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Virginia Spammers Go To Jail, And Pay For It

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the giving-the-ham-both-barrels dept.

326

An anonymous reader writes "A Virginia appeals court has upheld the first felony conviction under a state anti-spam law. In the process, the court also suggested that spam recipients might be able to sue spammers for money damages. According to the court, taxing a person's servers with unwanted e-mails is a form of trespass, little different than intruding on their land or making unwanted use of their private property. Perhaps because of this decision, spammers will soon find themselves on the receiving end of a million dollar class action suit."

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ObNelson (1, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#16065425)

Ha-ha!

Re:ObNelson (1)

Fordiman (689627) | about 8 years ago | (#16065453)

*jumps and sings*

Yayyyy! The sons of bitches are getting some punishment for being sons of bitches! I wonder what the buzz on the spammer boards is now (hehehe).

Re:ObNelson (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065491)

I read the title as "Virgin Spammers". Well, not for long! Brown wings ahoy!

Re:ObNelson (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065533)

And if they dont have money what good is a two million dollar class action suit?

Re:ObNelson (3, Insightful)

tritonman (998572) | about 8 years ago | (#16065584)

Not that I'm on the side of the spammers, but saying that sending an unwanted email is the same thing as trespassing on someone's private property is just ludicrous. So what's next? In Texas, where you can shoot someone for trespassing, can you now shoot anyone who sends you an email that you didn't want? Does this include your cousing who keeps sending you those stupid chain letters???

Re:ObNelson (5, Funny)

bigdavesmith (928732) | about 8 years ago | (#16065666)

I for one am in favor of the death penalty for anyone who sends me an e-card with a big-headed cat and a song composed entirely of 'meows'. I'm coming for you, Aunt Jane.

Nine years for annoying AOL Customers.... (4, Funny)

Sting_TVT (959719) | about 8 years ago | (#16065428)

God, how many years will the "You've got Mail" voice actor get?

Re:Nine years for annoying AOL Customers.... (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | about 8 years ago | (#16065561)

Elwood Edwards is the voice actor. Why would he get time? He was annoying, but you asked for that service when you signed up with AOL. And don't tell me you never got excited when you heard those three magical words.

Appropriate Response (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065432)

YAY!!!!!

Re:Appropriate Response (5, Insightful)

Fordiman (689627) | about 8 years ago | (#16065470)

Judge Wolf: (this law is too broad because) "You purchase an e-mail address list, alter the transmission information in the header of your e-mail to avoid retaliation, and on Easter morning send out a three-word e-mail to thousands of people: 'Christ is risen!' You have committed a felony in Virginia,"

Well, yeah. Religious spam is still spam, you hick.

Re:Appropriate Response (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 8 years ago | (#16065522)

I wonder if Judge Wolf has gotten any mail from those Nigerian spammers who append "God blessing you" to all their 419 scams.

Re:Appropriate Response (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065574)

The appropriate response to Judge Wolf would be that Christ told us to visit those in jail, not to keep them out in the first place. Break the law, go to jail *is* part of Christ's message.

Re:Appropriate Response (1)

cultrhetor (961872) | about 8 years ago | (#16065801)

I'm wondering why - with all of the concern around here for people's rights to free speech - this isn't posted in the YRO section... I'm no fan of spam, but a spamming e-mail message is just like a junk mail circular - you might get ripped off, you might actually buy something, but most people just delete it, or block it.

Re:Appropriate Response (1)

cultrhetor (961872) | about 8 years ago | (#16065823)

My fault - my newsreader hadn't caught up yet.

So if we have VOIP (5, Interesting)

joshetc (955226) | about 8 years ago | (#16065434)

Does that mean we can sue telemarketers? The last couple of years I've found them to be far more annoying than spammers. Spam is more easily blocked and can be taken care of on my time. Telemarketers though, I have to choose between getting up during dinner / sleeping to answer the phone or dealing with the damn thing ringing every 5 minutes.

I'm still glad to see some spammers in jail though. I hope they all rot in prison then in hell.

Re:So if we have VOIP (2, Informative)

Silver Sloth (770927) | about 8 years ago | (#16065465)

Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment, how many times do I have to tell people I don't do business that way, framing the law is significantly more complex. Here in the UK the TPS http://mpsonline.org.uk/tps/ [mpsonline.org.uk] should prevent the majority of telemarketers, and
Under Government legislation introduced on 1st May 1999 and replaced on 11th December 2003 by the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003, it is unlawful to make unsolicited direct marketing calls to individuals who have indicated that they do not want to receive such calls.
so I guess you've got your wish. The difference is that you've got to make the effort.

Re:So if we have VOIP (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 8 years ago | (#16065640)

Except that the telemarketers found a way around it.

I've been getting calls to my cell phone no less; they claim they got my # when I used a credit card at a gas station. They're calling to give me '$40 of free gas.' Now if they really wanted to send it to me, all they have to do is drop it in the mail. But for some reason they call and need me to give them my information. Oh no, they aren't trying to sell me something though..

Re:So if we have VOIP (1)

Xzerix (977030) | about 8 years ago | (#16065657)

Yes, we (the UK) have the telephone preference service.

But does it stop the b******s calling from the other side of the world? No.

