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Spam Disclaimer - Is this legit?
This disclaimer appears in a spam e-mail I got.

 9:53 pm on Feb 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I recently recieved this disclaimer on the bottom of a spam e-mail advertisement for a SEO company.
The message began with a polite advertisement for its SEO services and at the very bottom it tagged the following disclaimer:

"Should you not want to be contacted at this e-mail address again please click on this link and follow the instructions Click Here

This message is a commercial advertisement. It is compliant with all federal and state laws regarding e-mail messages including the California Business and Professionals Code. We have provided ("opt out"/websiteaddress.com) e-mail contact so you can be deleted from our mailing list. In addition we have provided the subject line ADV to provide you notification that this is a commercial advertisement for persons over 18 years old."

This message was written in a small font, but still legible. It took up very little space.

So is this legit? Could this possibly prevent you from being kicked off your hosting provider? I know that DON'T SPAM is rule numero uno for e-commerce and I have never done it, but it has alluring aspects and that is why it has been so abused. What seperates mass e-mail from mass snail mail or telemarketing? Do the same rules apply? Is the net so competitive that the only way a SEO company can be found is through unsolicited e-mail?

I know this is a very touchy subject, and I'm not advocating SPAM, but as search engines become increasingly more pay to play, and the few(one) free search engines become over congested, even in now non-competitive keyword arenas, will small time online businesses be forced to look into advertising avenues previously thought to be untouchable?

I have never sent SPAM but I have eaten it;




 10:41 pm on Feb 10, 2002 (gmt 0)


I've don't believe anything I read in spam including any disclaimers. I certainly wouldn't send any of these gomers any email to opt out since that would just confirm my existence.

As to the most obnoxious things in life, I would rate telemarketers as Number 1 for obvious reasons, and Spam email as Number 2 (don't want to have to take the time to delete and surely don't want spam to max out my storage capacity). Junk snail mail is way down my list of obnoxious things. It never taxes the capacity of my mailbox and is real easy to throw in the trash.



 10:53 pm on Feb 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree it's a nuisance but it's a numbers game. Direct Marketing evolved from direct mail advertising. Millions have been made through direct snail mail. My question more specifically is this: Does this disclaimer alleviate all legal worries or other ramifications such as your host dropping you, etc. I wonder how many clients this SEO company recieved from these mass mailings, my guess is that it's in direct relation to the amount of people they e-mailed. It is annoying but it must work, or else we would never have our e-mail box filled to capacity by it.



 11:08 pm on Feb 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I don't know, but you need to check your host's TOS to see if they will drop you for using this technique. I suspect they will not knowingly allow it. After all, some servers will ban the IP for such shenanigans.



 11:34 pm on Feb 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

The addition of yet another lie to all the other garbage in a spam message doesn't make the sender immune to any of the laws may be breaking (and he's quite likely to break some).

The primary difference to traditional direct mail advertising is, that in the paper world the sender pays for all the costs involved in transporting his message to you. It is illegal to send unsoliticed advertisements per fax in most civilized countries, because the recipients have to pay for the paper they would get printed on. You also pay approximately half the real costs of each e-mail message you receive.


 11:49 pm on Feb 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

bird.. nicely put.

If you count the amount of time downloading spam, deleting it, damages from accidentally deleting real email, or buying and configuring anti-spam software, the receiver is probably paying for around 95% to 99% of the cost however.


 12:25 am on Feb 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Any message that says "this is not spam" usually is and generally the only thing the opt-out serves to do is confirm your Email address. That's why they invented the delete key.


 12:45 am on Feb 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I recieve very little spam when I do it's mostly from sex sites (go figure)... Perhaps I have just been lucky or maybe my address is just not posted in all the wrong places. In any case I'm sure we all agree that SPAM is a big no-no, but I was just trying to find out more about the disclaimer. Can it possibly be LEGAL to send some form of Unsolicited e-mail. For instance if one did send such legal spam and got kicked off their ISP could they file suit touting that they were "in accordance with the law"? Maybe I should just report the offending spammer and find out. If only I knew how.



 12:56 am on Feb 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Even assuming the law provides that an 'opt out' provision imparts some penumbra of legitimacy to what is otherwise spam (which I doubt), I'd bet you a dollar and a donut that nothing in the statute prevents a host from implementing its own TOS, which raise the threshhold of what is allowable. After all, in addition to the potential of having the IP address banned, imagine the bandwidth eaten up by mass emailing. I just cannot imagine a statute that would prevent a legitimate business from protecting its own interests.



 1:49 am on Feb 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

This looks like a loose translation of an anti-spam law some senator in alaska wrote that basically became a spammers excuse to provide bogus removal instructions and a chance to tell you what good guys they are being by annoying you in a way that probably fits the proposed bill as opposed to just being dishonest without telling you how nice they are.

Last time I knew anything about it, it was just a proposed bill (and probably only in the state of alaska, maybe just a single county). On the bright side though, isn't california one of the states that AOL successfully sued for $500 per spam email they received in? Why would a spammer tell you they are in california, it makes it easier to determine if it's worth tracking them down and suing when you know what state they are in.

