AOL Wins $7M in Spam Suit

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America Online has won nearly $7 million in a lawsuit against a "spam ring" that the Internet service provider claims sent its members nearly 1 billion unwanted e-mail messages advertising adult Web sites.

AOL claimed the award against CN Productions Inc. granted from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia is important because it is the first case in which damages have been awarded under a Virginia law that lets spammers be fined $25,000 for each day they send spam.

The company also claims it is the largest award it has received in 20 such lawsuits against 100 defendants.

The judgment "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," Randall Boe, AOL executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement this week.

AOL said that it won a judgment in 1999 against CN Productions, formerly of Rockford, IL, and obtained a permanent injunction barring the company and its president, Jay Nelson, from sending spam to AOL members. Two years later, AOL claims, it asked the court to hold CN Productions and Nelson in contempt, claiming they continued to send spam to AOL members.

AOL claims that CN Productions accounted for 25 percent of the spam complaints it received from members.

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