Spamhaus Decides To Fight For Its Right To Build A Spam List

from the crossing-the-pond dept

Following the loss in the Illinois case where a judge fined Spamhaus $11 million, and the proposed punishment of taking the site offline, Spamhaus has decided that it needs to get back into this lawsuit. It had mostly ignored the Illinois case, claiming that an Illinois court had no jurisdiction over a UK-based organization. However, with the threat of being shut down, Spamhaus has decided that it needs to play ball and will appeal the decision, though it's likely that they'll try to make the case that they are out of the court's jurisdiction. The lawyers taking on the case, by the way, have apparently agreed to do so for free. Unfortunately, the fact that Spamhaus did eventually need to engage in the case (even if their legal help is free) might only encourage spammers to keep suing Spamhaus wherever they can to set up similar situations. It would be nice if there were an actual precedent that made it clear that keeping a list isn't illegal.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Mike F.M, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 2:35am

    I say good luck

    Good luck to Spamhaus. They are trying to do people a good service.

    Also, the lawyers that are doing this for free must either really believe in their cause or need some publicity.

    Maybe the lawyers realise that, if Spamhause loses, many more people will sue and as they would already know the case, they could be the ones that Spamhaus take on.

     

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  2.  
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    Sohrab, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 2:41am

    i dont get how an Illinois court can even judge a UK company....

     

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  3.  
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    Mike F.M, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 3:13am

    Re:

    The problem is that, if Spamhaus are found guilty, when people in the UK come to sue Spamhause this court case will be used as a benchmark

     

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  4.  
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    Jazmania, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 3:54am

    Hmmm, I wonder has that judge ever received spam mail or was he just dropped on his head as a baby.... Why the hell would you fine a company and try and have it shut down, when all it's doing is helping the reducion of spam mail... We need orgs like Spamhaus....

     

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  5.  
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    Evans, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 4:37am

    This is what happens when you have people in places of power with NO technical knowledge. The rest of the world suffers.

     

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  6.  
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    Steve, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 5:13am

    Spamhaus

    I think that Spamhaus should be able to maintain a list of spammers. It should be a persons right to block spam or not to block spam. It's not like they are forcing people to use the list.

    What's next, are we going to take all Blacklist providers to court?

    I think it is BS

     

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  7.  
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    Happymellon, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 5:26am

    You guys are arguing the wrong point

    The comments here seem to not follow what happened in the case. Notice the words default judgment rather than guilty. Yeah, think about that before criticizing the judge.

     

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  8.  
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    Richard Ahlquist, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 5:26am

    Spanhaus

    I think the best thing for Spamhaus to do is to redefine the content of the list as 'bulk emailing companies sending emails most people don't like' instead of calling it spam. This would prevent any claims against them. Anyone cant maintain and share a list of emailers they don't like.

     

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  9.  
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    Matthew, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 5:35am

    Spamhaus isn't even the appropriate target

    As stated, Spawmhaus just keeps a list of spammers. It has criteria to be met before someone makes that list, and it has criteria to get off that list.

    The corporations and individuals who USE that list are the one's responsible for the alleged spammer's woes. Just like it is the user that is responsible for abusing a kind and gentle service, like eMule, to sample and distribute files.

    However, the "weed at the roots" mentality -- along with an individual's refual to take responsibility for his or her own actions -- makes these housekeeper companies easy targets. You, the plantiff, know you're a spammer. No one wants your junk, and the fact that you have to try so hard to get anyone to look at it should be evidence against you.

    We, the people, got email so our mailboxes wouldn't be full of crap about sales and pills and 'you may be the next...' junk. We got cell phones to get away from telemarketers. And yet, because of the lack of imagination or innovation, the spammers and telemarkters flaunt their ill-gotten gains to sue us into attempts at submission. Whether they're evil, or stupid, isn't clear, but their goal is to make your life harder so they can earn a dollar.

    I can only hope they quickly go the way of the snake-oil salesman.

