the burden and cost of disposing of spam onto the receiver. Just because my front door faces the street doesn't mean anyone can come up to my door and try to sell me something or even try to just TELL me something. I can put up signs that say "No tresspassing" or "No solicitation" and because I OWN that property, you have to have permission to come onto my property or you are tresspassing. And I can assure you that if some fool started preaching loudly on the sidewalk adjacent to my lawn in the middle of the night, I would call the police an report it as disturbing the peace. They have the right to say or think it, but I have the right to choose not to be disturbed by it.
Free Speech laws are intended to protect a person's right to think and speak without fear of government oppression. There are also laws to protect a person's right to privacy and personal possession. It is MY e-mail account. I pay for it. If I give someone my e-mail address, that, and ONLY that gives that person permission to send me e-mail. If I revoke that permission, that person should no longer be able to send me e-mail. Just because my mail account is open to anyone doesn't mean I have to tolerate unsolicited marketing.
Spam isn't an act of Free Speech. It is an act of marketing or solicitation. There are plenty of laws that restrict the "rights" of marketers and solicitors. Spam should be no different.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830913)

Spammers have the right to free speech when they pay for it.

People DO NOT have the right to free speech when anyone but themselves are footing the cost. This is why they aren't supposed to call your cellphone (it costs you, not them), this is why they can't send you faxes (they're using YOUR ink, paper and machine), this why they SHOULD get their balls ripped off when they send spam... Because 1)Oftentimes they're using a zombie machine to do it 2)they're costing the networks bandwidth, and many of them just eat the cost 3)if you don't have an unlimited bandwidth plan (like ALL cellphone data, and most satelite IP services), they're directly costing YOU money--no differently than if they were calling you on your cellphone, or sending you viagra adverts on the fax.

They do not have the right to send un-solicited email, and at any rate, it's pretty morally dubious.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (1)

mazarin5 (309432) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830644)

I believe it was Voltaire who said, "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Actually, it was Beatrice Hall. She was remarking that it would be typical of something Voltaire would say.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (2, Informative)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830655)

The third way to look at this is that Free Speech has won the day. To this way of thinking, another attempt to squash the little guy with a big mouth has failed.
Are you stupid, a spammer or a sockpuppet???

Where does in the first amendment is it said "the right of people to force other to read what they say and by having them pay for me transmitting it shall be protected"???

Spam is not FREA SPEACH. Spam is THEFT. Theft of computer ressources, theft of bandwidth, theft of storage, THEFT OF PEOPLE'S TIME.

Look at me! I RTFA! (5, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830669)

From the linked article that nobody seems to have read:

Ruling Tuesday, Judge Thomas D. Horne also said jurors may have gotten "lost" when navigating Virginia's new anti-spam law in the case of Jessica DeGroot. But Horne upheld the conviction of her brother, Jeremy Jaynes, who prosecutors said led the operation from his Raleigh, North Carolina, area home.

Seems to me we are not given enough information in this article to assess what the issue was in the specific conviction that was overturned. And I'm personally not familiar with the case. Does anyone know what the situation with the sister was? Did she merely live in the same house as a spammer?

Based on the article, she could have merely been in charge of canceling his magazine subscriptions. The article just indicates that the judge claimed the jury was confused in her case.

And I found an error in the story submission too:

Virginia Court Overturns Spammer Conviction s - Why is this last word plural?

Even the story submitters don't RTFA!

The linked story indicates no more than one overturned conviction, that of the sister. A third guy seems to have been involved but there is no mention of his being convicted, hence no overturned conviction.

Re:Look at me! I RTFA! (3, Informative)

Tuzy2k (523973) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830736)

Yes, I live in Virginia and have been following the case closely. If you scroll down several posts below this one you'll see I also posted this. Anywho:


THE SISTER WAS WRONGLY ACCUSED. The brother was the spammer here. He used his sisters credit card to purchase stuff over the internet to fund his spam business. Due to it being in her name she got dragged into the case by an overzealous prosecutor. The judge CORRECTLY fixed this error on the jury's part. THE SPAMMER IN THIS CASE WENT TO JAIL(the bother) I wish the friggin posters would RTFA sometimes...

