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Company That Hired Spammer Not Liable for Errors in Transmission
Description Company hired computer consultant to distribute ads for its services. The spam contained a domain name that belonged to another, which resulted in thousands of messages tying up that party's computer. No liability to be imposed on hiring company; it did not control details of the spamming.
Topic Cyberlaw
Key Words E-mail; Domain Name; Advertisements; Spamming; Liability
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Greentree Mortgage hired Modern Computing to advertise its mortgages by bulk e-mail advertising (spamming). The ad contained Greentree's 800-telephone number and its e-mail address. Modern's ad also contained the address nobody@localhost.com in the return path fields, which received e-mails bounced back because the address was incorrect or the message was rejected. Unknown to Modern, Seidl had registered that address as one of his domain names, but he had not used the name commercially. Seidl received 7,000 bounced back ads. He sued because the messages tied up his computer for three days and, since some ads were bounced back by people angry about spamming, he contends that his reputation in the Internet community was injured. Parties made various motions.
Decision Spamming is controversial but legal. Seidl has no cause of action against Greentree. Seidl has attempted "to develop a legal theory under which an advertiser could be made to suffer financially for the practice of spamming." Modern was not Greentree's agent; it is an independent contractor. Greentree did not direct Modern in the details of how it distributed the spam and is not responsible for errors in transmission.
Citation Seidl v. Greentree Mortgage Co., - F.Supp.2d - (1998 WL 758600, D. Colo.)
30F. Supp. 2d 1292 (D. Colo., 1998)

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