     

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  10.  
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    Raymond Delien, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 6:32am

    SpamHaus

    As a network administrator I have looked for several RTBL and they all cost money.. SpamHaus is the only site that provides this information for free. Is that why theyae being targeted?? What about the Black list that every competant adminstrator in America keeps on their own servers? When we get spam from a single source I blacklist the hell out of them. There is too much at stack here for a Illinoise judge to give a judgement because he doesnt feel that spamhaus gave enought respect to his court. I have met my fair share of judges and this is more about spamhaus not playing ball than the facts I promise you.

     

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  11.  
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    Nathan, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 6:40am

    Contribute to the cause

    If the law firm Jenner & Block is taking this on for free, I say they need to provide a way for us, the community that will benefit from their work, to voluntarily provide them some compensation. Maybe some free publicity? Cash donations? Discounts or coupons at our businesses? Anything we can do to help these guys fight the good fight. We need to support those that are going to stand up for us when it's time. Good luck, Jenner & Block.

     

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  12.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Oct 18th, 2006 @ 7:09am

    Re: You guys are arguing the wrong point

    "The comments here seem to not follow what happened in the case. Notice the words default judgment rather than guilty. Yeah, think about that before criticizing the judge."
    -Hppymellon


    No, the correct points are being argued here... the points of jurisdiction. Yes it was a default judgment and not a guilty verdict (which, as I've learned is not applicable in a civil case), but the judge should have dismissed the case from the onset since it's not in his jurisdiction.

    Now, it's possible that the judge is correct and that he does have jurisdiction. That's what the appeal will show, if Spamhaus uses that defense route. My criticism of the judge stems from his decision to step in where jurisdiction is in question.

    Personally, I'd like to see what kind of precedence is set here.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 7:09am

    "It would be nice if there were an actual precedent that made it clear that keeping a list isn't illegal."

    Course, that would require them to actually show up in court. Ignoring the courts authority is usually not a good idea. You can challenge it, but you can't just ignore it. Saddam is finding that one out.

     

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  14.  
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    Trouble Maker, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 7:29am

    two cents worth

    Let’s revisit this issue: I have a EULA that I maintain on my computers, in the legalese jargon there are stipulations for entities that installs intrusive software on my system(s) without my knowledge. In a nut shell it states that in doing so they unconditionally agree to the terms and conditions of the EULA and are in most case the agreement is for a rather large sum of monetary compensation. I know have provisions for Spammers and Phishers. In summery the clause states that they are welcome to send their unsolicited email to me but in doing so they agree that a monetary compensation for my processing fee for each item is established at $150.00 per item.

    Some will say that my EULA will never work; I say if an Illinois court can sue a UK based company you need to think again.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 7:40am

    Judge needs to admit to making a mistake ...

    Not only does the judge have no technical expertise ...

    He has refused to admit that he botched the case early on by allowing e360 to claim that Spamhaus did business in the US without any supporting proof. That allowed the case to continue to where it is now.

    e360 should be held in contempt and fined for lying in court and Spamhaus should be cleared of all charges.

     

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  16.  
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    Laughable, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 7:48am

    Overpriced bloatware

    While Spamhaus should be left alone regarding this specific issue, it's interesting that people think so highly of this product. And shameful of people who call themselves IT professionals.

    "I laugh at the useless, overpriced bloatware you sell, but I'll defend to the death your right to create it."

     

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  17.  
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    blake, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 8:03am

    Well -- Spamhaus ain't all that...

    I really appreciate what RBLs and SBLs represent. A group of good samaritans getting together to pool their knowledge and create a list to be used as a resource to stop the spammers from abusing our networks.

    Unfortunately, some companies (ISP, hosts, etc.) look at these lists as the 'final decision'. As such, if Spamhaus decides (as they have in the past) to ignore complaints of improper classification - an ISP may use that to unilaterally shut down someone...

    Spamhaus is not at fault for keeping a list - the ISPs, hosts, and other networks that rely soley on 'easy,quick' fixes to their spam problems ARE at fault.