Anyone who interrupts my Sci-Fi marathons should be shot. Hung. Drawn. Quartered. Castrated. Boiled in Sulfuric Acid.

then I'll get cross...

Re:So if we have VOIP (2, Informative)

tddoog (900095) | about 8 years ago | (#16065472)

Have you registered with the do not call registry? [donotcall.gov]

Since registering I can't remember getting a single telemarketing call. I don't think it applies to politicians though, surprise.

Re:So if we have VOIP (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | about 8 years ago | (#16065577)

Seriously. I registered when it first came out and we still get calls. My friends still get calls. It's not as much, but we still get calls.

Re:So if we have VOIP (2, Funny)

tddoog (900095) | about 8 years ago | (#16065602)

Man, that just makes me feel unpopular. Even telemarketers don't like me.

Re:So if we have VOIP (1)

allacds (567636) | about 8 years ago | (#16065620)

From the www.donotcall.gov website --
"The National Do Not Call Registry does not limit calls by political organizations, charities, or telephone surveyors."
"A telemarketer or seller may call a consumer with whom it has an established business relationship for up to 18 months after the consumer's last purchase, delivery, or payment - even if the consumer's number is on the National Do Not Call Registry"

Finally -- "30. What happens to companies that don't pay for access to the registry?

A company that is a seller or telemarketer could be liable for placing any telemarketing calls (even to numbers NOT on the registry) unless the seller has accessed the registry and paid the fee, if required. Violators may be subject to fines of up to $11,000 per violation. Each call may be considered a separate violation."

So in summary -- if you are still getting calls, first tell any telemarketer calls you get to remove you from their lists. Then if they continue to call, file a complaint against them at the aforementioned website.

Re:So if we have VOIP (2, Interesting)

bigdavesmith (928732) | about 8 years ago | (#16065758)

The problem with the do not call registry is that they are still allowed to call if it is a charitable or political call, I believe. At least, those are the ones I still get.

I don't mind the political ones, because they make the elections way easier. I keep a list of every politician I get a call from, and don't vote for them.

The charity ones are very annoying though. I get at least a call a week from some charity wanting to know if they can count on my donation. Donations start at just $25. Surely I can afford that. Can they put me down for a $25 donation?

Re:So if we have VOIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065511)

Buy an answering machine. Problem solved.

Re:So if we have VOIP (1)

Intron (870560) | about 8 years ago | (#16065672)

I know a guy who worked on the software for differentiating "Hello? (rising tone, pause)..." from "Hi. I'm not here right now." so that the calls that are answered by a human get put through to the telemarketer (or recorded message) and the others get dumped. If you want to fake out the machines, answer the phone "Hi. This is Intron. I'm home right now. Who's calling, please?"

You have another choice (1)

njdj (458173) | about 8 years ago | (#16065671)

Telemarketers though, I have to choose between getting up during dinner / sleeping to answer the phone or dealing with the damn thing ringing every 5 minutes.

Another possibility is to leave your phone permanently connected to an answering machine. The message tells the caller to communicate with you by email.

You can take it off the machine if you are expecting a specific call.

I'd guess from your post that you would feel uncomfortable with this solution - you may feel that if someone wants to be able to reach you urgently, they should be able to do so. I'm just pointing out that this is your choice.

If they break the law! (1)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | about 8 years ago | (#16065696)

In the USA, if these telemarketers break the law, you can sue. That is the idea behind the law -- if you don't obey, there is a penalty.

Re:So if we have VOIP (-1, Flamebait)

tomstdenis (446163) | about 8 years ago | (#16065788)

No, annoying is stupid fuckin asians (Li Yu, Yung Bi Fong, etc) from Toronto, calling my VoIP number [also in Toronto] at 2am thinking it's a calling card #.

Look you stupid "gooks", put the calling card # in your phone's memory. Then memory dial the damn thing. God damn...

How you tell a FOB from a native? Natives will apologize for the wrong #, fobs just hang up on you....

Tom

There's an easy solution... (4, Funny)

glesga_kiss (596639) | about 8 years ago | (#16065838)

...just talk dirty to them. Ask them what they are wearing. If it's a girl, ask if she is wearing tights and whether she is menstrating just now. They won't be phoning you back ever again and it's not an obscene call as they dialed you. Everybody wins!!

Another classic would be a three-way call, though I've never done this with an incoming sales call. Simply put them through to the customer service desk of one of their competitors. Sit back and laugh as they argue with each other.

Other people suggested get an answerphone. That's just not practical for most people. If the volume of sales calls grows over the volume of personal ones then it might be worth it. But I don't want to spend the rest of my days listening to short "could you call me back?" messages from friends. If I'm going to be doing their tech support they might as well be paying for the call! ;-)

A more suitable punishment... (3, Funny)

creimer (824291) | about 8 years ago | (#16065439)

Would be to have the spammers make and eat spam (the meat) all day while the prison guards sing about the joys of spam.

Re:A more suitable punishment... (2, Funny)

LoTechDave (999425) | about 8 years ago | (#16065648)

I would like to know the name of these clowns and address of the correctional facility they are at so I could post it for /.ers. My idea of a more suitable punishment includes receiving 30-40 postcards a day while in jail. On the postcards we could attempt to sell useful products like 'eyes for the back of your head", soap on a rope, removable tatoos of tits, and of course 'Prison Spam' which has grill marks that look like bars.

