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Virgin spammer settles out of court

Industry still awaits a working legal precedent on dealing with unsolicited mail

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A Surrey businessman who used his Virgin Net account to send out thousands of unsolicited emails has agreed to an out of court settlement with the UK service provider. Adrian Paris, trading under the company name ProPhoto UK, offered to settle the claim by agreeing not to open an account with Virgin Net or spam its 250,000 customers. He also agreed to pay £5000 in costs and damages. But while Virgin Net is claiming victory in what it claims is the first such action of its kind against a spammer in the UK, it doesn't necessarily stop Paris re-offending. Bibliotech -- a small London-based Net company that pledges to act against anyone who bombards it customers with junk email -- is currently chasing a number of spammers through the US courts. But unlike Virgin Net's watered down approach, Bibliotech takes a far tougher stance, seeking legal assurances from spammers that they will stop sending junk email altogether. Virgin Net business development director David Johnson said: "Mr Paris offered us everything we sought in the writ. While we would have ideally liked the court to have had the opportunity to set a clear precedent for the future, in light of the recent changes to civil procedures in the UK courts, we had no sensible choice but to agree to settle by way of a consent order. "The fact remains, however, that the case sends a clear and strong message to would-be spammers and raises the profile of this issue which will have to be addressed by the courts or the Government soon." Virgin Net sued Paris in April for breach of contract and trespass. He also disrupted the ISP's computer system and caused Virgin Net to be blackholed by the Real Time Blackhole List, a mailing list set up to enable other ISPs to reject mail from mail providers which permit bulk emailing. ®

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