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The Courts Spam IT

Court Renders $3 Judgment Against Spamhaus 156

Posted by Soulskill
from the that-is-not-a-typo dept.
www.sorehands.com writes "Back in 2006, e360Insight and David Linhardt obtained an $11.7M judgment against Spamhaus, an international anti-spam organization. The judgment was subsequently appealed and reduced to $27,002. That judgment was appealed yet again, and the appeals court has now vacated the earlier number and entered a judgment against Spamhaus in the amount of $3. (Yes, three dollars.) As you may recall, e360's oral arguments for the latest appeal were not well received by the court." The ruling itself is a fairly entertaining diatribe about how e360 shot itself in the foot repeatedly and with enthusiasm throughout the case, and contains gems like this: "By failing to comply with its basic discovery obligations, a party can snatch defeat from the jaws of certain victory."
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Court Renders $3 Judgment Against Spamhaus

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  • Re:So... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 03, 2011 @12:03PM (#37296530)

    They only won because Spamhaus decided not to show up to the original trial. If you don't show up, you lose.

    You can read more about it in TFA.

  • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

    by emurphy42 (631808) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @12:28PM (#37296650) Homepage

    Only after sinking however much money into lawyer's fees, and awards that low are fairly obvious code for "we're required by law to award you something, but you're a real asshat so you get the absolute minimum amount allowed".

    From a quick scan of TFA, the final judgment boils down to:

    • The spammers missed several deadlines, then blamed the last one on their lawyer dropping the ball and his partners being tied up on other cases at the time, then got an extension of a few weeks and promptly busted out a dozen-odd witnesses (they'd previously claimed that only the boss knew the relevant info) and upped their claim to about $135M. Even negligence would be grounds enough for them to lose something, and furthermore this history is evidence enough that they're deliberately screwing around and thus grounds enough for them to lose more.
    • The spammers were demanding Spamhaus to disclose irrelevant details about its employees and equipment (it was pointed out that Spamhaus doesn't track who downloads their list, so wouldn't know which ISPs might be using it to block spam).
    • Said boss's back-of-the-envelope estimate (cost of one e-mail multiplied by number of e-mails he thinks were blocked because Spamhaus listed them as an alleged spammer) bounced around so much ($11M to $135M to $122M to $30M) that he was clearly exceeding his reasonable business knowledge, thus the whole idea was thrown out for lack of evidence.
    • The $27K was based on "okay, fine, we'll buy you lost three client contracts a month earlier than you would have otherwise", but $27K was revenue and it was pointed out that they should be looking at profit instead. Said boss claimed it was pure profit because "the e-mails were already sent"; this was questioned generally and specifically, and also thrown out for lack of evidence.
  • Re:So... (Score:5, Informative)

    by snowgirl (978879) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @01:19PM (#37296900) Journal

    Spamhaus tried to argue that the court didn't have personal jurisdiction, and sent a lawyer under General Appearance to argue against the amount of the judgement. The appeals court rightfully explained that by making such an argument, Spamhaus recognizes the jurisdiction of the court.

    They initially attempted to argue lack of personal jurisdiction under Special Appearance of a lawyer, but then (probably due to a misunderstanding of law, and advice from a UK lawyer) feared that they might jeopardize their claim of lack of personal jurisdiction by appearance, and so they up and quit, withdrawing their appearance. As a result, a default judgement was entered (as was the normal course of fighting cases prior to special appearance), and their remaining position was to fight any attempts to recover the judgement with claims that the court had no personal jurisdiction. They decided for the other route of arguing against the damages, and thus making a general appearance and submitting to jurisdiction.

    I honestly think it's probable that they were working under different legal assumptions based on UK law, rather than US law, and didn't understand how to properly argue lack of personal jurisdiction in the US... (since the US law in this matter differs from UK law, it's not an unreasonable assumption.)

  • Re:See... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Machtyn (759119) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @02:21PM (#37297216) Homepage Journal
    Once you stop caring, it's fairly trivial to opt-out again... at least for legitimate services. Groupon would most certainly comply with an opt-out request.
  • Wrong! None. (Score:5, Informative)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @02:26PM (#37297266) Homepage

    Spam is UNSOLICITED!

    If people signed up for it, then it is not spam.

  • Re:See... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pharmboy (216950) on Saturday September 03, 2011 @02:51PM (#37297442) Journal

    They should be required by law to provide a valid return email account so I can e-mail them back and tell them how little I appreciate them sending me their shit.

    They are. [wikipedia.org] The law just isn't enforced.

  • by hawk (1151) <hawk@eyry.org> on Saturday September 03, 2011 @04:11PM (#37297932) Journal

    I am an attorney, but this is not legal advice, and does not apply to your situation. If you want advice, pay my retainer.

    Generally, responding at all confers jurisdiction, even if there was none to start with.

    According to the opinion, spamhaus responded, and then changed it's mind.

    Under traditional rules, all that could be done was contest jurisdiction, and any other act consented to jurisdiction (my civil procedure prof actually suggested using a letter rather than regular pleadings for good measure).

    Under modern federal rules, and in most states, everything Canberra done at once--BUT you must deny Judie it croon in every pleading, or else.

    hawk, Esq.

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