Trespassing (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065447)

taxing a person's servers with unwanted e-mails is a form of trespass

Does this mean if I receive spam from him, I'm legally allowed to shoot him?

Re:Trespassing (3, Funny)

phalse phace (454635) | about 8 years ago | (#16065543)

Only in Texas

Re:Trespassing (1)

everett (154868) | about 8 years ago | (#16065573)

And Florida, but you have to cram him inside your server first.

ouch (1)

v1ncent (997828) | about 8 years ago | (#16065450)

Ouch! 9 years... do it to 'em!

Re:ouch (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | about 8 years ago | (#16065591)

Now they'll get unsolicited sex ads, except it won't be ads, and they can't ignore it.

Good, now adapt this to Regular Mail (3, Insightful)

MBC1977 (978793) | about 8 years ago | (#16065451)

This is great, because personally, I'm tired of advertisements I don't want (i.e Viagra, GetRichQuick,

other assorted unwanted ads. Now if we could adapt this law to work on the physical mailbox, I

would not have keep throwing away junk mail and other stupid stuff, like how many DISH Network offers

does one really need, much less use.

I realise it may they be trying to make a living, but not at the expense of my peace of mind.

Regards,

MBC1977,

(US Marine, College Student, and Good Guy!)

Re:Good, now adapt this to Regular Mail (2, Informative)

tddoog (900095) | about 8 years ago | (#16065499)

Be careful what you wish for. Bulk mailing helps subsidize the current mail system. Without it, either prices would go up or there would be a reduction in service (mail delivery every other day). Remember the USPS is one of the few gov't organizations that supports itself without taxes. All of the bureaucracy and none of the pork.

Re:Good, now adapt this to Regular Mail (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | about 8 years ago | (#16065611)

I thought the post office broke away from the government and that's why prices keep increasing. Also isn't that why its http://www.usps.com/ [usps.com] instead of http://www.usps.gov [usps.gov] ?

Re:Good, now adapt this to Regular Mail (1)

mrbcs (737902) | about 8 years ago | (#16065526)

In my little town, all I have to do is tell the Post Office that I don't want junk mail. I get none at all now.

Re:Good, now adapt this to Regular Mail (1)

Aladrin (926209) | about 8 years ago | (#16065548)

We tried that in our 'little town' and the answer was 'they've paid to have it delivered, and we have to deliver it.'

Re:Good, now adapt this to Regular Mail (1)

Seanasy (21730) | about 8 years ago | (#16065713)

You have the right to refuse mail [usps.com] . I wonder what would happen if you just started refusing every piece of junk mail that came. Maybe they would decide it's easier to just not deliver any to you.

Re:Good, now adapt this to Regular Mail (1)

nickmue (905710) | about 8 years ago | (#16065844)

You saw how bad Newman flipped out on Kramer for trying that didn't you??

The Advertifascists... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 8 years ago | (#16065691)

Now you're on to something. Leave it to a US Marine to get right to the heart of the matter (thanks, MBC1977).

We are assaulted every minute with billboards, radio & TV commercials, ads on web pages, promotional t-shirts, commercials in movie theatres where I've just paid $10.00 to see a movie (with product placements).

The proliferation of advertising affects our lives far more, and with much worse effect, than terrorism (despite the fear-mongering from the Right).

I'm not saying we should close up the free market, but we should at least be having the conversation about the damage this supposedly "free" market is having on our lives and the lives of people living in complete poverty around the world.

I know they say it's not possible, but I try to do my best to not only ignore advertising, but to behave in the opposite manner from its intended purpose. I will never again go to Burger King, McDonald's, get insurance from Geico, etc etc.

My Dear Old Dad got a stove (1)

Hasai (131313) | about 8 years ago | (#16065836)

His junk mail got so bad, he installed a small, German-made, wood/coal-burning stove. He now uses all that junk mail to help heat his house.

]XD

Re:Good, now adapt this to Regular Mail (1)

nephillim (980798) | about 8 years ago | (#16065856)

Actually you can have a bit of fun with the real mail spammers by mailing random things back to them in those nice, prepaid, stamped envelopes. I have noticed a decline in the amount of junk mail I get since I started mailing their own mailings back, food wrappers, slices of american cheese, bannana peels, ... back to them. .... I would NOT advise you to try flour/baking soda !!!

Suing the spammer (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | about 8 years ago | (#16065454)

Disclaimer: I didn't RTFA

So how will this work? Will it only apply if the spammer is in the US? I doubt I'd be able to sue someone from Korea...

Re:Suing the spammer (1)

dingofish (1001222) | about 8 years ago | (#16065667)

Well... If he come to a visit in US, I guess they can pick him up after customs. :-)
It's probably similar to the BetOnSport's Peter Dick case?

Now that's what I call justice (2, Funny)

jimstapleton (999106) | about 8 years ago | (#16065456)

but if I sued someone like that, I wouldn't want to sue for money. Since the crime is spam, I wanna sue for meat. Let me bring in a knife or sword for the verdit if I'm successful, I'll carry out the sentance for free... I think the digits will do nicely (and prevent more spam)

Re:Now that's what I call justice (1)

morie (227571) | about 8 years ago | (#16065565)

Learn from your classics. Be sure to sue for some blood and other spilled bodily fluids as well...

