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Spammers ordered to pay tiny ISP whopping $2.6m

$650,000 per employee courtesy of CAN-SPAM

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A small internet service provider has been awarded nearly $2.6m in a lawsuit it filed against a company that sent just under 25,000 spam messages over an 18-month period.

Although it's questionable whether Asis Internet Services will ever see a penny of that windfall, the judgment is testament to the awesome power of CAN-SPAM, short for the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, which was passed by Congress in 2003. It allows judgments of as much as $100 for every unsolicited email, and damages can be tripled for a variety of reasons.

The judgment was awarded by Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte of the US District Court in Northern California. It comes in a case filed against the principals of a business called Find a Quote. A four-employee ISP in Garberville, California, Asis said it receives about 200,000 junk messages per day and spends about $3,000 per month to process them.

Laporte calculated that the ISP was entitled to damages of $865,340, but went on to triple the amount, to 2.596m, because, she said, the Find a Quote spammers, including defendant Edward Heckerson, had employed automatic scripts to send their messages.

"Plaintiffs have provided persuasive evidence that Heckerson engaged in conduct that warrants aggravated damages," Laporte wrote.

The judgment may be look like a king's ransom for the ISP, but it's by no means a record. Facebook was awarded $711m against Spamford Wallace last year, and in 2008, an Arizona ISP won a $236m judgment against a mom-and-pop spam shop.

The judgment is also less than the $3m Asis sought. But so far, no one from the ISP is complaining. ®

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