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Court takes gag off antispam service

A San Francisco judge lifts a temporary restraining order against SpamCop that prevented it from interfering with messages sent by OptIn, which is suing the antispam blocklist.

A district court judge has rescinded a temporary restraining order against antispam operation SpamCop, in an early blow to a case brought by self-professed "Spam King" Scott Richter.

A Northern California District Court judge issued a temporary restraining order last week to prevent SpamCop from interfering with messages sent by alleged junk e-mailer OptInRealBig.com, whose owner and president is Richter.

The San Francisco court dissolved the order late on Tuesday, after SpamCop's owner, IronPort Systems, filed an appeal. IronPort, an e-mail server company, argued that the order breached its first amendment rights and damaged its operations. The court is scheduled to reconvene on May 20.

U.S. District Court Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong said she dissolved the order because she had not reviewed SpamCop's opposition papers before granting the restraint.

The dispute involves practices of SpamCop, an operator of an antispam blocklist that third parties use to block bogus mail. SpamCop fields people's complaints about unwanted mail and its senders, and then uses that information to list the Internet Protocol addresses used to send the messages.

Richter sued IronPort and SpamCop on April 29 for allegedly interfering with his business and causing Internet service providers to block his company's e-mail. The suit also charged SpamCop with not disclosing the identity of people who complain about its e-mail, thereby aiding potential violations of the Can-Spam Act, which requires the removal of recipients from future mailings, if they so choose.

The San Francisco court's temporary restraining order had prevented SpamCop from transmitting "complaints it forwards to third parties regarding (OptIn and its subsidiaries, divisions, companies, etc.) to ISPs," according to a court filing.