Oh, come on! (4, Insightful)

tygerstripes (832644) | about 8 years ago | (#16065461)

a form of trespass, little different than intruding on their land or making unwanted use of their private property.
Look, I'm all for spammers getting ass-raped by rhinos or whatever, but to suggest that emailing someone is equivalent to trespass??!? Just how out-of-touch and confused does the state have to get with technology before they're sat down in an electric chair in front of a monitor, with a sticky on its side saying "Learn"?

This is a totally spurious comparison. Firstly it is the confluence of internet/SM protocols, not the spammer, that puts the email on your server - although in the vast majority of these cases, you can believe that the recipient doesn't own the server at all. In those cases, the analogy would be more like "little different than sending them lots of junkmail which, when they feel like it, they can go down to the local post office to collect and bin".

For those who do own their mail servers - corporations, freelancers or other particularly tooled-up individuals - it's like dumping a shit-load of mail on their doorstep - again, through the postal service, which is an impartial, autonomous service that we deeply value!!

This spam is in no way infringing the rights or security of its recipients. It is a minor inconvenience, as is any form of junk mail, and when requested to desist it is illegal, just as is unsolicited junkmail when you so request (at least, in the UK). As such, yes, it should be punished. Is it entirely necessary, however, to confuse and inflame the issue with such shitty, uninformed, unqualified comparisons? And this from a court? Shit, they're supposed to be more responsible with language than anyone else in the country - what the hell does this guy think he's doing??

Re:Oh, come on! (4, Insightful)

tinkerghost (944862) | about 8 years ago | (#16065490)

Take a look at it again. The biggest filter on prosecutablity is that you have to forge the headers you can send out spam all day every day as long as you are honest about where it's coming from. If you lie about where it's coming from, it's fraud and prosecutable. Check the laws again, you can put no return address on an envelope and it's fine, but if you put somebody else's address on it it's mail fraud. This is no different.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

Eccles (932) | about 8 years ago | (#16065588)

Not to mention the people who use someone else's address in the reply-to field. I periodically get mailer-daemon messages because some asshat has decided that an e-mail address using my personal domain is perfect for his/her reply-to address.

That being said, I would prefer large fines, internet restrictions, (maybe)house arrest, and a short prison spell (as a warning) as an alternative to spending the cost of a good college degree keeping him locked up for years.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

Fordiman (689627) | about 8 years ago | (#16065498)

"you can believe that the recipient doesn't own the server at all"

Well, not exactly. The user leases a portion of the server for the purpose of recieving mail. The spammer, through his actions, has spam on your property. It's more like flinging baseballs at your mailbox several times a day.

Still, after the bluefrog debacle, I'm all for blood. Jail's too nice for these spammers (though as you said, getting ass raped by large men named 'rhino' is a good first step).

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

stubear (130454) | about 8 years ago | (#16065551)

Wrong. When I put up a no trespass sign I'm setting limits on who can come onto my property. I'm likely going to allow family and friends to ignore the sign but everyone else better stay off or they'll get an ass full of buckshot. If someone were to disguise themselves as my brother and come onto my property it would still be trespass, I don't care how much they look like him. E-mail works the same way. I'm willing to allow a certain amount of e-mail come onto my server as long as they properly identify themselves. Spammers fail to do so and in fact they purposely forge headers to get past the virtual "no trespass" sign. You're making the incorrect assumption that all spammers are going to play by the rules and properly identify their e-mail. Guess what?

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | about 8 years ago | (#16065613)

Fine, so they're being naughty and pretending they're someone else. They're still not "entering your property", are they? If someone who is committing mail fraud with incorrect return addresses keeps sending you mail, it's irritating. It is most definitely not fucking trespass, and an ass full of buckshot is a criminally disproportionate response. You could shoot the mailman, you could go to the originator's house and shoot them, but clearly both are entirely inappropriate when the law has sufficient measures to prevent and counteract such problems.

I'm not objecting to the fact that this irritant is illegal and should be punished. My issue is with the unbelievably inflammatory and ignorant statement made by the court regarding email and trespass. It certainly is not the same thing and, unlike trespass, there is no implicit threat to your safety - or, let's face it, to property. It's just damned annoying.

Even with the sternest of signs, you can't stop a determined trespasser except by force, and I can see why you might want a shotgun as a deterrent. You invite and encourage mail and email, open forms of communication, and there is no way they can harm you (not talking about virii, trojans etc - whole other ballgame). Such a huge fucking difference!

harm is a relative word (1)

nead (258866) | about 8 years ago | (#16065879)

and there is no way they can harm you

I run a business where I pay for my bandwidth as well as the salaries of the people who manage it. 40% of email is spam [washingtonpost.com] and it costs me $250k a year to manage it.

While there may not be any physical harm arising from this action there is most certainly economic harm. So what is it then, stealing or trespassing? I say both.

