If you want to send commercial emails to other businesses
(bookstores, catalogs, associations, or corporations, you need to abide by the
Can-Span Act of 2003. Here are some provisions of the law. For more details, see
The law, which became effective January 1, 2004, covers email
whose primary purpose is advertising or promoting a commercial product or
service, including content on a Web site. A transactional or relationship
message email that facilitates an agreed-upon transaction or updates a
customer in an existing business relationship may not contain false or
misleading routing information, but otherwise is exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.
Here's a rundown of the law's main provisions (what it requires of commercial emailers):
- It bans false or misleading header information. Your
email's "From," "To," and routing information including the originating
domain name and email address must be accurate and identify the person who initiated the email.
- It prohibits deceptive subject lines. The subject line cannot mislead the recipient
about the contents or subject matter of the message.
- It requires that your email give recipients an opt-out
method. You must provide a return email address or another Internet-based
response mechanism that allows a recipient to ask you not to send future email
messages to that email address, and you must honor the requests. You may
create a "menu" of choices to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of
messages, but you must include the option to end any commercial messages from the sender.
Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for
at least 30 days after you send your commercial email. When you receive an
opt-out request, the law gives you 10 business days to stop sending email to
the requestor's email address. You cannot help another entity send email to
that address, or have another entity send email on your behalf to that
address. Finally, it's illegal for you to sell or transfer the email addresses
of people who choose not to receive your email, even in the form of a mailing
list, unless you transfer the addresses so another entity can comply with the law.
- It requires that commercial email be identified as an
advertisement and include the sender's valid physical postal address. Your
message must contain clear and conspicuous notice that the message is an
advertisement or solicitation and that the recipient can opt out of receiving
more commercial email from you. It also must include your valid physical postal address.
Each violation of the above provisions is subject to fines of
up to $11,000. Deceptive commercial email also is subject to laws banning false or misleading advertising.
For further information, see the following statement issued by a law firm regarding the Can-Spam Act:
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