The Spamhaus Case

Spamhaus is an anti-spam organization that provides a list of IP addresses used to send spam. They are one of the better ones and we use them ourselves to reduce our spam.

They were sued by the spam company e360 Insight to get themselves removed. The general consensus is that this was a nuisance lawsuit, designed to attack the anti-spam services through “death by a thousand cuts”: having lots of spammers bankrupt them by causing them to fight (even if they win) lots of law suits, similar to the attack on gun manufacturers by anti-gunners.

Spamhaus is a UK organization, but e360 sued them in Illinois state court. Spamhaus (according to Mr. Prince) made the mistake of actually getting the suit moved to Federal Court, then changing tactics to one of denying any jurisdiction in US Courts. e360 won by default since Spamhaus didn’t mount a defense, but the judgment may be enforceable since they essentially granted jurisdiction by filing to get the case move to Federal Court in the first place. It will be a shame if Spamhaus is destroyed by these spammers. The immediate surge of spam across the internet would be crippling–it’s very likely your ISP uses Spamhaus to reduce your spam load.

Here is a full discussion by Matthew Prince, an Illinois lawyer and law professor specializing in spam. He helped create Project Honey Pot, an anti-spam service that I’ve heard of and plan on looking into more carefully.

Here’s information on Spamhaus’ site about the suits. The court ordered (pdf) Spamhaus to remove e360 from it’s database, publish a notice on its main page saying e360 is not a spammer, and pay them $11.7m. The court also proposed ordering ICANN to remove Spamhaus’ domain entry, but ICANN has responded saying it doesn’t have the authority. The Register has an article published just minutes ago saying that Spamhaus has decided to fight the ruling of the Illinois court (i.e. “United States District Court Northern District of Illinois Eastern Division”). Let’s hope they win big, and get legal fees too.

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