MySpace has informed us that on Monday it was awarded $234 million in statutory damages, the largest anti-spam sum ever made under CAN-SPAM and apparently ever under any law. This is also the first time damages have been awarded under the California Anti Phishing Act.
The case was won against two notorious spammers, Sanford Wallace and Walter Rines. Wallace earned the nicknames “Spamford” and “spam king” for having sent as many as 30 million spam messages per day during a period of time in the 1990s.
Wallace and Rines spammed MySpace by creating their own accounts and stealing the passwords of others. They then went on to mass message users an estimated 735,925 times. Each of these messages warrant up to $300 in damages under the 2003 federal anti-spam law CAN-SPAN because they were conducted “willingly and knowingly”.
The case was brought against Wallace on March 23, 2007 and subsequently against Rines on September 25, 2007 when it was learned the two were working together.
MySpace has yet to collect the actual award and may very well not ever do so; it appears as though they don’t even know where two spammers are (the judgment was made in their absence after they failed to show up to court). Even so, they are charging ahead with another pending case against Scott Richter who also used stolen passwords to spam MySpace users.
The News Corporation-owned social network issued has issued the following public statement:
MySpace has zero tolerance for those who attempt to act illegally on our site. The Federal District Court in Los Angeles awarded MySpace $233,777,500 under the federal CAN-SPAM Act and $1,500,000 under the California anti-phishing statute. User engagement is up 32 percent year over year while spam is significantly decreasing, proving efforts like this are working. We thank the court for serving justice upon defendants Wallace and Rines and we remain committed to punishing those who violate the law and try to harm our members.
We’re told that the second largest award under CAN-SPAM was much a lower figure: $2.9 million, paid by ValueClick to the FTC in just March of this year.
Additional details for this MySpace case can be found through the Associated Press.
Below is the court order: