An e-mail spam business that had targeted members of Internet service provider America Online has been ordered by a Virginia court to pay AOL almost US$7 million and stop sending spam to AOL members.
In an announcement made earlier this week, AOL said the US District Court of the Eastern District in Virginia entered the decision against spammer CN Productions in a case that was filed in 1998.
The court's ruling "broadened the scope of a prior injunction to effectively put an international spam ring out of operation," according to AOL. The spam ring had allegedly targeted AOL members with unwanted e-mail advertising adult Web sites.
This is the first case in which statutory damages have been awarded under an amended Virginia anti-spam statute that provides fines of $25,000 for each day spam is sent, AOL said.
It was also the largest award received by AOL in the company's ongoing efforts to fight spam sent to its members, the company said.
"This is an important legal victory in the fight against spam, and it sends a clear, distinct message to spammers: AOL is prepared to use all of the legal and technological tools available to shut down spammers who inundate the mailboxes of AOL members with unwanted and often offensive junk e-mail," said Randall Boe, vice president and general counsel of AOL, in a statement.
AOL had previously won a monetary judgment against CN Productions in a 1999 lawsuit. In that case, AOL obtained an injunction permanently barring the company and its president, Jay Nelson, from sending any spam to AOL members. Two years later, AOL asked the court to hold the defendants in contempt, alleging that they had violated the injunction by continuing to send spam to AOL members.
In its complaint, AOL alleged that CN Productions and its conspirators had transmitted more than one billion junk e-mail messages to its members.