     

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  18.  
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    Xiera, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 8:08am

    It's actually funny...

    And the spammers are worried because they think people actually read their emails in the first place? Or maybe they truly believe in (not very) subliminal messages. Perhaps bombarding people with spam or annoying them until they give in is good business policy? What's sad is that I have a really hard time believing that spam is successful, but it must be right? I mean, if these companies are going to continue taking the time to spam, -someone- must be buying, right? RIGHT?

    Anyways, that has nothing to do with Spamhaus, just the whole issue of spam in general. Back on topic, however, it's (very close to) free for a business to send out spam. It is. Consider the expense of other advertising. Spam is essentially free. I would guess that most of it is automated.

    Okay, so Spamhaus is preventing you from spamming to reach X audience. Spend some f'ing money and advertise via A, B, C, or D methods. Not only will people not be as annoyed, but they will also have more respect for your company and will therefore be more willing to buy.

    This isn't the only place I've seen similar situations. In online video games, people whine when there is a change to some aspect of the gameplay. Just like I tell those people, ADJUST. I realise it takes less thought to whine to the authorities that your company can't spam, but get over it and ADJUST.

    It always annoys me that people think that rules should be geared specifically towards them. Get over yourselves.

     

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  19.  
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    Nicko, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 8:47am

    Re: Re:

    Although laws and cases in other countries have some weight, they really don't set the same precedence as a court case inside the same legal system. And Spamhaus really doesn't have much to fear from lawsuits in the UK, since the UK has strict anti-spam laws.

    So in reality their only real fears would be: possible problems if doing business in the US, and loss of the .org domain (which if they had political pull in the UK could really open up the whole ICANN/US control problem).

    Now it probably would have been a good idea to have a lawyer send a letter to the court and the plaintiff explaining why they were not within that court's legal jurisdiction and that this case needed to be remanded to the FTC, or filed in a UK court, directly after it was filed.

     

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  20.  
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    Duh, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 9:37am

    pboden@microsoft.com

    Spamhaus provides a very good service and it is helping get rid of the scum that spammers are. Spammers are the aids and cancer of the digital world and hopefully one day we will be able to find a cure. In the man time, we should all sipport Spamhaus for their heroic efforts

     

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  21.  
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    Duh, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 9:37am

    pboden@microsoft.com

    Spamhaus provides a very good service and it is helping get rid of the scum that spammers are. Spammers are the aids and cancer of the digital world and hopefully one day we will be able to find a cure. In the man time, we should all sipport Spamhaus for their heroic efforts

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    DieSpamDie, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 9:41am

    Nobody forced anyone to use said spam filter. People that did sign up wanted the service. I don't like getting tickets, I didn't sign up for that service, yet no one is able to sue the government. Interesting how that works. Sue to take away things people want, but do nothing about things people dislike.

    Good ol' capitolist america strikes again.

    My appologies for my fellow americans actions against spamhause for what it's worth. They are idiots who cant get real jobs and make an honest living. Some day they will figure it out if they ever get smart enough.

    My advice to spamhaus... declare banckruptcy today, form a new company with a different name, same employees, same products, same everything. Now illinois will have to sue the new company. When they do, change the name again. keep doing so until they run out of money. If they don't run out of money, send out a spam email to all your customers asking for donations. Then buy the spam companies out and shut them down. Take all the spam servers, bot nets, and whatever else they use and smash them with a 2x4.

     

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  23.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Oct 18th, 2006 @ 11:28am

    Re:

    "I don't like getting tickets, I didn't sign up for that service, yet no one is able to sue the government."
    -DieSpamDie


    I assume you're talking about traffic tickets. You don't get to sign up for laws... unless you count voting. You don't want tickets? Don't break the law. That's how you "sign out" of getting tickets.

