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President Signs Fax Law

President Bush signed a bill that creates an existing business relationship exemption for commercial faxes, ensuring that companies and organizations don't need written permission to send faxes to members and past customers.

Bush signed the bill Saturday, and it took effect immediately. The law clarifies concerns about the legality of commercial faxes that caused some companies and nonprofits to cease using them entirely.

For years, the Federal Communications Commission had held that commercial faxes to existing customers and members were legal. However, several state courts ruled that the language of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act did not support such an exemption.

In 2003, the FCC changed its position, issuing new rules requiring faxers to receive written permission. At the behest of the industry, the FCC delayed implementing the rule but had planned to put it into effect July 1. On June 24, Congress passed Senate Bill 714 clarifying that the existing business relationship exemption was legitimate.

The new law includes no time limit for existing business relationships, unlike the national no-call list's limiting of existing relationships to three months after a consumer inquiry and 18 months after a purchase. The FCC could consider a time limit for fax existing relationships after a three-month trial period.

Scott Hovanyetz covers telemarketing, production and printing and direct response TV marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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