Mystery Marketing Group Caves on Spam Suit

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Mystery trade group eMarketersAmerica.org has given up on its lawsuit against two anti-spam blocklists and the people whom it alleged maintains them.


The suit, filed in April in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Florida, named 12 people and groups, claiming they "maliciously" interfered with the plaintiff's and its members' businesses, and sought $75,000.


However, eMarketersAmerica.org's director and plaintiffs' attorney Mark Felstein filed for dismissal Sept. 4.


But Atlanta-based Pete Wellborn, the prominent anti-spam attorney representing the defendants in this case, said he filed a motion aiming to block the dismissal until eMarketersAmerica.org pays all attorneys' fees resulting from the suit, or "in excess of $75,000."


Though the suit won't go down in the annals of U.S. case law, it offers a glimpse at how the war between spammers and anti-spammers is one with both sides often firing at unknown targets.


It has never been clear who eMarketersAmerica.org's members are. Felstein has claimed there are 40.


Anti-spammers claim that eMarketersAmerica.org is a front for Boca Raton, FL-based Eddy Marin, who they maintain is one of the world's top spammers, and that the suit was mainly an attempt to smoke out whoever is behind the anonymously maintained blocklist Spam Prevention Early Warning System, or SPEWS.org.


SPEWS is one of several hundred lists of IP addresses that the list maintainers think are sources of spam. Many e-mail administrators set their systems to match incoming e-mail against one or more of these lists and filter out incoming mail from listed IP addresses.


SPEWS is particularly controversial because it also lists blocks of innocent IP addresses that do business with Internet service providers who also host suspected spammers. This tactic aims to create "collateral damage" so the owners of the innocent addresses either take their business elsewhere or pressure their ISPs to remove the suspected spammers.


SPEWS this summer also has faced massive distributed-denial-of-service attacks, where broadband users' computers are hijacked to send massive amounts of data to overwhelm the receiving machine. As a result, SPEWS has been out of service intermittently.


London-based Spamhaus.org is the second blocklist involved in the lawsuit.


Meanwhile, Felstein has said that Marin is not a member of eMarketersAmerica.org.


Neither Felstein nor Marin returned calls for comment.


However, an 1,800-word monologue on EddyMarin.com titled "Do Anti-$pam Activists Have A Hidden Agenda?" offers evidence that Marin is a vocal opponent of anti-spam activists and approves of eMarketersAmerica.org.


"Almost unnoticed amid all the public email hoopla is the extremely lucrative anti-spam industry that flourishes in the shadow of headlines and black lists generated by the 'antis' [anti-spammers]," says copy behind a link on EddyMarin.com dubbed "A word from The King."


"To date most of the email headlines -- and open government forums -- have pictured the 'antis' as saviors of the Internet," the piece says many paragraphs later. "But, lately -- after South Florida based EmarketersAmerica.org recently fired the first volley in return the marketing side has stepped forward."


DM News, however, could not verify that the same Eddy Marin anti-spammers think is behind eMarketersAmerica.org maintains EddyMarin.com.


Whoever is behind this suit may yet be revealed. Wellborn said that post-judgment discovery would uncover the names.


"I'll be shocked if we don't find out," he said.


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