Virginia, US: Citizens have a constitutional right to SPAM

Authorities claim that Jeremy Jaynes sent up to 10 million unsolicited bulk e-mail messages a day from his home in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2004, he was charged in Virginia due to the location of the AOL servers that he used to send the messages. He became the first person in the United States to be convicted of a felony for sending SPAM but his 9 year prison sentence was overturned in court today. The Virginia Supreme Court decided that Virginia's anti-spam law violated his constitutional right to SPAM given the First Amendment's free speech protections.

This decision has the immediate effect of making Virginia's anti-spam laws unconstitutional and it certainly is a blow for the "War on SPAM". Up to 90% of internet email traffic is considered to be SPAM and it takes a significant chunk of network bandwidth while offering regular users little to nothing in return. In fact, managing SPAM can be both an expensive and labor-consuming activity.

Update:
Even if Virginia's anti-spam laws are now unconstitutional, the federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 is in place to prevent further abuses from unsolicited bulk e-mail messages from anywhere inside the United States but that act cannot be applied to Jeremy Jaynes because it is not retroactive to when the allegations took place.

Jaynes' lawyer was able to argue that his commercial messages infringed on political and religious speech. Perhaps he convinced the judge that Jaynes worships money itself.

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I think spam and all kinds of unsolicited ads should be legal, as long as the sender includes their real from address/return address/caller ID.

S4!t if new where he lived i'd go and shove a big fist full spam down his throat and see how he likes it. Fricken free speech my ass sending unsolicited email isn't the same as walking down the road and hearing someone spout THE END IS NIGH REPENT ALL YE FILTHY SINNERS or burn forever in the fires of damnation!! i got some spam for him its four foot long and measures 2x4

How free is free? really? maybe the judge got some of them pills to make his manliness speak for himself.. hmm....
OW crap!
SPAM is what we need...
SPAM is what surrounds us, binds us, SPAM binds the galaxy together... use the SPAM Luke, trust your feelings...
YEEEHOW kid now blow this thing...sigh SPAM?...

SPAM.... can't live with it, can't live without it...
I wish Ben were here..

Use the SPAM....
Keep on with the SPAM don't stop, Don't stop 'till you get enough....

Stupid judges. The right to free speech is in public. It doesn't give you to harass people in private.

Ok, I can see the point that email is private... but how do you legally define harrasement? If I send you an email and you don't like it, can you sue me? Seems too vague.

If somebody posts their home address on, say, a town hall bulletin board--or their myspace profile and leave it public--do they deserve whatever crazy crap shows up in their mailbox from then on? I was pretty sure the consensus was that they do. People--especially the sort that hang around this site--generally appreciate stupidity for what it is, and are eager to consider publishing your personal street address stupid. We regularly mock people who put their phone numbers on blogs or profiles and then whine when crazy people start calling. Or when they advertise a 'small party' on facebook and suddenly hundreds of people crash it and destroy the house.

But when somebody is stupid enough to post their email address for all the world to see, suddenly they have the right to keep it private? That's a completely retarded double standard, and frankly it only exists because of the strong bias against spam. If anything, I think spam is justly deserved for anyone downright stupid enough not to realize what they put on the internet can be used for less than honorable purposes.

(Oh yes indeed. Honorable. The british can keep their U's and save them for the millions of foreign words they butcher out of a complete lack of respect for any language beyond their own english fetish. :P )

People,

You are missing the point. While I do not like spam, it is the same as other speach that I do not like. There is NO good reason to stop someone from saying what they want; whether it be advertising, religion, politics, whatever.

And considering this... shouldn't someone write a program that allows those of us who receive a piece of spam to simply enter that email and every few second the application would send an email response. After all, if the spammer can send us crap, then let's send it to them. The application would use a single email address (ie: spam@spamkiller.com) so it doesnt come back to our account.

I agree that Spam is bad... but like speach, who is to define "bad" email? The idea of freedom for ALL speach is a good thing. There are plenty of ideas that I think are HORRIBLE, but I do not want to stop people from speaking their thoughts, otherwise what is to stop them from curtailing my thoughts? Yes it sucks, but let's use technology so that each one of us can decide for ourselves what we see and read.

