There was California . . .
“We are saying that unsolicited e-mail cannot be sent
and there are no loopholes . . . We don't differentiate
between Disney and Viagra.
If you go out and rent a list of e-mail addresses, by
definition you are not a legitimate business. You are
the person we are trying to stop.”
Former California State Senator Kevin Murray
Author of SB 186
84 days later . . .
President George W. Bush signing the CAN-SPAM Act (Dec. 16, 2003).
Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act
CAN-SPAM Act of 2003
CAN-SPAM IS . . . CAN-SPAM DOES NOT . . .
An anti-fraud and disclosure • “Can Spam” – except for wireless spam
• Include a “Do Not Email Registry”
• Applies to an email where the
“primary purpose” is commercial
advertisement or promotion of a • Impose an “ADV” labeling requirement
product or service
• Create a general private right of action
• Applicable to bulk and single
emails • Generate stimulating cocktail party
2004: FTC Final Rule on Adult Labeling
FCC CAN-SPAM Rules
2005: FTC (1) Final Rule on Primary Purpose of Email; and
(2) Proposed Discretionary Rules
2008: FTC Final Discretionary Rules
SENDER -- means a person who initiates a
commercial e-mail and whose product, service,
or Internet web site is advertised or promoted
by the message.
INITIATE -- means to originate or transmit, or
procure the origination or transmission of, such
an e-mail message.
PROCURE -- means intentionally to pay or
induce another person to initiate the message
on one's behalf, while knowingly or consciously
avoiding knowing the extent to which that
person intends to comply with this Act.
FTC: must give the recipient enough
information to know who is sending the
Not deceptive to use multiple domains
Kleffman v. Vonage Holding Corp. (C.D. Cal. 2007).
Not misleading to use non-corporate address
where domain may be checked using “Who
Gordon v. Virtumundo, Inc. (W.D. Wash. 2007)
Fake address can get you in the dog house.
Designated Sender Rule
Must Be a Sender
• Name must be in the “From” Line CAN-
• Must be Responsible for CAN-SPAM Cannot designate
• Dropped requirement that Designated
Sender be in control of the content or the
mailing list used
• Senate Report
– test is whether the person initiating the message knows
that the subject heading would be likely to mislead a
reasonable recipient about a material fact regarding the
content or subject matter of the message
• “New MySpace Phone” subject line misleads consumers
by creating false sense of sponsorship by MySpace.
– MySpace, Inc. v. The Globe.com, Inc. (C.D. Cal. Feb. 27, 2007)
• “Free Gift” subject lines violate CAN-SPAM
– FTC v. Adteractive, Inc. (C.D. Cal. 2007)
• Opt-Out Basics
– May offer options, but total opt-out must be
one of them
– 10 days to remove
– No further use of email address after opt-out
– Separate Business Units:
Opt-out for Saab not opt-out for all of GM
• Discretionary Regs
– Cannot impose any conditions on opt-out
requests (e.g, fee or provide information)
No Consumer Private Right of Action
FTC & State AGs
Internet Access Service Provider (IASP)
Adversely Effected by Violation
Must demonstrate substantial harm
$25 – $250 per email
$2 million maximum
Treble damages if willful
Reduction if violation occurred despite
commercially reasonable efforts to maintain
Faux ISPs Established to Prosecute
Small, free service can qualify
Hypertouch v. Kennedy-Western University, 2006 WL 648688 (N.D. Cal. 2006)
But must demonstrate substantial
- e.g., bandwidth, hardware, connectivity,
overhead, staffing or equipment costs
Asis Internet Services, v. Optin Global, Inc., 2008 WL 1902217 (N.D. Cal. March
27, 2008 )
FTC unsuccessful in seeking strict
Advertiser liable if “actual knowledge,
or by consciously avoiding knowing”
about affiliate violations
Strict anti-spam policies and policing of affiliates
defeated allegation of intent.