Re:Look at me! I RTFA! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830756)

We can't take the chance that spamming is an inherited genetic trait. That gene pool must be chlorinated.

Re:Look at me! I RTFA! (0, Offtopic)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830843)

Yes, I live in Virginia and have been following the case closely. If you scroll down several posts below this one you'll see I also posted this.

Your post [slashdot.org] is currently at -1, like all your recent posts. What did you do? Capitalize too much?

THE SISTER WAS WRONGLY ACCUSED. The brother was the spammer here. He used his sisters credit card to purchase stuff over the internet to fund his spam business. Due to it being in her name she got dragged into the case by an overzealous prosecutor. The judge CORRECTLY fixed this error on the jury's part. THE SPAMMER IN THIS CASE WENT TO JAIL(the bother) I wish the friggin posters would RTFA sometimes...

A quick search using Google News makes me think you're right... [leesburg2day.com] the judge cited that the only case against the sister was the three credit card transactions with her name on them. And siblings are known for committing ID theft- what can you really do to your brother or sister? Other than kick his ass, but so what?

Just one more reason why you don't want people stealing your identity.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (1)

lowe0 (136140) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830684)

No, banning spam is not a free speech issue. We're not restricting what he or she can say. A spammer is more than welcome to walk into a crowded public square and start yelling out penis enlargement offers. Similarly, they can put up a website advertising these products. What they can't do is consume someone else's resources in order to send their message.

Only the minor conviction got overturned. (2, Informative)

darkonc (47285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830745)

His sister (who only got a $7,500 fine) had her conviction overturned -- apparently on a technicality. The primary conviction with the recommended 9 years in jail stood. I find this mostly annoying but acceptable. Given that it was a technicality, it's quite possible that it will be reversed again.

Re:Two ways to look at this ruling (0, Flamebait)

jbplou (732414) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830926)

I think it is a terrible injustice to make somebody spend 9 years in jail for sending spam. The article notes that they sent 10,000 emails in 3 days. That isn't really that many. For something slightly annoying that you have to delete if your filter doesn't catch it. Whats an injustice is people getting no time for drunk driving which indangers lives or 3rd degree murderers getting 5 years.

let em click (3, Funny)

Virtual Karma (862416) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830542)

But your honor, they have the option of cliking 'unsubscribe'. That way I know for sure that its a valid email id and i promise never to send another email to that id and also not sell it to my associates who are selling viagra

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830553)

Did the spammer bribe the judge with rolexes and penis enlargement pills?

wtf?! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830554)

Thats absolutely rediculous... this is another reason why the internet is too free... but as usual, the courts are in favor of the spammers because they will get money (lots of it!) from the spammers. Just another reason that money talks, and bullshit walks.

300 + spam per day (1, Funny)

alex_guy_CA (748887) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830561)

I say we get the email address of the judge who ruled this and make it available to all of the fine businesses who make me aware of their products all day every day.

Re:300 + spam per day (2, Interesting)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830594)

Look, spam is bad, but is it that hard to see a fine of $7500 for each piece of email is an unreasonable penalty? Would you also think that a $100,000 fine be appropriate for a person that stole $1?

Re:300 + spam per day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830639)

Would you also think that a $100,000 fine be appropriate for a person that stole $1?

No. The death penalty is more appropriate.

Re:300 + spam per day (1)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830673)

The judge did not write the law. The state wrote it. The judge's job is to uphold it.

Personally, I have always thought the 9 years was far too stiff. There are wife beaters, rapists, thugs and murderers that get far lighter sentences, and who deserve far more. Spammers have the ability to make millions of people a tiny bit miserable with their crime. Rapists have the ability to totally destroy a handful of people with their crime. Which is worse? Which is more needful of punishment? In these days of finite prison budgets, imprisoning which one makes society better off? I've even got the analysis -- to anyone who answered "spammer", you're far more selfish than I can even imagine.

Re:300 + spam per day (4, Insightful)

Steve B (42864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830728)

Spammers have the ability to make millions of people a tiny bit miserable with their crime.