Peace,
James Rose
New York City

In the beginning of God's creation of the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was astonishingly empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep, and the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the water.
And God said, "Let there be SPAM," and there was SPAM. Huge ****lOADS of SPAM.
And God saw the SPAM that it was good, and God separated between the SPAM and between the darkness.
And God called the SPAM day, and the darkness He called night, and it was evening and it was morning, one day.
And even SPAM was sent during the night and God knew it was good. SPAM would engage everyone and SPAM would one day encompass all of the earth and erection pills would reign supreme and GOD would not have to bother with men ever again.

SPAM equals CRAP and you know it!!!
SPAM is forced upon us and we don't have to accept it for what it is.
I know I used genesis to "scare" you ,but this is how bad SPAM has become it's even worse than terrorism!
It's part of your lives!!! People don't accept that?, then why accept SPAM? Stop using Email?!? not the solution!
SPAMMERs need to stop!!

I'm sorry, but there is no way spam is worse than terrorism. If I had said that I would be embarased for myself, but hey, you feel whatever you wish.

Spam is only spam because the person receiving it does not want it. However, there are people who want the specific advert. Although I would quite agree that the percentage of viewers is VERY minor. If we are going to say that items forced on us, in this case email, are bad (= spam) then isn't tv, radio and print advertising sent to OUR tv, etc spam? (again, I am not trying to bait. Simply that I understand the judge's point. I agree that spam is annoying, but who am I to judge what others receive and view?

Again, shouldn't technology not laws find a solution for this? After all 9 years in jail for spam? A person who commits manslaughter is often only going to receive 7 years.

I completely agree that spam is annoying, but a law? Seems the wrong fix.

Thanks,
James

Lets all SPAM...er...message the judge's over and over and over...just to be sure they understand we think they screwed up.

this is why net shouldn't be governed by a country founded under some stupid moral rules from 300 or so years.

This is the internet not real life. laws and human rights in reality don't apply to the actions on the internet. If you want to be a coward behind a computer to commit crime you should be treated as such.

imo sack the judge who even bothered to consider this rubbish.

oh and ammend the stupid constitution so that it is up to date and isn't forseen that indrect actions are collected as ones rights.

This gives the rights to those in real life to spam and do malicious things and be allowed due to this unconstitutional rubbish. i'm sure advertising over your windscreen on your car so you can't see so you crash is unconstitutional to the person who put it there to go to jail.

seriously this just makes your head hurt thinking about the stupidity of it all.

(Digix said @ #17)
...laws and human rights in reality don't apply ... to commit crime

I'm not quite sure how you can define it as a crime in the first place if laws written in the real world don't apply.

>>This is the internet not real life. laws and human rights in reality don't apply to the actions on the internet. <<

(NOT a flame) Please help me understand your point. How is the internet not real life? Isn't the net the same as TV, Radio and print media? (again, not a flame, I simply wish to see your point of view)

Thanks,
James

"Up to 90%"?

bull****. I manage a small 'mom and pop' business that just so happens to own a 3-letter domain name (A good one, too.), and at least 99% of the email traffic we get is spam.

(excalpius said @ #15)
Spam is NOT free speech. It is unwanted commercial solicitation. There is a huge difference.

However, you can't exactly put a "No Solicitors" sign on your inbox's front lawn. With the current nature of email, anyone has a right to send anybody anything they want, pretty much, so long as it isn't an attack.

I don't feel very good about it, but I have to agree with the ruling. After all, it's really no different from running around and putting newsletters in people's mailboxes. While one is clearly more productive and useful than the other, they both share the same rights.

(Joshie said @ #15.1)
However, you can't exactly put a "No Solicitors" sign on your inbox's front lawn. With the current nature of email, anyone has a right to send anybody anything they want, pretty much, so long as it isn't an attack.

Sure you can. It's called a spam-blocker, and spammers work to get around them, which I would call an attack.

(Joel said @ #15.2)

Sure you can. It's called a spam-blocker, and spammers work to get around them, which I would call an attack.

