June 16, 1998 6:45 PM PDT

Hotmail beats spammers in court

Microsoft's free email company Hotmail today announced that a federal judge issued a permanent injunction against spammers that had used the Hotmail name to send junk email and ordered them to pay damages to the firm.

Judge James Ware of the United States District Court in the Northern District of California yesterday issued a ruling against three of eight spammers that Hotmail sued in January.

Hotmail settled out of court with two of the defendants and legal cases still are pending for three other defendants, according to Hotmail.

This week's ruling reaffirms a preliminary injunction the same judge issued last month against the spammers. It is the latest in what is now a long series of court rulings against spammers who forge email addresses and hijack networks to send out mass junk email.

Judge Ware today ordered that the companies, LCGM Incorporated, Palmer & Associates, and Financial Research Group, must pay Hotmail $275,000, $55,000, and $7,500, respectively.

Companies such as Hotmail and other email suppliers have been increasingly turning to the court system to fight spammers who use their networks to send spam, since there are no laws yet that directly ban the practice of junk email.

But legislators at the state and national level are working on crafting new laws that specifically target junk email.

Last week, Washington became the first state to outlaw junk email, a move hailed by foes of spam.

Spam has become an albatross around the collective necks of email providers.

Because junk email is banned by so many Internet service providers and because people who send it often are flooded with complaints from recipients, many spammers hide their identities and use other service's networks--a practice called "hijacking"--to get out their bulk messages.

Spammers also often forge return addresses of large companies such as Hotmail, so that returned mail is sent to that return address.

But the practice takes up valuable network resources and also damages the reputation of businesses by making them appear to allow junk email, companies argue.

 

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