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Spam laws question

 12:11 am on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I have a competitor who just emailed out an update to all of his members (me being on the list) One big problem... he did something wrong and I can see every one of those email addresses! I can't tell you how tempting it is to email them all and tell them about my very similar site that I feel is 10x better. I am, however, worried about spam laws and the like. Being rather unknowledgable about them, I would appreciate any insights. Thank you.



 12:47 am on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

Did you read the Disclaimer regarding legal advice in the charter?
If you are really want good advice seek out a professional.
Spam laws vary from country to country anyway so you would have to first state which country you are/what country the other recipients are :-)

But anyway here is my opinion.
If you were to send e-mail to these people they might consider it Spam regardless of what the law said. Is it worth risking your good name and anoying these people?


 1:15 am on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm from the US. And no... of course I don't wish to annoy anybody :-) I run a "get paid to complete offers" website, so all these members of the other website are looking for opportunities like these. To make the decision harder, my competitor's site is inactive and seems to have been deserted. So now I have email addresses of thousands of orphaned members who probably don't know that my site exists.


 1:51 am on Aug 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

For the USA the law is called the CAN-SPAM act
Section 5 is probably what you should read

For the most part as long as you aren't faking the headers or the from address, the subject heading isn't missleading and you provide a way for them to opt out then it is legal to send e-mails.

But again, talk to a laywer if you want a proper legal opinion.


 8:12 pm on Aug 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

The letter of the law may say it's not SPAM, but personally, if I received an email from you and I had no previous connection with you, your business or your site, then I know I'd categorise it as Spam.

Your email would go straight into the deleted folder and if I happened to spot your domain name in the split second I had your mail open I'd immediately categorise your site with every other spamvertised site.

Before you send the email, ask yourself how many other recipients would feel the same way.

Also beware of the response email that your competitor is likely to send out to all his customers. "Desperate for business", "low-life business practices", "no respect for privacy", "regularly spams" are all phrases that might appear about you/your site.


 12:35 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

The letter of the law may say it's not SPAM

They named it "CAN-SPAM" because the law says that, with certain exceptions, you CAN SPAM.

I get about 40 spam messages per day that comply with the law and which I cannot stop.


 3:02 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well ControlEngineer you can theoretically stop them by following the opt-out instructions in the message, and if they don't comply then they are in breach of the CAN-SPAM act.

However if they are in the business of spamming they likely own various shell companies and domains and you would be hard pressed to prove that you requested them to stop sending you email.

And of course if they are that unscrupulous, your trying to unsubscribe confirms that
1) the e-mail address is an active one and
2) that their spam is getting through
so are likely to receive even more spam as they will have a more targetted list and also be able to sell their email lists as confirmed addresses.

Hence the opt-out approach in the CAN-SPAM act is very stupid and most other countries are going for "existing relationships" and opt-in in their laws.


 5:07 am on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

And there is always the question of, in what jurisdiction in the recipient?
I'm sure that at some point an non US firm that has been spammed will file a case in their own jurisdiction against a US spammer.


 12:25 pm on Aug 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well ControlEngineer you can theoretically stop them by following the opt-out instructions in the message, and if they don't comply then they are in breach of the CAN-SPAM act.
Actually, even if everyone involved complies with the CAN-SPAM act, I cannot stop it.

Someone got my e-mail address, and they didn't have or I didn't see the check box saying not to share the address. So my address got onto a list that was sold. I have no way of knowing who has the list (or lists). Many businesses (perhaps one person owns more than one) buy a copy of the list. I get a spam e-mail, reply that I don't want any more. However, the next day other companies are sending me e-mail.

Fortunately the e-mail address I gave was a special one, so my filter puts all those e-mails into my spam folder.

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