Friday, May 12, 2006

No More Pesky 8x10 Enlargement Spam

No, not that kind of enlargement. Get your mind out of the gutter.

In a clear victory over the photolab spammer cadre, the FTC has once again shown us the immense value and public good that has come to us out of the CAN-SPAM Act. Kodak Imaging Network sent out an e-mail to 2 million recipients that failed to contain an opt-out mechanism, failed to disclose the right to opt-out, and failed to include a valid physical postal address. For this, they paid over $26 grand in penalties and have the watching eye of the FTC to contend with for the next few years.

So -- I have no doubt the marketer did the dastardly deed (as I gather from the rapid closure that Kodak did not dispute the facts). Take that as a lesson learned for them, as well as for the rest of us who are advising clients on how to comply with CAN-SPAM. Fair enough.

But was this what we thought we were getting when we passed a law about spam? 'Gotcha' cases against legitimate companies that make dumb mistakes as opposed to something that has a meaningful impact on the mess that flows into our inboxes every day? How many of us have spent time complaining to our loved ones about the burden of deleting great masses of photo-lab spams? Are the fake-pharmacy-spammers really going to read about this case and suddenly realize they need to alter their marketing methods to comply with the law?

If anything, this action by FTC -- if this is the best they can come up with -- seems to almost prove the ineffectiveness of CAN-SPAM to achieve its original purpose.

In any event, please be sure to tell your clients to include the opt-out and address! See 15 U.S.C. § 7704(a)(5)(A)!

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