Nope -- spammers have the ability to completely destroy e-mail as a usable medium of communication with their crime if not deterred. Nine years is, if anything, too lenient.

Re:300 + spam per day (1)

dheltzel (558802) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830798)

Would you also think that a $100,000 fine be appropriate for a person that stole $1?

Maybe so. The point of a penalty is that it have a deterrent effect. I think that would be a big deterrent. If the penalty for stealing $1 was only $2, then many people would take the risk of getting caught. The lower the chance of getting caught, the larger the penalty needs to be. Think of it as sort of a lottery, in reverse.

The way I look at this is that the person sending the Spam knows the penalty if caught. They decided to take their chances.

Re:300 + spam per day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830856)

Well if you say "Fuck" on live TV you'll soon wish your negligence caused the death of an infirmed person in your care, or that you caused several life threatening radiation leaks.

They're getting off cheap. They're stealing time and money from tens of millions. That adds up. And quick.

Re:300 + spam per day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830936)

$7500 nothing. You can file for bankruptcy for that... But what about the guy who's getting nine years in jail? I hate spammers as much as the next guy, but this guy only sent 10,000 emails. Are we going to put people who send 100,000 emails away for life? This length of a sentance seems ludicrous for the crime commited.

Six months to a year in jail would be more than sufficient to teach the guy a lesson so he will never commit the crime again.

I don't beleive in huge sentances which are designed to deter people from commiting a crime before theyc ommit it.

I beleive in fair sentances which fit the crime, and are intended to punish, and prevent reoffending.

It is injust to put someone away for nine years because they hit send and sent out a few megabytes of relatively harmless data.

amazing. (0, Flamebait)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830572)

i am completely blown away

this isn't a murder case where the jurors / judge might not have had someone close to them murdered, this is a spam case. every one of the jurors / judge has recieved loads of spam (unless they don't have an email address).

this case should hit so close to home that there should be no debate.

I wonder.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830573)

Does the judge have a large enough p3N15.
Perhaps he needs some extra advice on helping this condition.
I'm sure he needs a M0rtg4g3 or a L04N.
Will he need pr0n to excercise his new larger p3ni5.

Overturned? Recuse the licensious blackrobe lawyer (0)

NRAdude (166969) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830577)

The jury is authority. The people made their decision. The judge can do the same, but with a greater monopoly given he sits on the false-King's Banc. I say do unto the judge what the spammer does to people; and flaunt it as not punitive damage. It seems flase judges are with equal rational to the hardest core spammer: don't respond to your Ticket to the Freak Show and get arrested by a militant private notary; yay, sayeth the wicked!

10 lashes to the spammer, 10 lashes to that judge for having not taken the required Oath to uphold the Constitution for the united States of America while he sits in his licentious Office and coerces the entering of pleas and evidence. Truth; judges are only judges when they decide upon evidence brought to them, not coerced! Common law stands, to wit; all non-refuted testimony is fact.

Excellent News (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830581)

As a proud American and supporter of democracy and Capitalism this is only good.

If people get fed up - just change your email address - no big deal.

SPAM - that is advertising is innovating. if people get rich, then good on them. That is what Capitalism is all about.

A shame people forget about this. After all, its all about business and nothing else. People shouldn't be knocked back because they want to earn a dollar, and keep up with the american dream.

Re:Excellent News (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830636)

Nice troll, troll.

Commentary on trial at www.spamconference.org (4, Informative)

gvc (167165) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830582)

There's a very interesting video on the legal
aspects of this case available at
www.spamconference.org [spamconference.org]

You've Got Jail. Some First Hand Observations from the Jeremy Jaynes Spam Trial
Jon Praed, Founding Partner, Internet Law Group

In a nutshell, they convicted Jaynes' accomplice
based on the money trail and it wasn't all that
convincing. The evidence ruled inadmissable was
convincing, but not the evidence used to convict.

RTFA (5, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830589)

I know this is /., where not bothering to read before commenting is a badge of honor, but please...

