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 Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 14:57 GMT
Spam suit wins $7m for AOL
AOL front page
AOL wins a landmark victory against spammers
America Online (AOL), the US internet giant, has won nearly $7m (4.3m) in damages from a company which sent AOL subscribers almost a billion unwanted e-mails touting adult websites.

The case marks the first time that statutory damages have accompanied an unsolicited e-mail suit under an amended law in AOL's home state of Virginia.

The company, CN Productions, and its owner, Jay Nelson, have now been beaten twice in court by AOL.

"Spam", as unsolicited e-mails advertising products and services are known, is becoming one of the web's prime annoyances.

It has particularly hit subscribers to mass-market services such as AOL and Microsoft's Hotmail e-mail service.

Escalated

"This is an important legal victory in the fight against spam," said Randall Boe, AOL's general counsel, in a statement.

"It sends a clear, distinct message to spammers: AOL is prepared to use all of the legal and technological tools available to shut down spammers who inundate the mailboxes of AOL members with unwanted and often offensive junk e-mail."

AOL has fought and won more than 20 cases against spammers, the companies which run the unsolicited email trade.

From its inception in 1998, AOL's case against CN Productions has escalated sharply.

Ignored by most

After winning an injunction against CN in 1999, AOL later that year managed to get the case extended to cover other, non-US firms working with CN.

Unfortunately, spam is big business, despite its being ignored by the vast majority of e-mail users, and more and more companies are getting in on the act.

Anti-spam is therefore also becoming a roaring trade.

The latest version of AOL's software allows users to report spammers simply by clicking a single button, while Microsoft's Hotmail has for a long time - and generally rather unsuccessfully - attempted to filter it out before it reaches the user.

See also:

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