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San Francisco Attorney Wins Anti-Spam Suit

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					Legal Daily News Feature


San Francisco Attorney Wins Anti-Spam Suit
By Christine Cristiano


Daniel Balsam, a San Francisco attorney, has been awarded $7,000 in damages under an anti-spam law in California. The settlement is
comprised of $1000 per email he received from the Redwood City advertising company, Trancos Inc. In 2007, the unsolicited commercial
emails were sent to Balsam’s email inbox from Trancos Inc. Balsam is no stranger to California’s anti-spam law; his anti-spam crusade
started in 2008 when he graduated from law school.




                              03/23/10                                   Although some cases involving the anti-spam law have been
                                                                         tried in small claims court, Balsam’s case against Trancos Inc.
                             The emails were misleading in               was the first consumer case to make it to trial in Superior
                             that none of the emails revealed            Court.
                             that they were from Trancos Inc.,
but instead the sender information contained an unidentified             According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Balsam’s
and non-existent source and in some instances contained                  attorney, Timothy Walton said that ‘’advertisers who work to
the words, join elite, promotion, and paid survey. One email             hide their identities are violating consumer trust.’’
contained a subject line that lured recipients to complete a
survey for five dollars. The judge presiding over the case ruled         In response to the ruling, Robert Nelson, the attorney for
that the emails containing the subject heading words ‘paid               Trancos, claims that his client is ‘’a successful, ethical Internet
survey work’ could be described as misleading.                           advertising business,’’ and that they plan to appeal the ruling.
                                                                         Nelson disputed the ruling on the grounds that ‘’spam is
The case was presided over by Judge Marie Weiner of San                  largely regulated by federal law and that only a consumer who
Mateo County Superior Court and she ruled that the emails                is actually defrauded and suffers losses - which Balsam did not
originating from Trancos Inc. violated an anti-spam law that             claim - is entitled to sue under state law.’’
has been in effect in California since 2004. Under the anti-
spam law, it is unlawful to send an unsolicited commercial               Upon ruling, Judge Weiner dismissed Nelson argument and
email to a recipient in the state of California or from an email         pointed out it is permissible for each state to ban ‘’deceptive
in California that falsifies the source or subject of the email.         email headers, subject lines and content.’’
Under a similar federal government law, only internet service
providers, or the government can invoke the anti-spam law.               In addition, Judge Weiner also ruled that Trancos Inc. is
However, in California, individuals and consumers can sue for            liable for damages for deliberately setting out to ‘’impair a
damages up to $1000 for each spammed message regardless                  recipient’s ability to identify, locate or respond to it as the
if the recipient didn’t accept or lose any money over the email          initiator of the e-mail.’’
offers.




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Description: Daniel Balsam, a San Francisco attorney, has been awarded $7,000 in damages under an anti-spam law in California. The settlement is comprised of $1000 per email he received from the Trancos Inc.
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