Re:Oh, come on! (2, Insightful)

finity (535067) | about 8 years ago | (#16065587)

I think this is just one of many examples of how the current set of US laws is unfit to deal with issues in cyberspace. Right now, we adopt laws to fit the crime, and come up with (often poor) analogies to make them fit. I'm glad some spammers got busted; spam is anoying and, truly, if someone throws out enough spam, it can act as a form of denial of service. At the same time, though, we need to come up with a new way to govern cyberspace. One where the penalties fit the crime, and one that can move much more quickly than the US judicial system.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 8 years ago | (#16065633)

It boggles the mind how out of touch most political figures are with what could be considered basic modern technology. Flipping through the channels on TV a few days ago I caught a news program interviewing (IIRC) the mayor of Boston MA. I guess there was some poor schmuck who had the same name as him and a Blog with a url of his name. Apparently this guy was getting oodles of political hate mail from people who mistook him for the mayor.

The Journalist was taking some pleasure in poking fun at the mayor's lack of computer literacy. Do you have a website? "No", Do you have an email address? "No", Have you ever Googled anything? "I google... 24" (the number of the station)"... see what you guys are up to." Do you read any blogs? "I'll blog you in the head". It was incredible to watch the guy it he acted like he was on trial for something. Heck even my 75 year old Grandmother has an email address, shops online and visits blogs on cooking recipes. A politicians my father's age should be much more well versed in that stuff. Heck my father isn't even close to the most computer savvy person around but he's got a website for his business and uses his computer for a number of things.

Re:Oh, come on! (4, Insightful)

AaronLawrence (600990) | about 8 years ago | (#16065687)

Maybe trespass is a bad analog, BUT it can be much worse than a minor inconvenience. Companies have had to shut down email addresses (like sales@wherever) because they are overwhelmed with spam. Like 1000 or more spams per day. Having to close and redirect one of your major customer contact methods isn't minor inconvenience.

Anyone with such an address that has to be listed for public contact suffers from spam, and they can't use aggressive filters because they can't afford to lose customer email.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 8 years ago | (#16065708)

but to suggest that emailing someone is equivalent to trespass??!? Just how out-of-touch and confused does the state have to get with technology before they're sat down in an electric chair in front of a monitor, with a sticky on its side saying "Learn"?

Tresspass can be classfied as 'making unwanted use of their private property.' They are 'making use' of my computer when it downloads THEIR message, and their message is also unwanted. I think it fits nicely.

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 8 years ago | (#16065734)

Firstly it is the confluence of internet/SM protocols, not the spammer, that puts the email on your server

Ugh. So the message he wanted to send 'magically' appeared, with no effort from him. Your argument is that its ok to send mail bombs via the USPS. After all, its not the Unibomber, is the 'network of mail carrying stations that delivered the message to his mailbox.'

Re:Oh, come on! (1)

Peyna (14792) | about 8 years ago | (#16065750)

but to suggest that emailing someone is equivalent to trespass

Trespass to chattels [wikipedia.org] (personal property) is what they are probably referring to, which is different than trespassing on real property. Another way to think of it would be "interference with personal property." In other words, by spamming these servers, the spammers have deprived the owner of the full use of his property and therefore he should be compensated appropriately.

Similar to the argument made by Intel in Intel v. Hamidi [findlaw.com] . Although, I think Intel lost that one, but it was on a much smaller scale and the California Supreme Court basically said unless the computer system is damaged or has its functioning impaired, the plaintiff would be SOL.

Re:Oh, come on! (5, Interesting)

argle2bargle (794789) | about 8 years ago | (#16065812)

"This spam is in no way infringing the rights or security of its recipients. It is a minor inconvenience, as is any form of junk mail"

I couldn't disagree more. When you say it is little different from 'lots' of junkmail. Imagine if 6 18wheelers pulled up to your house and dumped TONS of junkmail on your doorstep, literally so much junkmail that you cannot open your front door. In fact, you have to hire an expensive service to remove the junkmail, as well as buying a larger house to accomodate the junkmail as it arrives. Oh and by the way, some of that junk mail contains anthrax, which if it gets missed by the service which you had to hire, will infect your family.

It is definately trespass.

My small companies email server has to block/process 247,000 spam emails in just the past two months, totalling 67 percent of all the email on the server. On some days the percent of spam reaches 90 percent. Even though it is blocked, this costs my bandwidth and my servers memory/cpu. It costs my company money.

It is NOT postal mail (4, Insightful)

dereference (875531) | about 8 years ago | (#16065881)

For those who do own their mail servers - corporations, freelancers or other particularly tooled-up individuals - it's like dumping a shit-load of mail on their doorstep - again, through the postal service, which is an impartial, autonomous service that we deeply value!!

Joke? Troll? This is a terribly misguided analogy, as I shall demostrate by haiku:

We pay for bandwidth
consumed by inbound e-mail
but don't pay postage

Big difference. This is why junk faxes are illegal; they use toner, paper, and they tie up the phone line. There are actual real expenses involved with receiving spam. we need more bandwidth and bigger servers. And yes, in cases where end customers are involved, the expenses are passed on to them as well, even though it's not their servers or bandwidth.

Re:Oh, come on! (4, Informative)

wayne (1579) | about 8 years ago | (#16065885)

a form of trespass, little different than intruding on their land or making unwanted use of their private property.
... but to suggest that emailing someone is equivalent to trespass??!? Just how out-of-touch and confused does the state have to get with technology before they're sat down in an electric chair in front of a monitor, with a sticky on its side saying "Learn"?

