Author: M.Prince (18 Jan 05 4:21am)
We consulted with a number of attorneys in writing the terms and conditions that appear on honey pot pages. Courts, at least in the United States, are reluctant to impose what appear to be unreasonable "penalty clauses" on anyone bound by a contract. As a result, writing in an absurdly high fee was unlikely to ever be upheld.
We settled on $50 as a reasonable fee for an individual email address. Again, the goal was to set a fee that a court would say, "Yeah, that's about what an email address is worth." We thought $50 was easily defensible.
The contract is really just one part of a two part plan. We anticipate that every spammer will plead, "I can't be bound by that contract, I never ready it and the was never a 'meeting of the minds.'" At that point, of course, we can point to the CAN-SPAM Act which imposes CRIMINAL liability for using electronic means to harvest email addresses. Our hope is that between the contract on the honey pot pages, the CAN-SPAM Act, and other Federal, State, and International laws we'll be able to put some spammers behind bars with the data Project Honey Pot helps generate. In other words, we only need one part of the litigation strategy to be effective in order to really "put the hurt on."
Beyond creating a litigation strategy against spammers, the other reason for the contract, of course, is to discourage other human beings from sending to the email addresses on the page. We believe, at the very least, it will succeed at that.