As a former small magazine publisher (for over 12 years) and a direct marketer (for subscriptions and organizational memberships) I have some experience and sympathy with the difficulty in recruiting new purchasers, subscribers, etc., in today's economy and marketplace.
Nevertheless, I cannot subscribe to any proposition that supports unlimited access to anyone via spam or unsolicited e-mails. Ordinary people who rely personally and professionally in the Internet and e-mail (and judiciously use the same) are now getting swamped with too many unsolicited e-mails and marketing efforts. To even think of supporting an industry-wide effort at self-regulation is to put off any reasonable solution or cure.
The same happened with telephone marketers, and look at all the state regulatory schemes that are now in place — because the abusers were successful for too long in delaying any real action at self-regulation.
My suggestion is to establish on a state-by-state basis or on a federal basis the same regulatory scheme that New York has established for unsolicited telephone solicitations. In New York there is a central clearing house that you can call or send mail to in order to request that you be put on a “do not solicit” list that every telephone solicitor or solicitation outfit must check with before calling your number.
Why not have a statewide or countrywide central list of “do not mail” e-mail addresses that one can subscribe to, either forever or on an annual basis –even charge a nominal fee for it — that all e-mail or internet solicitors must legally use to eliminate (purge) people from their solicitation lists. This can only be accomplished through legislation on a state-by-state basis or on a federal basis, otherwise it would be ignored by marketers. This cannot possibly be seen as depriving anyone of their rights or interfering with interstate commerce, especially if it is done on a uniform basis nation wide through federal legislation.
Chris Roosevelt, Address Withheld by Request