South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Spam Can Be Sent if Not Misleading and If It Provides Opt-Out Options
Description

Appeals court dismissed a suit by a recipient of spam from a travel company. The spam sender complied with federal CAN-SPAM requirements by providing opt-out options. The federal law generally preempts state law. Most spam is not a trespass on to computers.

Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words

Spam; CAN-SPAM Act; Trespass

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Mummagraphics, run by Mumma, is located in Oklahoma City. It maintains domain names for clients who do not wish to receive spam. Omega World Travel sent Mumma spams for travel offers. Mumma called Omega to complain and, after receiving more, threatened to sue. He posted information on his websites about cruise.com, run by Omega, as being spammers who violated federal and state law. Mumma sued for violations of the CAN-SPAM Act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003) and for trespass for having spams sent to his accounts. The district court dismissed his claims. Mumma appealed.

Decision

Affirmed. CAN-SPAM generally preempts Oklahoma law regarding the distribution of spam. CAN-SPAM requires senders of spam to comply with opt-out requests. Omega included an opt-out option that Mumma did not use. It complied with CAN-SPAM by providing the opt-out and a toll free number to call or address to mail a request to so an address could be removed from e-mail lists. There was no false information contained in the spams that could give rise to an action for misrepresentation. Computer intrusion in the form of spam is not trespass to chattels without a showing that the messages placed a meaningful burden on the recipientís computer systems or otherwise caused damage.

Citation

Omega World Travel v. Mummagraphics, 469 F.3d 348 (4th Cir., 2006)

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