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CALIFORNIA

Company Ordered to Halt 'Spamming' of Net Users

May 07, 1997|JENNIFER OLDHAM | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that a firm notorious for deluging Internet users with mass e-mail advertisements may not send the electronic messages to subscribers to Earthlink Network Inc., a Pasadena-based Internet service provider.

In granting Earthlink's request for a preliminary injunction against the firm, Judge Diane Wayne found that Philadelphia-based Cyber Promotions Inc. "trespassed" on Earthlink's computer system.

Wayne also found Cyber Promotions' transmission of unsolicited e-mail messages resulted in a "deleterious effect" on Earthlink's systems and operations by tying up the company's servers.

The ruling prohibits Cyber Promotions from "spamming" Earthlink subscribers by sending them unsolicited e-mail, such as instructions on how to get free cable service.

Kirsten Kappos, Earthlink vice president of corporate communications, said Cyber Promotions invaded subscribers' privacy by sending them official-looking e-mail from Earthlink servers.

"We're trying to set a precedent," she said. "There are a lot of Internet service providers who don't have strict spamming policies in place."

Earthlink, which has about 280,000 subscribers in the U.S. and Canada, filed the suit last month. A decision on Earthlink's request for $3 million in monetary damages is pending.

Also Tuesday, Cyber Promotions reached an out-of-court settlement with CompuServe Inc. that bans Cyber Promotions from sending unsolicited e-mail to subscribers to the world's second-largest online service.

Columbus, Ohio-based CompuServe said Cyber Promotions will pay $65,000 for legal fees. But the online service provider said it will allow Cyber Promotions to buy advertising on the online service and that such purchases could be used to offset the legal fees.

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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