AOL, Microsoft Recycle Spammer Loot

AOL and Microsoft are making strides to publicise their efforts in the war against spam. This week, both companies announced that they've taken settlements from lawsuits against spammers and are putting the money back into their respective anti-spam activities.

Microsoft Corp. will be giving $5 million of its recent settlement back to the spam-fighting community, and America Online Inc. will be giving away loot gathered from a spam settlement.

Earlier this week, Microsoft posted an open letter from Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith, which explained that the self-dubbed "Spam King" Scott Richter had agreed to pay the company $7 million in damages.

The letter said that after Microsoft used that money to cover the legal expenses, the company would "reinvest almost every [remaining] penny from this settlement."

"We'll dedicate $5 million dollars to increase our Internet enforcement efforts and expand technical and investigative support to help law enforcement address computer-related crimes," the letter said.

Also as part of the settlement, Richter has agreed to comply with federal and state anti-spam laws, only sending e-mail to those who've requested it.

Before the lawsuit, the letter said, Richter sent, and helped others send, more than 38 billion Emails per year.

The lawsuit began in 2003 after Richter told Microsoft to "stick it" when the company approached him and offered him a $100,000 settlement.

"Spam has grown from an annoyance to a threat," the letter added. "Through new laws and enforcement actions here and around the globe, spammers are getting the message: Illegal spam is a riskier way to make a living."

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