That doesn't even compare. A spam-blocker doesn't send a message out to spammers beforehand telling them your inbox is off limits. It's entirely client-side.

The only way that could possibly compare is if you put the "No Solicitors" sign in your kitchen and then complained because someone rang the doorbell.

(Joshie said @ #15.1)
However, you can't exactly put a "No Solicitors" sign on your inbox's front lawn. With the current nature of email, anyone has a right to send anybody anything they want, pretty much, so long as it isn't an attack.

Imagine this situation: Someone gets your phone number through unsolicited method. Starts calling you, and you tell them not to call you ever again... But they keep calling, so you block their number. So they get a new number, and call you, and you again tell them not to call, but they keep on doing so.

Does that not sound like Harassment?!

Thats exactly what SPAM does. They know you don't want their ads. Many actually have an "unsubscribe" that does not actually unsubscribe but rather is used to mark your email for even more spam. They send you emails from fake emails to overcome any filters you might have, and many other tricks to overcome blocking rules.

If anything, spammers should be charged with Harassment.

(zaidgs said @ #15.4)

Imagine this situation: Someone gets your phone number through unsolicited method. Starts calling you, and you tell them not to call you ever again... But they keep calling, so you block their number. So they get a new number, and call you, and you again tell them not to call, but they keep on doing so.

Does that not sound like Harassment?!

Thats exactly what SPAM does. They know you don't want their ads. Many actually have an "unsubscribe" that does not actually unsubscribe but rather is used to mark your email for even more spam. They send you emails from fake emails to overcome any filters you might have, and many other tricks to overcome blocking rules.

If anything, spammers should be charged with Harassment.

That only works if the same party is sending a bunch of the spam. If a thousand people send a thousand different types of spam two or three times, then they're each only guilty of sending two or three adverts, which in no way resembles harassment. You can't hold each individual responsible for the entire phenomena.

I just want to know what *******s went along with this. This violates more peoples rights to receive spam than it does for us to stop that one guy from spamming. It just sickens me that judges can be this dumb.

Better watch out, next the do not call list will be unconstitutional because it infringes their right to call you and give you a speech on how awesome their products are.

Obviously a judge(s) who don't use a computer. If they do, we should find their email addresses, and "flood" them, so they can see what it is like to change filters hourly in an attempt to keep up with the flood of junk mail.

I'm a liberal. I believe everyone has right to speek there mind and tell any government official to **** off... Freedom Of Speech to spam? fck you.

Spam isn't freedom of speech...it's unsolicited advertising/scams. The judge needs to go back to law school, it would seem... I'll go as far to say he's one of these new-age liberal judges, more interested in the defendant's interests than the people the defendant affected.

(2Cold Scorpio said @ #9)
I'll go as far to say he's one of these new-age liberal judges, more interested in the defendant's interests than the people the defendant affected.

I'll go as far to say.. that this is a comment as stupid as the judge decision.

You mean to tell me now I can sue those who block my email as spam to them under first amendment rights? lol This is going to be quite an interesting ruling.

No. You have the right to Spam in Virginia, but you don't have the right to force anyone to receive your spam.

It's a right to free speech, not a right to force people to listen to you.

Exactly, free speech is about having the right to say what you want, NOT force people to hear you.

So, its okay to SPAM on your own website, publish it in a journal, or even write SPAM on your T-Shirt for the whole world to see. But sending emails (or calling in the case of telemarketing) is basically forcing people to hear you, and is logically not protected by the free speech. Sending people emails that they don't want to receive is a violation that should not be protected by "freedom of speech"!!

Just how does spam fall under the protection of freedom of speech? I really hate it when idiots get on the bench. This is a very bad precedent, next thing telemarketers will be arguing that they have a constitutionally protected right to call me during dinner.

(Webworldx said @ #2.1)

That original article is from 2006.


Oh yeah. So it was. I should have known that the wheels of justice turn slowly. Dates aside, the point was that this was an update to the previous case and more details might be found in that article.

wait what? I always knew some of my friends from VA were crazy but i didn't think it was the whole state that was mad!!!!