Many years back, an "email marketing" company called e360 Insight got upset that the anti-spam advocacy group Spamhaus included e360 on its list of biggest spammers — a list that many service providers used for spam filtering. So, it sued claiming defamation. What followed was a bit silly, as Spamhaus (based in the UK) initially responded, but then started ignoring the lawsuit, claiming that a US court meant nothing to the UK-based operation. Because of that, a court awarded a default judgment to e360, and simply took its word on how much "damage" being on the list had caused. The end result? An award of $11 million for simply putting e360 on a list of spammers.
Spamhaus initially ignored the whole thing, again claiming US courts had no jurisdiction over it. However, after e360 sought an injunction to get Spamhaus shut down for failure to pay, Spamhaus got involved. Thankfully, a judge refused to shut down Spamhaus, and while an appeal didn’t buy many of Spamhaus’ arguments, it did throw out the $11 million award, and send it back to the lower court to recalculate the damages.
So, now, four years after the initial $11 million ruling, the court has reduced the damages award to $27,002. Quite a difference, huh? I would have to guess that e360’s legal bills cost a hell of a lot more than $27k. It turns out that there were a bunch of problems for e360, and once it had to actually prove how much damage being on the list had done, suddenly it wasn’t so interested in giving a straight answer or, at times, answering at all.
Yeah, if you’ve made a total of $332,000 in profits over the course of five years, perhaps don’t claim $11 million in damages just because some company (most likely accurately) put you on a list of spammers.
It’s nice to see the settlement reduced, but it’d be nicer still if even that $27k was reduced to nothing, and perhaps e360 ordered to pay Spamhaus’s legal fees. I haven’t read the details of the case, but apparently some of their customers were SmartBargains and OptinBig. OptinBig has been linked to Scott Richter, who has been sued by Microsoft for spamming and had to pay out some pretty large settlements. If this is representative of e360’s client base, then one would think that the case for being listed by Spamhaus, an organization that lists known spam operators, is legitimate.
Spamhaus, incidentally, is a voluntary list. Nobody forces anyone to use them. Again, I don’t know the case details, but I would think that the judges in question should understand that.