When CAN you SPAM? A Quick Guide to the CAN-SPAM Act

Enrico Schaefer - March 31, 2017 - Internet Law, Spam Law


Spam.  Junk Mail.  Technically defined as “any electronical mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a product or service.”  You know, the e-mails that are building up in your Gmail “Promotions” tab at this very moment and will likely go unread.  Annoying, yes.  Useful, perhaps (especially when you score a sweet discount from your favorite retailer).  But legal?  Surprisingly, yes!  Under United States Law, the CAN-SPAM Act makes spam legal, albeit with a few restrictions.  In order to utilize spam legally in your business, it is important to follow these three basic guidelines:

1. Avoid False/Misleading Headers & Subject Lines

The “from” e-mail, domain name, and subject lines must be truthful and accurately reflect the content of the message.  The CAN-SPAM act makes it illegal to send spam with falsified header information.

2. Include a Physical Address

A legitimate physical address (which can be a P.O. Box) must be included in the spam message.

3. Provide an Unsubscribe Option At The Bottom

There must be a visible and operable unsubscribe mechanism.  If a recipient chooses to opt-out, their request must be honored within ten (10) business days.  Once a recipient has opted out of your spam mailing, it is illegal to sell or transfer the e-mail address that opted out.  Keep in mind it is also illegal to harvest e-mails for spam purposes.

If you are interested in utilizing spam for your commercial business purposes, Traverse Legal can offer you a personalized assessment on the legality surrounding your proposed spam use.  Contact us today!

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Enrico Schaefer, who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing Business, IP, and Technology Law litigation attorney.