This post barely makes sense to myself, so I'm wondering if my ability to comprehend text just winked out, or if my ability to write it is going wonkers... (hopefully just my ability to comprehend... time for some sleep).


 2:17 am on Feb 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Might be my fault, MaliciousDan. If my rambling gets any more indecipherable, I might have to start charging for it. ;)



 4:31 am on Feb 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

"I'd bet you a dollar and a donut that nothing in the statute prevents a host from implementing its own TOS, which raise the threshhold of what is allowable"

That is a good answer Lawman. I have never seen a TOS that did not have an anti-spam stipulation. Although it would seem there must be some out there. I don't recieve that much spam but the ones I do recieve appear to be from the same people over an extended period of time (I don't have any kind of spam filtering BTW). I have recieved two spams already from the above mentioned SEO. I think at least that the disclaimer might cut down on the amount of negative feedback on a certain spammer. I know I myself have not reported them, and judging by the references above about what their opt-out might really be for I'm glad I never did so.


P.S. Lawman check your sticky mail for a dollar and a donut :)


 4:50 am on Feb 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

It doesn't mean much, providing an opt-out doesn't change that it's unsolicited commercial mail. Someone got some spam mail from an SEO company and asked about them on an email listserv. Same week I had gotten spam mail (3 of them) from some shopping mall to sell at their site (I don't have a product) - turns out the ONLY link to that SEO firm is from an orphan doorway page at the shopping mall site. Small world :)

People are warned NOT to ever unsubscribe from or do any response to mail like that because any kind of a response will verify that it's a valid live email address, and then they can really get bombarded. It's highly unlikely the law would make that an option for being legal when it's a commonly known spammers tool.


 1:20 am on Feb 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

[/quote]Can it possibly be LEGAL to send some form of Unsolicited e-mail[/quote]
unfortunately yes. i know california has anti spam laws and i did read up on them a while back but can't remember what it said now. it's all on the net somewhere.

i also heard that the EU recently attempted to introduce anti-spam laws but that the UK vetoed them to "protect the interests of UK businesses". (gee, thanks mr blair)

whatever "justification" is written on the bottom of a spam, it is still spam, most likely agains the terms and conditions of the host, and if the company sending it is in california, then it may also be illegal.

i'm thinking of modifying my terms by adding a fee for reading spam mail and billing those companies that send me spam. if a group of us get together to do that we could jointly sue any company that refused to pay our fees. any takers?


 2:46 am on Feb 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

I would love to actually do something about these extremely annoying people.

I receive on average about 20 spam emails a day, one I used to receive weekly was from an SEO company claiming to be able to get me top of the SERPS :)

So I got in touch with them by email :) and they sent me another email (not spam :)) explaining their services, so then I replied and asked them if they could explain how they could possibly make me top when their company is no where to be seen on any SE for SEO related keywords.

I haven't received another since :)

But I can't express how much I would like to do something about spam, sometimes I think of devoting my life to it, but then I just delete it and make a cup of tea :)



 2:56 am on Feb 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

>if the company sending it is in california

California also has an oddball long-arm law that can apply to anyone doing buainess in any way with someone in California.


 3:46 am on Feb 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

So is this legit? Could this possibly prevent you from being kicked off your hosting provider?

It wouldn't likely make a difference; which means if you have a spam-tolerant provider you don't need it and if you have a respectable, normal, upstanding provider they'd kick you anyway.

While I don't have much involvment with those operations personally, my company does run a retail hosting brand so I checked with the guy who'd make the call on TOS violations. He confirmed that such a disclaimer would be meaningless. The TOS spells out what spam is; there's nothing that says it's ok under the circumstances stated in that disclaimer. I'd expect you'd get the same answer from any hosting company.

For instance if one did send such legal spam and got kicked off their ISP could they file suit touting that they were "in accordance with the law"?

Being in accordance with or in violation of the law isn't the issue; being in violation of the terms of the service you subscribed to is.


 4:26 am on Feb 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

>>Being in accordance with or in violation of the law isn't the issue; being in violation of the terms of the service you subscribed to is.

As long as the TOS themselves are not in violation of the law, that is a correct statement.

Hate to be a nitpicker - nahhhh, I really like it. :)



 4:53 am on Feb 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

>Hate to be a nitpicker -

Lawman, the whole household got those years ago, including Grandma. They do_not make good pets. :)

I can't see any host's or ISP's refusal of any kind of bulk or spam mailing being against any type of law anyplace. They're generally pretty cookie-cutter, and the ones I remember warn of immediate cancellation of the account.


 5:59 am on Feb 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

I would just like to say that I'm very appreciative of the response to this thread. I have been lurking here for months and was finally convinced by Brett's A,B,C's of google optimization to become a member. You have made me feel very comfortable posting here and I look forward to participating in the future.
I believe Lawman and JayC are right it depends on the TOS. Unfortunately I know this to mean that some companies are making money by having more than tolerant TOS that basically condone spam. Perhaps CrazyFool was right. We should all modify our terms of service by adding a fee for reading spam mail and billing those companies that send it. Actually I believe there are programs on the net that purportedly pay you to read e-mails. That must be some pretty effective e-mail advertising they send you.... NOT!


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