Serial Anti-Spam Lawsuit Filer Loses Appeal… And His Possessions

from the time-to-get-a-job dept

Back when CAN SPAM was passed, one of the (many) parts that annoyed anti-spam fighters was that the law was quite clearly limited in who could bring lawsuits. It was basically designed so that only the government or ISPs could bring lawsuits — not individuals. This was done on purpose, as lots of marketing companies freaked out that they’d end up dealing with constant spam lawsuits from people upset about receiving their marketing messages. However, some anti-spammers worked on ways to get around this by setting themselves up as “ISPs,” though only for the purpose of trying to sue spammers. This strategy backfired. A couple of years ago, one of the most fervent supporters of using this trick (his only “job” was filing these lawsuits against spammers) lost his case, and the court even told him to pay $110k to the firm he had sued.

He appealed, and the appeals court came down even harder on the guy for clearly abusing the law, pointing out that he was clearly a professional litigant, and not someone running a real ISP. But, perhaps even more fascinating is that the guy, James Gordon, didn’t just lose the lawsuit, it appears he lost most of his possessions as well. Remember that ruling telling him to pay the $110k to Virtumundo? He refused. The company sent the debt to a collections agency, but told Gordon they’d call off the collections agency if he dropped the appeal. Gordon didn’t:

When Virtumundo’s collections lawyer showed up at Gordon’s house with a moving van and a sheriff, Virtumundo again offered to stop its pursuit of Gordon’s assets if he would drop his appeal, and he refused again, according to Newman.

Virtumundo’s collections agency then cleared out Gordon’s house, according to Newman.

He added that after seizing the contents of Gordon’s home, Virtumundo offered to return Gordon’s belongings if he would drop his appeal and again, Gordon refused.

As much as I thank anti-spam activists for trying to stomp out spam, that doesn’t mean they get to ignore what the law allows, and set up what was effectively a professional anti-spam litigation service.

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Companies: virtumundo

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Comments on “Serial Anti-Spam Lawsuit Filer Loses Appeal… And His Possessions”

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40 Comments
Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Re: Re:

How is this really any different than copyright trolls? It seems that the law doesn’t get applied evenly.
Very sad that it doesn’t. As much as I like what this guy stood for, it is nice to see a lawyer get beat down for abusing the system.
You want disparities in the system, just look at rich people breaking laws compared to people like Ms Thomas. Who gets the example made of them? Right, not the rich.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This is an injustice. Justice is a fallacy. A baby girl is murdered we can only have retribution or rehabilitation neither is justice. This just displays that the laws is not enforced as it is written it is enforced charismatically, the litigant annoys the court — the court shows that it is not to be annoyed. Meanwhile that spammer goes on instally spyware on all of our machine. Martyr’s they may be right but they’ll bleed to death in the end. Fuck the law.

william (profile) says:

is it blackmailing to threaten to take all your possessions unless you drop the lawsuit?

According to the law, they have the right to take all his stuff and sell them for money. If it stays at that I have no problem. My problem is the company’s lawyer repeatingly trying to use this as leverage to stop the guy’s appeal.

I admit I don’t know if this has legal basis, but it just sounds wrong and feels like blackmailing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

While I hate spammers as much as the next guy, I wouldn’t call this blackmail.

Remember, not only did he start this mess, he already lost the case, and his appeal was denied.

Virtumundo’s basically saying “You lost the case and the court says you owe us money. But we’ll forget this whole thing if you stop being a pest.”

ErRoNeUs says:

Re: Re:

Clearly breaking the law? Care to state which law he was breaking? There are all sorts of examples of accepted “trolling” including copyright, patent and trademark trolling. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen that these other types of trolls do not lose their cases because they are trolls, but I am saying that I haven’t heard of that happening before.

Skuck the Fank says:

The takeaway from this?

Go ahead and do this. If the government wants to protect pieces of shit like Virtumundo, then we have to do what we have to do.

But…

Don’t be an idiot. If you are going to pose as an ISP, don’t “pose”… *BECOME* a legitimate ISP. It really doesn’t take much to provide internet access to a few people (insiders sympathetic to the cause?) Once you have a legitimate business, retain a good lawyer for the inevitable challenge to your legitimacy, and have your paperwork in order. Be ready and able to prove that you are a legitimate business. They can’t invalidate you because you aren’t huge.

Now…Rip Virtumundo a new asshole.

By the way, Virtumundo is a skank.

RD says:

Wha??

Wait, what country did this happen in again? Because as I understand it in the USA, you arent allowed to destitute someone and take ALL their possessions just to satisfy a debt (ANY debt, let alone a judgement). Except for the IRS of course, they can F you any way they want. But in private matters like this, the constitution doesnt allow the wholesale transfer of private property from one party to another to satisfy debt. You might put a lien on property and the like, but you cant just take EVERYTHING.

And just for the record, the people who run Virtumonde (the virus people, right?) need to be taken out and put down like a rabid dog. IF this guy can get his entire life ripped from him for this, then by the same token the Virtumonde people need to be removed from the planet permanently for the scumbag, vile, evil crap they have foisted onto people.

ErRoNeUs says:

Re: Some times you just have to...

This guy is displaying courage… large quantities of courage. There were people saying the same things about the people who started the U.S. revolutionary war. There are lots of heroes who fought for their causes and literally died in the struggle. This guys is battling against some of the worst the internet has to offer and people like him are still doing it. Anti-spam activities are constantly being sued by spammers and some lose. It’s sad but they are still heroes even when they lose.

Dan Balsam can blow me says:

Another Pro Antispammer about to get his....

Dan Balsam will be next (danhatesspam.com) as he is also a “serial litigator” and peice of sh*t that does nothing but sue people and take things that are not his by lying, cheatng and falsifying infomation. I do not think he wons anything though I heard he lives in his mom’s basement.

David (user link) says:

Original ruling difficult to understand...

Why would the court rule in favor of the other party in the first place? Did the judge sleep through law classes dealing with the “Clean Hands” doctrine? If the spammer was acting illegally (in violation of the CAN SPAM act’s provisions) then that should have nullified any and all of their counter claims when they were sued.

Description of the Clean Hands Doctrine:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unclean_hands

Old Man Dotes (profile) says:

Is it just me?

Or does anyone else think that the CAN-SPAM Act was written by spammers, for the protection of spammers?

Virtumundo is a *well-known* spammer. Seriously. Click the URL link above to see for yourself. Virtumundo *bought* lists of email addresses – which means they make no attempt whatsoever to verify that the addressee *wants* their junk email.

http://www.spamhaus.org/rokso/evidence.lasso?rokso_id=ROK6401

Gordon Southgate (user link) says:

SPAM

The motive is irrelevant, either a professional litigator or anti spammer or a mix of both. This guy put his money on the line for what he believed and lost. He could have won and we would all have been better off for it. We all hate spam. Why should I have to filter out the rubbish in my mailbox, unsubscribe from mailing lists I never subscribed to, block url’s and the like. This all takes time, my time, my cost, our time at our expense.

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