[lug] off topic, spam laws

Peter Hutnick peter at fpcc.net
Mon Feb 11 11:50:58 MST 2002

On Monday 11 February 2002 11:45 am, Jeffrey Siegal wrote:
> Peter Hutnick wrote:
> > The issue here is theft, not tresspass.
> There is a clear definition that removing items from a retail store
> without permission is not allowed.  There is no need for notice because
> it is readily understood.
> However, in the case of STMP, it isn't theft because there is no clear
> definition of what uses of an SMTP server are allowed and what uses are
> not.  If some people are allowed to use the server for some things at
> some times (e.g. to send you mail), as is generally understood for a
> publically accessible SMTP server, you can't reasonably make the
> argument that someone is supposed to read your mind about what uses are
> permitted.  If SMTP provided some mechanism by which someone could be
> notified of what the requirements are for use, that might be different,
> but that doesn't exist.  (Identification banners don't count, by the
> way, because it is not reasonable to expect a person to ever see those,
> and there is no standard for how a computer might interpret them.)
> The situation with open relays is perhaps different, since it is
> probably not reasonable for someone to assume they can use your server
> as a relay without your permission.  Earlier, I was referring to the
> case where the server is being used to send *you* mail.  You are going
> to have a very tough time defining some people using your SMTP server to
> send you mail as theft and other people doing the exact same thing as
> not theft.  It would take a specific law such as the TCPA to do that,
> where the legislature finds that such a law advances a legitimate
> purpose (regulating interstate commerce in the case of the TCPA).  A
> general theft law is never going to cut it.

I'm only talking about relaying.  It didn't even cross my mind that someone 
would think that I meant that submitting mail for local delivery is theft.


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