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Habeas wins $100k judgement against spammer

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Habeas, the company that fights spam with Japanese-style poetry, won its second victory over spammers this week with a $104,103 judgement against junk mailer William "Billy" Carson.

Warrant Mark services from Habeas help ISPs and anti-spam companies to recognise that an email is genuine by embedding a haiku, a 17-syllable Japanese poem, in the headers of outgoing email. This haiku is copyrighted and the Warrant Mark scheme is trademarked. Only legitimate marketers, who have to meet strict licensing conditions, are allowed to use this Warrant Mark.

Carson was caught using the Habeas Warrant Mark in attempts to get junk mail delivered. Habeas received numerous complaints about this and launched in an investigation which culminated in a lawsuit against Carson.

The US District Court of Northern California this week ruled (see this PDF) that Carson "profited from his misuse of the Habeas Warrant Mark and undermined Habeas' reputation as a reputable and effective provider of anti-spam solutions". US District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong described Carson as "a chronic e-mail abuser".

Habeas was awarded a permanent injunction against Carson and $104,103 damages.

"This judgment demonstrates Habeas' resolve in pursuing and bringing to justice those who violate its licenses," said Des Cahill, Habeas' chief executive officer. "More importantly, it demonstrates the collaborative power of the email community - much of the key evidence against Carson came from email administrators and recipients who reported this abusive email to Habeas."

To date Habeas has recovered $3876 in fees due to have been paid to Carson for the products he was hawking. It has donated this money to the SpamCon.org, a non-profit anti-spam organisation, for use in a legal fund established to help assist people sued by spammers. Last August, Habeas obtained a wide-ranging injunction against Dale Heller after a court ruled he intentionally misused the Habeas warrant mark to promote a book called Secrets of the Big Dogs.

Habeas is currently under attack from another spammer. Since 11 January, spam emails hawking prescription drugs and pornography have been illegally sent out using the Habeas Warrant Mark. Habeas has vowed to pursue these so-far unidentified spammers through the courts. Meanwhile Habeas is implementing technical modifications that will render future Habeas Warrant Mark spoofing attacks ineffective. ®

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