The social networking site MySpace.com won another victory against spammers and phishers yesterday, after a court-appointed arbiter told the defendant in the case to pay the company $6 million to settle a dispute.
Scott Richter, owner of Media Breakaway LLC of Westminster, Colo., a web marketing firm, must pay $4.8 million in damages and $1.2 million for MySpace's legal fees. He said his firm will pay the award without appeal.
Richter, who was once accused of pumping out more than 100 million spam messages per day, was sued by MySpace in January 2007 in connection with an August 2006 campaign in which MySpace members were hit with unsolicited messages promoting a Web site called Consumerpromotionscenter.com. The messages were sent from phished MySpace accounts, according to the findings of Philip Boesch, the court-appointed arbitrator in the case.
Media Breakaway claimed that "rogue affiliates," contractors hired by the company to send messages, were to blame for the phishing and spam.
Richter, however, claimed the ruling as a victory, explaining in a statement that "the final award in favor of MySpace was 95% less than the amount demanded by MySpace, as the Arbitrator determined that 'MySpace’s demands are so disproportionate to proven actual damages, or Media Breakaway profits.'"
Myspace, on the other hand, said in a release that the decision is more evidence that it is doing everything within its power to purge its Web site of abuse.
This isn't the first time Richter has had to pay a settlement for his and his company's online actions. In 2005, a previous company of Richter's, Optinrealbig.com, paid Microsoft $7 million to settle similiar charges.
Despite this recent settlement, Richter says Breakaway Media is doing everything it can to ensure it follows the law—which as he noted, the arbitater acknowledged.
“We appreciate the Arbitrator’s acknowledgement of the many steps we have taken as a company over recent years to improve our compliance practices and our methods of monitoring the activities of our affiliates,” said Richter. “Our goal is to continuously enhance our compliance programs and exceed what is required by law and industry best practices.”