The Virginia Supreme Court on Friday narrowly upheld the felony conviction of Jeremy Jaynes of Raleigh, North Carolina, for illegal spamming, rejecting his claims that falsifying message headers is protected under the First Amendment right of free speech.
As a result of the 4-to-3 vote, Jaynes will serve nine years in prison for sending millions of illegal spam messages in 2003, absent an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Spamming itself is not illegal. It is allowed under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. However, the law prohibits the use of false or misleading message headers and deceptive subject lines. It requires a way to opt-out, a valid postal address, and that the message is identified as an advertisement.
When police searched Jaynes' home, they found a cache of CDs containing 176 million full e-mail addresses and 107 million AOL e-mail addresses, according to the court's ruling.