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Survey outfit Harris Interactive has triumphed over the mighty MAPS (Mail Abuse Prevention System) Realtime Blackhole List. After finding itself on the anti-spam list earlier this year Harris sued AOL, Microsoft Hotmail and a clutch of other outfits for blocking its email surveys. Microsoft has now joined AOL in bravely giving in to Harris, although the company says no money has changed hands.

Harris uses the Internet to conduct research, and therefore if a massive email system like AOL or Hotmail blocks its mail as spam, it's going to be both seriously inconvenienced and seriously annoyed.

Announcing that it had settled with Harris yesterday, Microsoft said that it would make sure the company's emails would get through to Hotmail users, but that it would still be able to stop its users being spammed by 'real' spammers.

Harris dropped its suit against AOL last month on the basis that it believed it was now "able to fully communicate with all of its registered respondents who have AOL email addresses" (i.e., a discreet 'arrangement' was brokered between the two companies). Still in the frame, as far as we can see, are Qwest, MAPS and a couple of other outfits.

Harris won't have made any money out of the actions against Microsoft and AOL, but it must be well-satisfied with the outcome. It has established that the mighty MAPS is not all-powerful, and created a precedent whereby the death list can be circumvented, so long as you rattle enough lawyers. Could this be the beginning of the end for MAPS?

Related story:
MAPS under fire as Harris sues MS, AOL over spam block

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