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6/30/2004
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Washington State Court Upholds Anti-Spam Law

It rejected a claim by an Oregon spammer who said he didn't know some of his E-mail was going to Washington state residents.

SEATTLE (AP) -- An appeals court upheld the state's tough anti-spam law in a closely watched case against a man who claimed he did not know some of his E-mail was going to Washington state residents.

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals rejected an appeal by Jason Heckel of Salem, Ore., doing business as Natural Instincts and promoting a "How to Profit From the Internet" package for $39.95.

The case, filed in 1998, was the first under Washington's law against unsolicited junk E-mail. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to consider a claim that the state law violated the U.S. Constitution's interstate commerce clause.

Federal anti-spam legislation went into effect Jan. 1, and leading Internet companies have sued hundreds of people accused of violating it.

Monday's state appellate decision upheld a 2002 decision ordering Heckel to pay nearly $100,000 in fines and court costs.

Heckel never disputed sending hundreds of thousands of E-mail solicitations a month but claimed that Washington state should have been required to prove that he knew specific addressees were Washington state residents.

Under that interpretation, "no spammer sending deceptive E-mail could ever violate the act as long as he were to use a bulk E-mail program to harvest large numbers of addresses without regard to residence of the owners," Judge Faye C. Kennedy wrote for the panel.

Heckel's lawyer, Dale L. Crandall, said he had not decided whether to appeal. "These are complex issues," he said.

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