The person whose conviction was overturned was the 'accomplice', Jessica DeGroot. The judge upheld the conviction of her brother, Jeremy Jaynes, who is said to have led the operation. He will indeed be remaining a guest of the state for the next few years.

Re:RTFA (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830800)

Yeah, the article text was stupidly alarmist. But, I guess we shouldn't expect any better of Slashdot, though I'd sure like to.

Great news indeed (2, Funny)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830597)

Now we can impose the death penality instead of the meager fine and short jail time.

Re:Great news indeed (1)

Reignking (832642) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830645)

And that's easy in Virginia -- #2 in the death penalty, behind Texas, of course...

Why can judges... (4, Insightful)

imemyself (757318) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830602)

Out of curiosity, how/why can judges overturn convictions? Isn't the whole point of having a jury so that one biased/stupid person doesn't have the ability to single-handedly find guilty/acquit someone?

Re:Why can judges... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830634)

Because judges are rational, juries are not.

Re:Why can judges... (2, Insightful)

hunterx11 (778171) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830685)

Letting someone arbitrary overturn convictions is not nearly the same as letting someone arbitrarily convict people. In cases where juries act egregiously (although that doesn't really seem to be the case here from what I've gleaned) and unfairly punish people, it seems sane to have a check on that power.

Re:Why can judges... (2, Informative)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830750)

First, no court or judge can overturn a verdict of "not guilty". That's the "double indemnity clause". You can't be tried twice for the same crime -- once you're found innocent, that's it.

An appellate judge has lots of options. They can look at the evidence themselves and decide that a guilty verdict was unfair (as in this case,) or they can look at the evidence and decide that the lower court failed to take it all into account and demand the case be retried. They can also look at the procedures as well as the people. A sleeping defense lawyer, a drunk judge, a jury foreman who was found to belong to the KKK, any number of things can go wrong at the lower court. The appellate judge has the responsibility and the power to set things straight.

It brings up a good discussion on the power of judges. For example, it's common practice in civil proceedings for the lawyers to go "judge shopping", which is to get their case heard in a jurisdiction that has a judge with a track record of siding with their client. (Criminal procedings typically take place where the crime was committed, and unless there's a public uproar the cases are almost never moved.)

I will say that every time I've been in a courtroom the judges have been universally, absolutely professional. I have never failed to be impressed by a judge's common sense approach. Lawyers will try their slick speeches on juries, defendants will come up with bullshit stories, and the judges I've seen simply have had no tolerance for any shenanigans. "Get to the point, please" has got to be the most commonly spoken phrase in court (except for "I didn't do nuthin', your Honor!")

Re:Why can judges... (1)

scheme (19778) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830758)

Out of curiosity, how/why can judges overturn convictions? Isn't the whole point of having a jury so that one biased/stupid person doesn't have the ability to single-handedly find guilty/acquit someone?

Except for a single biased/stupid person has the ability to single-handedly prevent someone from being found guilty. True, the judge will declare a hung jury and the prosecution can retry the the entire trial but there is a lot of power in each jury member's hands.

For minor crimes, the prosecution may even drop the case rather than retry it.

Re:Why can judges... (1)

jbplou (732414) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830937)

They can overturn convictions if they find the jurory did not follow the letter of the law. They can not overturn acquitals.

Just wait (2, Funny)

earthbound kid (859282) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830623)

The case will be overturned when it's revealed that Judge Thomas Horne received promises of several million dollars from an anonymous Nigerian benefactor in exchange for his help clearing a bank account. It's easy for us to look down on this sort of thing, but we need to realize that he needed the money because his wife left him because of he was being emailed by hot college coeds all the time. He tried to make it up to her by increasing the size of his sma1l p3n.i.s with he.rßal v1aggraa, but she left him before he got the drugs. Since then, he's had to remortgaged his home to afford prescription drugs like v4llium and viccodañ, but he really couldn't make ends meet.

Jaynes' conviction upheld; wife's overturned (1, Redundant)

gvc (167165) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830624)

The headline is wrong. Only one conviction was
overturned.

Jaynes, the perpetrator, had his appeal denied.

