Law dean discusses potential CAN-SPAM use in Facebook dispute
An article in the June 9 edition of The Arizona Republic titled, “Phoenix man goes against Facebook,” includes comments from Douglas Sylvester, dean of the College of Law, regarding a federal law that limits the legal use of mass email marketing.
Reporter Craig Anderson’s article is about a Phoenix software developer who has created a browser app that he says is a legal way for Facebook users to control some of the ads they see on it and on other social-networking sites.
Facebook and others have called Dru Mundorff’s “LilyJade” software an illegal malware application. The software directs ad revenue from Facebook to Mundorff’s customers by replacing some of the ads seen on Facebook with their ads, according to Anderson. Mundorff denies it is malware because users must read and agree to terms-of-service.
Sylvester said the software faces a number of legal challenges. Because companies like Facebook have a legal right to dictate how their products and services are used, creating software that changes Facebook content could be regarded as a violation of that right, he said.
The U.S. CAN-SPAM Act, while not specifically mentioning social-networking spam, could be interpreted by a judge as covering that type of activity, Sylvester said.
“The damages in these CAN-SPAM lawsuits can be huge,” he told Anderson. “It is a very serious law that was designed to crush spammers, when you can find them.”
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