Yahoo, Microsoft Win Spam-Filtering Lawsuits


A federal judge has dismissed lawsuits against Yahoo and Microsoft by the email mass marketer Holomaxx, which alleged that its messages were wrongly filtered as spam.

U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, Calif. ruled that the Web companies' spam filtering efforts were protected by the federal Communications Decency Act's "good samaritan" provisions. Those provisions immunize Web companies from liability for blocking objectionable material, provided the companies act in good faith.

Holomaxx sued both companies last October for allegedly violating a host of laws, including the federal wiretap law, by refusing to deliver some messages it sent to Microsoft and Yahoo email addresses. The company said in its court papers that it sends 6 million messages a day through Yahoo's servers and 3 million a day through Microsoft's.



Holomaxx asserted that the marketers it works with comply with the federal anti-spam law. But the company nonetheless acknowledged that at least 0.5% of the emails it sent through Microsoft, and 0.1% of emails it sent via Yahoo, went to invalid addresses or to users who had opted-out of receiving messages, according to Fogel's written opinion.

Microsoft and Yahoo asked Fogel to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds that they were immune from liability. Holomaxx countered that the companies shouldn't be able to claim immunity because their filtering technology was "faulty," their decisions about filtering were "motivated by profit," and because they refused to discuss the reasons for their decisions.

But Fogel wrote that none of those allegations were sufficient to show that Microsoft and Yahoo acted in bad faith.

"Holomaxx alleges no facts in support of its conclusory claim that Yahoo's filtering program is faulty, nor does it identify an objective industry standard that Yahoo fails to meet," he wrote. Fogel's decision regarding the claim against Microsoft contained nearly identical language.

Fogel said that Holomaxx can amend its complaint and try again, but it's not clear whether the company will do so. A lawyer for the company did not respond to a request for comment from Online Media Daily.

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