He's the major actor, and the only one that was
sentence to hard time in the first place.

Re:Jaynes' conviction upheld; wife's overturned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830720)

What this means is there is someone who helped spam whos out on the streets but knows someone thats serving time. Maybe they will help spread the word that spaming will get you busted.

Jurors didn't get it? (2, Informative)

CHESTER COPPERPOT (864371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830643)

Lawyers are supposed to be good at spinning up some sort of story or analogy to let people understand complex things.

Let me help our future Leesburg juror's with an analogy of my own: spammers are the equivalent to military electronic warfare jammers. They try to stop our productivity with enmasse information directly beamed into our communications infrastructure.

Forgive me fellow slashdotters but in former soviet russia the russian military had a rule that any attack against its communications infrastructure was the equivalent of a nuclear attack and therefore they went to higher defcon-equivalent. In an information age, spammers are attacking our communications infrastructure and we should be cracking down on them as hard as possible as well.

Jury of his peers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11830652)

shouldn't be primarily composed of peers who work with finger-tip-access or no-finger-tip-access cash registers.

While on jury duty, have you ever mingled with potential jurors?

Perhaps (3, Funny)

montypics (737391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830666)

Perhaps the judge doesn't administrate an email server. If he did, he'd surely be advocating the death penalty instead.

Oh Gawd (5, Informative)

Tuzy2k (523973) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830711)

The poster of this article has it ALL WRONG. I live in virginia and have been following this case closely. The main spammer in question who did all the spamming, setup the spamming business, and was responsible for 100% of it WAS CONVICTED AND SENT TO JAIL. HOWEVER, during this he used his sisters credit card to purchase hardware/broadband for his spamming operation which the prosecutor thought was grounds to convict her as well. The Judge threw out HER CONVICTION ONLY due to the fact that he was convinced she had no part of it and didn't realize what the stuff her brother was buying was to be used to. THE HEAD SPAMMER DIDNT GET OFF, ONLY HIS (possibly) WRONGLY ACCUSED SISTER DID. Good lord, I wish the fuggin slashdot POSTERS would RTFA sometimes....

No Rational Basis? (0)

Prometheus+Bob (755514) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830715)

If there was no rational basis for this verdict, why didnt the judge throw out the case to begin with as opposed to after the verdict was given?

TFA is not detailed enough (3, Informative)

imaginaryelf (862886) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830729)

If you RTFA (yeah right), you know that the main spammer, Jeremy Jaynes, remains convicted.

It is his sister, Jessica DeGroot, who had her conviction overturned. Unfortunately, TFA is rather short on details.

Here is a better article: http://www.leesburg2day.com/current.cfm?catid=19&n ewsid=10300 [leesburg2day.com]

It goes on explain why DeGroot's conviction was overturned. The only piece of evidence that the prosecutor presented against her is a credit card statement showing purchases of those domain names used by the spammers. However her lawyers contend that it doesn't prove that she actually made the purchases; her brother or someone else could've used her card to purchase those domain names.

How can you prove a negative? (1)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830799)

"Jaynes' attorney, David A. Oblon, had argued that the spamming was not conducted in Virginia and that there was no evidence that e-mails were unsolicited."

What kind of evidence would you like, Mr. Attorney? Would you like to look through my Sent box to see if you see any requests for C!al!s or V!4gr4? What, you don't see any, but that doesn't prove anything, for I could have deleted the evidence?

I also happen to be not walking down the street soliciting strangers to punch me in the face. So if someone does that is his defense lawyer going to say, "look, there's no evidence that this punch was unsolicited"?

Re:How can you prove a negative? (2, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830865)

not that this really has anything to do with this case..

but 9 years for spamming is a bit rough(and frigging expensive on the system). who would you like to spend more time in jail.. the guy who blackmailed money from you(or busted your kneecaps and took some dough for future protection) or the guy who sent you some mail you didn't ask for(electronically too, so you didn't carry it from the mailbox).

if it was just a year or two would make the same effect.. what matters in cutting the spam is not the amount of jailtime that individual people who use spam to do SCAMS do, it's the amount of people who send spam that you catch(1 guy doing 10 years doesn't cut spam as much as 10 guys doing even 1 month).