Hypertouch v. Kennedy-Western University, 2006 WL 648688 (N.D. Cal. 2006)
– No duty to investigate
Asis Internet Services, v. Optin Global, Inc., 2008 WL 1902217 (N.D. Cal. March 27, 2008 )
CAN-SPAM PREEMPTS ALL
STATE REGULATION OF
EMAIL EXCEPT STATE LAWS
• Regulating falsity or deception in
• Not specific to email, including
State trespass, contract, or tort law;
• Other State laws to the extent that
those laws relate to acts of fraud or
Rulings On State Spam
• Misrepresentation must be
Omega World Travel, Inc. v. Mummagraphics, Inc. (4th Cir. 2006).
• States cannot dictate form of
Kleffman v. Vonage Holding Corp. (C.D. Cal. 2007); Gordon v.
Virtumundo, Inc.(W.D. Wash. 2007).
• Courts split on whether state
regulation must be based on
traditional notions of fraud
• Yes. ASIS Internet Service v. Optin Global, Inc. (N.D. Cal.
2008); Hypertouch v. ValueClick, (LA Super. Ct. May 4, 2009).
• No. ASIS Internet Service v. Vista Print (N.D.Cal. 2009).
• First Amendment requires
that it not impinge non-
Virginia v. Jaynes (Va. 2008).
TOP 5 TIPS
#1 – Always
assume CAN-SPAM applies
#2 – The Grandmother Rule
#3 – The Hand Grenade Rule
#4 -The Academy Rule
#5 – The Einstein-Dilbert Conundrum
Selected Cases: CAN-SPAM Act
ASIS Internet Services, v. Optin Global, Inc., 2008 WL
1902217 (N.D. Cal. March 27, 2008 )
Hypertouch v. Kennedy-Western University, 2006 WL
648688 (N.D. Cal. 2006)
US v. Cyberheat, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15448 (N.D. Ariz.
US v. Implulse Marketing, No. CV05-1285RSL (W.D.
Wash. June 8, 2007)
From and Subject Lines
FTC v. Adteractive, Inc., No. Case No. CV-07-5940 SI
Adteractive, Inc., CV-07-
(C.D. Cal. 2007)
Gordon v. Virtumundo, Inc., Case No. 06-0204-JCC (W.D.
Virtumundo, Inc., 06-0204-
Wash. May 15, 2007)
Kleffman v. Vonage Holding Corp., Case No. CV 07-
2406GAFJWJX (C.D. Cal. May 23, 2007)
MySpace, Inc. v. The Globe.com, Inc. No. CV 06-3391-
RGK (JCx) (C.D. Cal. Feb. 27, 2007)
CAN-SPAM Cases Pt 2
Asis Internet Services, v. Optin Global, Inc., 2008 WL 1902217 (N.D. Cal.
March 27, 2008 )
Asis Internet Services v. VistaPrint USA, Inc., No. C 08-5261-SBA (N.D.
Cal. May 5, 2009)
Free Speech Coalition, Inc. v. Shurtleff, No. 2:05CV949DAK, 2007 U.S.
Dist LEXIS 21556 (D. Utah Mar. 23, 2007)
Gordon v. Virtumundo, Inc., Case No. 06-0204-JCC (W.D. Wash. May
Hypertouch, Inc. v. ValueClick, Inc., L.A. Super. Ct. No. C081000 (May
Kleffman v. Vonage Holding Corp., Case No. CV 07-2406GAFJWJX
(C.D. Cal. May 23, 2007)
Omega World Travel, Inc. v. Mummagraphics, Inc., 469 F.3d 348 (4th
Virginia v. Jaynes, 666 S.E.2d 303 (Va. 2008).
Bennet Kelley founded the Internet Law Center
in 2007 after a decade of activity in many of the
hottest internet issues including behavioral
targeting, cyber squatting, internet marketing
and promotions, net neutrality, privacy, spam
and spyware. Prior to launching the Internet
Law Center, Bennet worked in-house with
companies such as ETM Entertainment Network,
SpeedyClick.com, Hi-Speed Media and
Bennet is Co-Vice Chair of the California Bar's
Cyberspace Committee and has been a regular
contributor to the Journal of Internet Law.
Internet Law Center
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