Yes, "making unwanted use of their property" is a form of trespassing, known as Trespass to chattels [wikipedia.org] , which is a well defined legal concept that has been around for hundreds of years. "Chattel [wikipedia.org] " is the archaic legal term for personal property, in contrast with land or real estate.

Having watched the talks given at the last several years of MIT Spam Conferences [spamconference.org] , I can safely say that the people involved with drafting Virginia's anti-spam laws and prosecuting this particular spammer have a very good understanding of technology in general, and email in particular. They probably have a better understanding than than the average slashdot user. As horrible as it may be for some geeks to imagine, yes, there are a lot of lawyers that are very smart and can learn very technical stuff.

Firstly it is the confluence of internet/SM protocols, not the spammer, that puts the email on your server - although in the vast majority of these cases, you can believe that the recipient doesn't own the server at all.

You seem to have a very fuzzy concept of the internet and protocols. When someone puts a packet out on the net, they are, indeed, knowingly creating a process that will result in the packet ending up on the receiving computer's network port. It may not be the same exact electrons, but that is irrelevant. And, I assure you that AOL owns their servers and they are the ones that received the spam. Yes, customers of AOL rent the mailboxes from them, but AOL still has legal rights to the servers. This is no different than a hotel or apartment owner that rents out rooms/apartments. They still have legal rights to their property.

Not everyone likes the idea of applying the age old concept of Trespass to Chattels to the internet, for example, the EFF sees problems with it [eff.org] . I agree with the EFF on most things, and have contributed money to them, but in the area of spam, they act too much like chicken-little. The Virginia anti-spam law was narrowly taylored and well thought out. It is a shame that it large parts of it have been overridden by the much worse federal CAN-SPAM act.

Re:Oh, come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065893)

And to show how much Virginia cares about public property, you can erect a fence on the border between yours and a neighbor's land and legally charge them half of the cost with no limit. But spam is over the line.

Since it's virtual trespassing... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#16065469)

...am I allowed to virtually shoot (i.e. DDoS) him? Just tell me, trigger fingers are ready and armed...

Re:Since it's virtual trespassing... (1)

ohearn (969704) | about 8 years ago | (#16065731)

No, a virtual shooting similar to someone trespassing is just a regular DoS attack. When you go for Distributed DoS attacks its more like a firing squad.

Wow, now the taxpayers of Virginia have to pay for (3, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 8 years ago | (#16065524)

their upkeep. Keeping a prisoner isn't cheap either, and really, is prison the answer? Prisons are already overcrowded, not to mention a breeding ground for HIV. While I hate spammers, I don't think they deserved to be shived or deserve to contract some horrible disease(which puts a further burden on the already overburdened health care system) because they spammed.

Garnishing their wages for the rest of their lives and a significant period of house arrest either without an internet connection or with a heavily monitored connection(with restrictions on the services they can use) are both cheaper and more humane without letting the spammer go off scott free.

Re:Wow, now the taxpayers of Virginia have to pay (1)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | about 8 years ago | (#16065650)

I'm actually against prisons, period. They punish the victims as well as the criminals (through costly taxation), and never fit the crime (with the possible exception of kidnapping).

A spammer should be made to pay for the resources and timet he has cost every victim. Have him send five bucks to every resident of Virginia and let him make an honest living after that.

Re:Wow, now the taxpayers of Virginia have to pay (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | about 8 years ago | (#16065689)

Prison, as you point out, is seldom the appropriate answer. It is horrendously expensive and has a high recidivism rate. However it does satisfy the Laura Norder brigade and the very human desire to 'lock them up and throw away the key'. No politician ever won votes by proposing that prison sentences be replaced by more effective means of punishment, and, at the end of the day, that's what counts.

Jailing spammers (2, Insightful)

massysett (910130) | about 8 years ago | (#16065552)

I really see no point in jailing spammers. Sure, I hate spam, but come on, is it worth spending tens of thousands of dollars a year of public money to house and feed a spammer? It would be better to impose monetary penalties, or to take measures to ensure the perpetrators won't spam again. Put them under court supervision.

Jailing people is expensive, and it should be reserved for persons who are a danger to the safety of others. Jailing a spammer is a waste of money--those tens of thousands of dollars would be better spent on funding technological anti-spam measures.

Hmm (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 8 years ago | (#16065553)

How come telemarketers who really disturb your life in some way get jackshit yet spammers get all hell let loose on them? Maybe it's just me but does anyone else find spam is a non-issue when you have a good spam filter kept up to date and get to laugh at the odd one or two a week that do get through?

Also what are these "damages" for exactly? Having to use 10 seconds of your time to delete an e-mail and use up a tiny bit of extra bandwidth?

Sorry but this just doesn't make sense to me. Yes I hate spam, yes I think it should be stopped but this is like claiming someone poked you and it shattered 3 ribs and put you in hospital for a month.

Re:Hmm (1)

thej1nx (763573) | about 8 years ago | (#16065743)

Also what are these "damages" for exactly? Having to use 10 seconds of your time to delete an e-mail and use up a tiny bit of extra bandwidth?


Or, if you gave it some thought, actual financial loss from the wasted bandwidth.