In Defense of Spam (-1, Redundant)

coshx (687751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830804)

Laws against spam trouble me. While I am just as annoyed as the next guy to receive unsolicited offers in my email, should the government really have a place in controlling how I am allowed to send emails? Besides the fact that governmental regulations on technology are often outdated and change too slowly, there are some grave consequences of allowing these laws.
Laws always have loopholes, but to use these you need lawyers, so email would become yet another medium flooded by corporate advertising.
More importantly, this opens the door for tougher regulations on email, such as restricting encryption (killing privacy) or content (censoring).
Should I be allowed to stand on the street corner and hand out copies of Common Sense that I bought? If you don't want them, you can simply ignore me. Why is email a different medium, then? If you don't want an email, don't open it. Or set up a filtering system whereby you only see the email you want. I believe this is the angle we should take against spam.

Why in the first place? (1)

OccidentalSlashy (809265) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830815)

Why are coupon circulars just part of the commercial landscape (our taxes literally subsidize the US post office, not that I'm complaining), but spamming my email box supposed to be worse, legally, than rape or murder?

If this line of thinking was applied to, say, food, we'd still think nothing of getting offered tasty free samples in the supermarket, but we would scream ourselves red and blue when someone did it on the street.

I'd also expect that if Microsoft would just build a Bayesian filter into its current version of Outlook, spamming would no longer be profitable and would disappear; isn't it a complete waste of our tax dollars to use the legal system to imprison a nonviolent scoundrel or two, because the company that sells the email client can't bring itself to design a filter against viruses and spam?

Why! (1)

blobzorz (864386) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830822)

Spam is bad and the most legal of legal actions should be taken against it. The Virginiains will learn though, that spam is very bad. ---- http://onticfusion.sytes.net/ [sytes.net]

Nothing new here (2, Funny)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830835)

The average juror's biggest selling point is their lack of intelligence and their ability to be led.

The average judge, while more intelligent, enjoys setting precedents.

Put the two together and you've got the 9th circuit out in California ;_)

(Yes I just received my jury summons... I don't think I'll make it tho...)

Burden of proof... (1)

AndyChrist (161262) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830859)

IANALIANALIANAL!!!

So in order to get a conviction, the prosecutors have to prove that the recipients of the emails DIDN'T do something? (Because they're looking for evidence they were unsolicited, and not for evidence that they weren't, so the spammer doesn't have to produce crap)

I think the law needs to be reworded. The only way a conviction will ever stand up if this this is the case is if someone has a verifiable record of attempts to get the emails to stop. And even then it might be hard to prove that future emails came from the same source.

Let's change the judge's mind... (0, Troll)

Frodo Crockett (861942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830871)

...by sending him thousands of hardcopies of spam! Send your letters to: Judge Thomas D. Horne 18 E. Market St. Leesburg, VA 20176

ahh Virginia... (3, Interesting)

coshx (687751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830873)

ahh Virginia...

Where drunk driving nets you a slap on the wrist (7 day license suspension, misdemeanor -- Virginia Driver's Manual [state.va.us] [pg. 30]) and spamming sends you to jail.

I'm glad to see we have our priorities straight, and the dangerous people are being kept away from the rest of us.

Quick question (2, Funny)

BobSutan (467781) | more than 9 years ago | (#11830978)

Allow me to ask this simple question: why is someone sending unsolicited email to you a crime, but selling your personal information to someone who sends unsolicited email not? Or to be more precise (in regards to ChoicePoint), someone allowing your personal information to be handled by crooks.

If you ask me, our personal privacy initiatives are more than a bit skewed, and with the estimated 600 man hours it takes a victim of identity theft to recover from said crime, someone needs to be held accountable. Then again, if our privacy laws made sense it'd be illegal to sell a citizen's personal information without their consent. The beneficial side-effect would be the removal of everyone's email addresses from the hands of spammers. After all, where do you think they get their information from? That's right, data warehouses (just like ChoicePoint).
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