According to a release issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, Justice Robert Nicholson rejected defences made by Mansfield and Clarity1 against ACMA claims that they distributed at last 56 million commercial e-mails in the 12 months since the Spam Act came into force in April 2004, most of which were unsolicited and in breach of the legislation.
Clarity1 claimed unsuccessfully that the e-mail recipients had consented to receive the messages, and that Clarity1 could use harvested lists acquired before the Act came into force to send spam e-mails at any time, the ACMA said.
"The fact that address-harvesting may have occurred at a time when no such prohibition was in the law, does not prevent the application of the provision in its term from the date it came into force," said Justice Nicholson.
The court advised penalties would be determined at a later date.
Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman, described the decision as "an important test case for the Spam Act."Justice Nicholson's findings should give Australians confidence in the effectiveness of this important legislation. "The receipt of spam imposes significant cost and inconvenience on individuals and businesses by disrupting e-mail delivery, clogging up computer systems, reducing productivity, wasting time, irritating users and raising the cost of Internet access fees". He said the case provided "a strong indication" to Australian spammers that their activities would be "vigorously pursued by ACMA".