     

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  24.  
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    Karl, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 11:42am

    Spamhaus

    The big issue here is that they’re trying to close down the spamhaus.org through ICANN. Since ICANN is a US company they might have to comply. By doing so will cause huge problems. This will eventually cause the internet to have a break down because all the countries won't trust the US to control all the domain names and will create there own .ORG/.COM/Etc… servers.

    Personally I think the Judge who allowed it to go this far is not very smart or has no clue of what could happen. Allowing a known spammer (a big one too) to sue a company that help us keep our servers load low. It isn’t right; this should have never even been brought up in court.

    Not to mention that it’s a UK base company being sued.

     

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  25.  
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    Z34107, Oct 18th, 2006 @ 8:31pm

    Illinois v. UK

    The problem isn't that Illinois can shut down a UK company - the problem is that the Illinois courts might try to have ICANN pull their domain name.

    Their company still exists, their website still exists, but spamhaus.org (or whatever it is) no longer goes to anything when you type it into your browser.

     

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  26.  
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    Greg, Oct 19th, 2006 @ 3:56am

    it's like

    One news report on this quoted someone saying pulling the domain is "like the police going on strike". I'd say it's more like telling private security guards that they're not entitled to get in anyone's way nor hinder access to the private property that they're actually employed to guard.

     

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  27.  
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    DieSpamDie, Oct 23rd, 2006 @ 5:51am

    Re: Re:

    "You don't want tickets? Don't break the law. That's how you "sign out" of getting tickets."

    I realize this, it was an example... but to be more specific, I did not get to vote on it. I didn't vote to put "Tickets" in place, nore did I get to vote on how much it would cost me if I did break the law.

    The point is, if I sign up for a service in another country, no city, state, or country (exept the one it resides in) should be able to tell that service it can no longer be available to me just because it removes the ability for me to recieve other services that I didn't sign up for but would otherwise be forced in to recieving. It brings to mind the good ol' days of the gestapo. If the government wants to decide what services we can and can not sign up for, they better put it up for vote by the people for the sake of democracy and all that is decent.

    But in the words of Minnesota District 2 Democratic senator Rod Skoe "Why let the people vote [on abortion], that's why i'm here." BTW: Rod supports abortion, I don't, should he vote for me?

     

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  28.  
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    Gabriel Tane (profile), Oct 25th, 2006 @ 2:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    DieSpamDie,

    You really are making an incorrect analogy with discussion about tickets. That's not a service provided by anyone... it's a punishment for a crime. You don't get to decide what your punishment is. You can lobby for changes, but all of that is niether here nor there. It has nothing to do with Spamhaus and thier current legal entaglements.

    Your comments about having a service available to you is correct, but you make it sound like the government is embargoing this. That's not the case. This is one private company suing (for money) another company. The question in place is whether we (the U.S.) have the right to shut down a company in another country while these proceedings are underway (which is a common practice). The answer is no. And that is what will be sorted out once this judge's decision is corrected. That's the center of this whole thing: one judge stepped outside of his juridiction. And that will be sorted out. This isn't the goverment trying to deny you the civil liberty of doing business with who you choose.

    And, if ICANN does shut down the IP (or however that works) and that site is no longer accessable in the US, then find another. Or start your own. It's a common misconception that convenience has to be handed to you on a silver platter. That's not the "American Freedom" that is protected. The right to start your own black list is a freedom, as long as you do so legally.

    Finally, thank you for the illustration on Senator Skoe's stance. Unfortunatly, it has nothing to do with the argument. But, if you don't like his stance, don't vote for him. If you didn't vote for him, and you want to work against him, get invovled with the appropriate lobby groups.

    As an aside, his view on voting is as flawed as you intended to illustrate and I agree with you on that. But, still, it has nothing to do with this case.

     

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  29.  
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    John, Dec 15th, 2006 @ 11:50am

    Re: I say good luck

    There is no good service here. It may be with good intent but lazy in it's execution. Blocking single IP is great but blocking an entire range 1-254 is insane. Look at it this way. Some neighbor of yours down the street breaks the law but you get to do time with him because you share the same zip code.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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