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Supreme Court won't hear spam appeal

Justices let stand an existing ruling saying a dating service doesn't have the right to spam a university.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from an online dating service that claimed it had the right to send unsolicited e-mails to thousands of University of Texas e-mail accounts.

In 2003, the University of Texas blocked thousands of unsolicited e-mails sent to its users by , an Austin, Texas, start-up that specializes in establishing online-dating services for third-party customers. The site in question was, which targets the university's vast student population.

In February 2003, White Buffalo legally obtained a list of all of the university's "nonconfidential, nonexempt" e-mail addresses by filing a Freedom of Information Act request, according to the text of a federal appeals court opinion (click here for PDF) released in August.

Soon thereafter, the University of Texas received several complaints by students receiving "unsolicited e-mail blasts" from the company, according to court filings. Citing its Board of Regents' general policy against solicitation, the university ordered the spamming to stop. When White Buffalo didn't listen, the university had its IP addresses blocked.

White Buffalo responded with a lawsuit, alleging that the federal

A federal trial court in Western Texas sided with the university, and a three-judge panel at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that ruling in August.

The appeals court also concluded that the Can-Spam Act wasn't intended to prevent Internet service providers, including those run by public universities, from filtering spam--though the court did suggest that the University of Texas could have taken narrower steps to do so. The case appeared to be the first to address that aspect of Can-Spam.

Neither the university nor White Buffalo Ventures could be immediately reached for comment Monday.

CNET's Declan McCullagh contributed to this report.