This holiday season, e-mail marketers should take their list and check it twice. Starting January 1, 2004, California has banned unsolicited commercial e-mail messages sent from the state or to any of its residents. As the country's most aggressive anti-spam measure, the law allows state residents to sue spammers for $1,000 per violation, up to $1 million.
"We now have a state law that makes compliance difficult," says J. Trevor Hughes, executive director of the Network Advertising Initiative, a trade group of e-mail marketing providers and tech companies. Hughes says 35 states have anti-spam legislations, most addressing phony return addresses and deceptive subject lines.
Businesses can still e-mail information to people who have requested it or to past customers. That's why Ed Patrick, 37, isn't worried. The founder of M4Internet, a San Mateo, California, provider of e-mail marketing services, says this law won't affect companies like his that use a two-step confirmation process for opt-in addresses. He advises businesses to be diligent about confirming opt-in addresses, providing opt-out mechanisms and removing opt-outs ASAP.
Looking for that perfect font for your brochure? How about that just-right sound or animation for your Web site? Zip on over to Clipart.com, a subscription-based service that offers 2.6 million fonts, photos, clip art images, simpleanimations and sounds. The liberal usage policy allows you royalty-free rights to reprint or reuse the material however you like-as long as you don't resell it or give it away. While some sites offer material like this for free, none is as comprehensive. And with prices like $7.95 for a week's access or $150 per year, it's not going to break the bank.
Gwen Moran is a consultant and writer specializing in marketing. Reach her at email@example.com.