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The Jaynes Case is Finally Over

Last September the Virginia Supreme Court issued a surprise ruling that

reversed its previous decision and threw out the state’s anti-spam law on First Amendment grounds. The Commonwealth made a last ditch appeal to the US Supreme Court, which I predicted they’d be unlikely to accept. I guessed right, they turned it down yesterday, meaning the case is finally over.

Due to the peculiar facts and history of this case, the decision would be unlikely ever to affect anyone other than Jaynes, and he’s still in jail on other charges, so in the big picture it’s just a blip. I thought the VA legislature had already passed a revised law that fixed the first amendment problem, but apparently not, since the state Attorney General says he’s drafting a new law for next year’s session. Even that’s not all that important, since state laws are tightly constrained by CAN SPAM, and can only make things that are already illegal under CAN SPAM more illegal. The most useful difference a state law can make is to leave out the CAN SPAM language about awarding costs which makes a losing CAN SPAM suit potentially very expensive to the plaintiff.

By John Levine, Author, Consultant & Speaker

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Co-designer of the TCP/IP Protocols & the Architecture of the Internet

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