More Spiced Ham

As a follow-up to the post below, which of the following, if any, should be considered spam?

1) Thousands of shareholders of Netflix stock, in an organized campaign, send emails to their CEO urging action in response to Blockbuster's plan to undercut Netflix prices.

2) Thousands of angry individuals, in an organized campaign, send emails to the CEO of DaimlerChrysler complaining of the company's plans to outsource jobs to India.

3) A major college football program nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia sends out "letters of interest" to the top high school football prospects in the Commonwealth.

4) The head of a major libertarian thinktank sends out emails to the contributors of well-known libertarian blogs asking for donations.

5) The head of a major libertarian thinktank sends out an email to the chief editor of a well-known libertarian blog asking for advice on starting a blog.

If you were considering sending one of these emails, how would you determine if your future actions might constitute spam, and by extension, a violation of the recipient's property rights?

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You can't necessarily

You can't necessarily determine if it will be a rights violation or not since it's the recipient's call. None of it is a violation of the rights of the recipient that wants it, all of it is to the recipient that doesn't want his mailbox used for such things.

In and of itself an individual piece of unsanctioned mail would be an accidental micro-violation of rights.

In and of itself an

In and of itself an individual piece of unsanctioned mail would be an accidental micro-violation of rights.

What ought to be the punishment or restitution?

The only way to determine

The only way to determine this is through some kind of categorization of unsolicited mail. I mean, it's up to you, really, what you want to receive, and the more specific you get, the more you're able to individualize the filters.

In other words, if you are general, and say that you don't want unsolicited mail at all, then you may end up filtering out some unsolicited mail that you might have wanted. But if you take the time to categorize and accept/reject specific types of mailing or mailings from specific people who you know you want mail from, then you'll be better off.

There is no one-fix to this thing. We have a spam filter on our firm's server. Most of the time, it filters out all the crap and leaves in the good stuff. But sometimes, it filters out good stuff I want, and leaves in actual SPAM. I can deal with the few SPAM's that make it through...and then I just set up specific filter exceptions for senders who I want stuff from, but repeatedly get caught by the filter.

Perhaps, if there was a standardized categorization of mail?

But this is really not necessary. The spam filter I have on my system is 99% effective because almost all spam has certain signatures that tip it off. This idea of getting into private property laws, I don't think is a good idea.

Here's a few things to help

Here's a few things to help determine whether what you are sending is spam:
1. Do you feel the need to hide your identity or commit fraud in the headers?
2. How closely related is the subject of your missive to the goals/interests of the recipient? How do you know? If a comment to a blog - did you even read the post?
3. Are you sending this to a limited group (or single individual) that you are confident would be interested, or is this a mass mailing? i.e. are you using an automated sender or mail merge feature from a big database?
4. If a recipient responds asking you to remove him from your list - do you apologize and remove him from your list - or do you add his info to the "verified live and monitored address" list for sale to others?

One hopes that a CEO of a company wants letters from (potential) customers about his product and how he does business. One hopes that top high schol athletes want to hear from schools interested in them (you don't say how the school detemined who to send the letters to, I assume some scouting effort involved). The head of a libertarian think tank asking a question about blogging of a blog editor is obviously OK. Sending fund raising propoganda can very easily be spam, but there are also ways to do it and not be spam.

Or the other way to look at it: Are you acknowledging my individuality and respecting me, or am I just another faceless number to you?

"What ought to be the

"What ought to be the punishment or restitution?"

Roughly, none.

It doesn’t matter. If you

It doesn’t matter. If you open up your digital property to public use then the door is open. You have two options.
1) Limited invitation: either specifically list the individuals who are permitted in, or list the individuals who are not. This establishes absolute boundaries (rather than vague guidelines), without them I have no way of knowing your intentions.
2) Charge people for the use of data storage. If you were to have a contractual agreement at the end of your comment section with the submit button being a paypal link (.01$ or what ever you decide), I think you would have established a free market solution. Individuals wishing to have their ideas read would have to decide if there post/email was worth the monetary cost (and additional time cost). And you would have to determine the values of your data storage vs. blog popularity.

I don’t think either one of these are unreasonable, they are the solutions we have to tangible property, why not digital property as well.

Any combination of the above

Any combination of the above two would work as well, and neither limits your ability to use filters as long as it is in the contractual understanding.

Roughly, none. Why not?

Roughly, none.

Why not?

Because it's roughly no

Because it's roughly no offense.

Isn't that for the victim to

Isn't that for the victim to decide? Wasting hours of Jonathan's time is pretty damn offensive, don't you think?

How does an individual piece

How does an individual piece of mail waste hours of his time?

How does my theft of a

How does my theft of a fraction of a penny harm your economic well-being? What if I steal a fraction of a penny from millions of people? What if millions of my friends steal a fraction of a penny from you? Is the answer still that roughly no punishment is warranted?

"Is the answer still that

"Is the answer still that roughly no punishment is warranted?"

Is the offense roughly zero in this case?

What does "roughly zero"

What does "roughly zero" mean? Close to zero? Very small? The harm done by stealing a fraction of a penny is "roughly zero" in this sense. But many small effects can add up to one very large effect. Take, for instance, spam.

[...] result in a property

[...] result in a property rights violation. It is not until the recipient reads the email that he decides if the sender has his consent. And of course, depending on the circu [...]