Microsoft Corp. and Scott Richter have announced a full settlement of Microsoft's claims against Mr. Richter and his company OptInRealBig.com LLC. As part of its effort to fight spam, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against Mr. Richter and his company in December 2003, when he was ranked one of the top spammers in the world. In July 2005, Mr. Richter was removed from the Register of Known Spam Operators maintained by the Spamhaus Project.
The settlement is conditioned upon dismissal of the bankruptcy cases filed in March by Mr. Richter and OptInRealBig at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver. Mr. Richter and OptInRealBig plan to file today a motion to dismiss these cases.
As part of the settlement, Mr. Richter and his company agreed to pay US$7 million to Microsoft. The settlement also stipulates that Mr. Richter, his company and his affiliates will continue to comply fully with all federal and state anti-spam laws, including the U.S. CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) Act, and will not send spam to any person who has not confirmed a willingness to receive the e-mail.
Microsoft will direct US$5 million of the settlement to expand the company's Internet safety partnerships with governments and law enforcement worldwide through technical training, investigative and forensic assistance, and the development of new technology tools. The company has pledged an additional US$1 million to provide many community centers in New York state broader access to computers for underprivileged children and adults through Microsoft's Unlimited Potential Program.
Mr. Richter said today he had changed his e-mailing practices in part because Microsoft and the New York Attorney General sued him in December 2003. "In response to Microsoft's and the New York Attorney General's lawsuits, we made significant changes to OptInRealBig.com's e-mailing practices and have paid a heavy price," Mr. Richter said. "I am committed to sending e-mail only to those who have requested it and to complying fully with all federal and state anti-spam laws."
In its lawsuit, Microsoft contended that Mr. Richter and his companies violated Washington and federal law by sending e-mail, and helping others send e-mail that contained Internet domain names and IP addresses registered using pseudonyms and aliases from around the world.
The emails also contained subject lines such as "fwd: we have to talk," "make sure you do this," "re: your home loan" and "Your Federal Stafford Loan" and had forged sender names, false subject lines, fake server names, inaccurate and misrepresented sender addresses and obscured transmission paths, some of which was sent through compromised Internet Protocol addresses in 35 countries spanning six continents.
Mr. Richter and OptInRealBig.com LLC have denied all of these allegations.
Under terms of the settlement and to ensure compliance, Mr. Richter and his company have agreed to submit to three years of oversight.