The bandwidth I use, has been paid for, by *me*. For my personal pleasure, so use as I see fit(as long as such usage doesn't encroaches on rights of others or is not illegal ofcourse).

So technically, if I, or say even the ISP, is paying moolah for say 1GB of that bandwidth and a chunk of it is wasted transmitting *your* unsolicited spam so that *you* can make money... yes a damage has occurred.

Bandwidth is not free. Even if you are offered unlimited bandwidth, it just means that your ISP is paying for it in bulk, without lettng inidividual users worry about how much they download. *Someone* is keeping those cables repaired, those servers up and running paying up the elecric bills for them, and paying the network engineers. And it is definitely not the spammer. And as far as the ISP is concerned, even a hundred 10Kb spam mail to every 10000 of its users every day, means 3GB bandwidth usage loss every month, that was not available to its paying userbase. They had to pay for it, but got no revenue for its usage.

The tiny bit of bandwidth adds up. Especially when you consider that many ISPs have userbases running into tens of thousands and more. Since all such extra losses get passed finally to the end customer(for every business wants to maintain its profitability), it is finally I who ends up paying extra for your get-rich-quick scheme.

If this was a bank, and you were shaving off 10 cents from each of ten thousand of its accounts every day via electronic fraud, the damage to individual account holders might not be *significant*. But you would still be going to Jail for stealing 30,000 dollars from bank every month... for a long long time. You can't say then, that "oh it was just 10 measly cents dammit!". Right? Right?

Re:Hmm (1)

Seanasy (21730) | about 8 years ago | (#16065793)

How come telemarketers who really disturb your life in some way get jackshit yet spammers get all hell let loose on them?

I put my number on the national and state do-not-call registry. I haven't heard from even one telemarketer since. Even when I did get telemarketing calls, they were never for porn or drugs and were rarely phishing scams. SPAMers have no such inhibitions. The medium makes it far easier to deceive, cajole or harass. The vast majority of telemarleting these days are from legit businesses. The same is not true of SPAM. That's why.

Too long. (2, Insightful)

bo0ork (698470) | about 8 years ago | (#16065562)

Nine years in prison for spamming is too much. Heck, two years is too much as well. You can get off easier than that for killing people.

Re:Too long. (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 8 years ago | (#16065745)

Nine years in prison for spamming is too much

He's still on bail. I'll be surprised if he ever sees the inside of a cell. And if he does, he'll probably be out in a year or two, rested and fit and start all over again.

This guy made MILLIONS. If he'd been prosecuted for each act of fraud he committed he'd be in jail till the sun went cold.

Prosecutors said Jaynes, whose Internet name was Gaven Stubberfield, was grossing about $750,000 a month by selling through spam items such as penny-stock pickers, an Internet History Eraser program and a work-from-home Fed Ex Refund Processor that claimed people could make $75 an hour by processing Fed Ex refunds....Virginia outlawed spamdefined under the law as sending at least 10,000 forged, unsolicited e-mails in a 24-hour periodin July 2003, making it a felony. The person sending the spam must hide their Internet identity, known as an IP address, to be charged.

nice to see ACLU looking out for our interests! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065566)

- i don't know how the ACLU could consider this idiot SPAMmer a victim and part of a First Amendment case, but there you have it folks: yet another ACLU-defended case!

In Virginia . . . (2, Funny)

bblboy54 (926265) | about 8 years ago | (#16065567)

. . . All actions one can perform will land you in jail. Also, even those actions that you do not perform you will pay a fine or fee of some sort for.

Really... I never knew it until I moved here!

WTF? (1)

aliendisaster (1001260) | about 8 years ago | (#16065570)

How can you sue someone or imprison them for sending spam? For one, thats the exact same (as many people have already said) as sending a lot of pizza coupons in the snail mail. If thats legal, then spam is legal. Also, the internet is an isn't owned by anyone, any country, maybe even not this world. The internet belongs to everyone. With this, you can not censor anything on the internet including spam. This is worse than the stupid christians trying to move all internet porn to .xxx domains. This is just stupid. Oh yeah...I hate spam to but I accept it like everyone else should.

Re:WTF? (1)

Robmonster (158873) | about 8 years ago | (#16065638)

Its not quite the same since you do not have to pay for people to put mail through your letterbox. You do have to pay to receive email

Re:WTF? (1)

aliendisaster (1001260) | about 8 years ago | (#16065700)

Actually, you do pay for to recieve your mail. You either pay for the P.O box or you pay for taxes to have the mail delivered to your address. Either way you are paying for it which makes it the same thing. Just one is physical and has been around for longer so people have learned to deal with it. Email on the other hand hasnt been out to the illiterate masses for as long so they assume spam is a new concept that should be destroyed.

Re:WTF? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 8 years ago | (#16065770)

How can you sue someone or imprison them for sending spam? For one, thats the exact same (as many people have already said) as sending a lot of pizza coupons in the snail mail.

RTFA. He forged his address. He didn't give away pizza, he defrauded tens of thousands of people.

Re:WTF? (0, Troll)

aliendisaster (1001260) | about 8 years ago | (#16065833)

It doesn't matter what he did. He could have sent satanic porn to the pope. It's the internet. The internet is freedom. There is no jurisdiction over the internet.

