On Fri, 10 May 1996 11:39:34 EDT Jered Floyd <jered @
>On the contrary, I think it is a very good idea.
It remains an absurd idea on simple factual grounds. Spammers currently
charge their patrons about $500 for a spam. Adding $50-100 to that sum
would make absolutely no difference; it would still be thousands of times
cheaper than traditional media, which is how spam started in the first
place. I have no idea how much KK gets paid per new subscriber from the
spam ad, but somehow I doubt the magazine company makes less than $50-100
out of the spam. They simply wouldn't bother.
To clarify, I'm not saying that it wouldn't make sense for AOL to do
that. If AOL makes people pay $100 per spam, the spammers will probably
take their "business" elsewhere and AOL won't have to worry about it any
longer. But it's only going to toss the hot potato elsewhere.
>Not many people read all of the license agreement in the first place,
>but those who do probably won't be the least bit frightened by a clause
>specifying that users will be charged for 'inappropriate use of system
>resources (e.g. mass mailing to thousands of Internet addresses)'; or
Thank you for providing a perfect example of the kind of wording that
would scare people who have limited but existing Internet knowledge.
"Mass mailing to thousands of Internet addresses" sounds very much like a
lawyer's description of a mailing list, and many people would assume it
means they can't write to mailing lists from their AOL accounts.
> I think you misunderstand our legal system somewhat. It would cost
>AOL absurd amounts of money to sue one of these spammers; and for what
>could they be sued? You mention the 'fullest extent of the law'... what
>do you feel applies?
It's costing AOL absurd amounts of money to handle the aftermath of the
repeated spams. Maybe more than the lawsuit would cost, maybe less, I
have no idea; AOL probably has full-time on-staff lawyers that cost
significantly less than the ones you retain by the hour. At any rate, if
they sued and established a precedent, there would be a lot less
There are all sorts of non-computer laws that can be used to sue a
spammer. Surely you must have heard of tele-marketing companies getting
sued for lying about who they represented or because the rep gave a phony
name. The only obstacle is that these laws have never been applied to
As for your legal system, I think you're the one who doesn't understand
it :-) What is going to happen to KK *concretely* if AOL sues him? Either
he finds someone to defend him for free, or he's gone (unless his spams
made him a millionaire, which I doubt). This is a case where there isn't
going to be a clear cut answer based on simple, straightforward laws.
This is a case that can drag on and on and on. AOL can bring in a bunch
of experts to say all sorts of relevant things and just make the case go
on while KK has to pay his lawyers by the hour. I don't know, what would
*you* do if AOL sued you on something where the answer wasn't clear cut?
I don't own a house, but if I did I wouldn't sell it to defend myself.
I'd try to settle with AOL (actually, the government would provide me
with a free lawyer, but this isn't the US).
>Unless the license agreement specifies that users will be held
>responsible for their actions; but then we're back in the first case
>with fines. So, instead of just charging spammers $50, now AOL should
>put stronger language in the license, and spend thousands of dollars
>_suing_ spammers to collect a $50 fine?
Your usage of the word "fine" suggests a serious misunderstanding of the
US legal system. Under US law it is not possible for a contract to
institute any kind of fine or other punitive damage (I think it's stupid,
but it's the way it is). Punitive damages are the sole prerogative of the
courts. Now sometimes it makes a lot of sense for one to want to define
small fines for common violations, simply to avoid having to go to court
or even talk to a lawyer to settle. You get around this by claiming that
the fine offsets an extra cost you have had to bear. For instance, in
case of late payment you can charge say $30 for "late payment processing"
- you can get away with it even if it only really costs you $3. The
problem with charging $50-100 for a spam is that it implies this is the
extra cost of the spam to AOL. This in turn could make it difficult for
AOL to claim later that a spam actually costs them tens of thousands of
dollars or more.
> And even if they were to sue Krazy Kevin, or a similar spammer, I
>don't think that other spammers would take note. For them to take note,
>the lawsuit would have to be widely publicized so that potential
>spammers would be aware
Exactly, and very likely. If AOL doesn't publicize it, someone else will.
Heck, WE will!
>AND the potential spammers would have to be logical, intelligent,
No, they just need to be people who want to keep their car and house.
Quite likely I think.