In jail... (1)

Toxicgonzo (904975) | about 8 years ago | (#16065596)

the spammers might get some "unwanted e-mail" in their "maleboxes".

9 years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065601)

I hate spam as much as anyone else, but 9 years is fucking ridiculous. It's just another draconian law which isn't designed to actually stop the criminal, but to give the impression that the politicians are being tough on crime. Of course, this type of law enforcement never works because very few criminals actually think that they are going to get caught, so however draconian the punishment is, it won't actually cut down on the number of spammers out there. Mainly because spammers know that cheap ass taxpayers and pandering politicians won't increase any funding to law enforcement agencies to actually try and tackle the problem.

Score 1 (1)

kahrytan (913147) | about 8 years ago | (#16065610)

Score one for the Commonwealth. And people say Commonwealth governments are fucked up.

And I am glad to see Robert McDonnell (Republican) is doing the job I elected him for last november.

When in jail, Jaynes should be required to help anti-spam software companies make better filters in exchange for a shorter setence.

He didn't "go to jail" (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 8 years ago | (#16065645)

Maybe the submitter, or editor, might have RTFA:
Jaynes was sentenced last year to nine years in prison on three counts of violating the state's anti-spam law and was allowed to remain free on $1 million bond while his case was appealed.
He's still on bail. Let me know if this fucker ever does go to jail. And even if he gets a judgment against him, you know he'll never pay a cent, like OJ.

But don't let me stop anyone making "pound him in the ass federal prison" jokes.

Re:He didn't "go to jail" (1)

geminidomino (614729) | about 8 years ago | (#16065703)

Except his case WAS Appealed, and he lost. That's what this story is about. Now he's gotta either appeal again, if he can, or end up in the shitcan.

Re:He didn't "go to jail" (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about 8 years ago | (#16065784)

Now he's gotta either appeal again, if he can, or end up in the shitcan.P? Right, and he is appealing. (He earned millions from spamming, he can afford to.) So no jail until thst's resolved.

Why Jail? Take their money! (1)

lokiz (796853) | about 8 years ago | (#16065649)

In my opinion jail is for when someone is a danger to society. IE: they are going to physcically hurt someone, etc. I hate spam, wouldn't mind if they all rot in hell, but do we really want to waste our money locking them up? It really is more of a civil issue. They should have to pay a crap load of money back to the government for having to get involved in the first place, let the isp's, etc who's servers got clogged up with their crap sue, and be done. Greed is what motivates these spammers, so take away what they value most, MONEY.

If spam didn't make people money it wouldn't exist. If the law takes away all their money from spam, it will go away. Now if we can just get the idiots who buy stuff from spam to stop, it would be dead sooner rather than later.

First Step (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065651)

Hey, it's not arresting them, hacking off and forcing them to eat their own fingers, disemboweling them, beheading them and placing their heads on pikes around the city as a warning to other spammers but it's a good start.

But I love spam. (1)

thbigr (514105) | about 8 years ago | (#16065690)

I like spam and eggs. I like spam and spam.

I will take your spam if you don't want it?

At the penitentiary... (1, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | about 8 years ago | (#16065704)

Murderer: What you in for, boy?

Spammer: Uh... I... I, uh... sent people spam emails... lots of 'em...

Murderer: That make you feel tough, boy?

Spammer: Oh no... no... not at all... got pretty rich though...

Murderer: That so? Well, Daddy's gonna make you his pretty little rich boy... [resting arm on Spammer's shoulder and winking]

Spammer: Guard!!!! Help!!!!!!!

Re:At the penitentiary... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 8 years ago | (#16065892)

So, you think prison rape is funny?

what about can-spam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16065706)

What I want to know is how did the Virgina law avoid the pre-emptive effect of CAN-SPAM? (Anyone got a link to the court decision itself?)

Why does everyone hate spam so much (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 8 years ago | (#16065792)

Seriously - It shouldn't be the problem that it quite clearly is. People complain about the time spent dealing with it and the cost of bandwidth, but these are really quite small. In fact, most people's entire bill for all internet services and total bandwidth used for all email is a drop in the ocean. I'd imagine people would satill be upset if they only received a single spam email a day. So, what is the real issue with it?

Re:Why does everyone hate spam so much (1)

Tim C (15259) | about 8 years ago | (#16065871)

I hate spam because some lowlife scum-sucking excuse for a human being decided to use my domain in the forged From: header of their spam. I now get in excess of 1500 spams, viruses, bounces and various other crap every single day. It takes me time to deal with it all, and there is a small but real chance that my spam filters will falsely tag a mail I want as spam and I'll miss it.

Before this shit-eating moron did this, I got maybe a couple of dozen spams a week, and I couldn't care less about them.

That's my issue with spam; other people's mileage may vary.

Delicious Important Emails Sending to My Friends (1)

ronadams (987516) | about 8 years ago | (#16065853)

Dear Friends, Hello good to finaly get this to you i am Al-Zawab Al-Ackbar and are seeking to tell you about emails that should not be sent because of recent US legislations. When you send "to all" you might be prosecuted in courts of US laws. How ever, I have a very large fund from same such emails I would like you to hold for me please reply instant and I can arrage details. Thank you GOD BLESSINGS It was a dark and stormy night. "I do declare, Mr. Horace: the summer is quite hot this year." It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
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