Pollster Loses Restraining-Order Request

FRAMINGHAM (08/09/2000) - A U.S. District Court judge in Rochester, N.Y., Tuesday denied a request from market-research firm Harris Interactive Inc. for a temporary restraining order that would have forced an antispam organization to take the company off a list of e-mail spammers while a lawsuit filed last month by Harris is heard.

Mail Abuse Prevention System LLC (MAPS), which maintains a list of spammers that's distributed to Internet and e-mail service providers such as America Online Inc. and Microsoft Corp.'s Hotmail, called the decision by Judge David G. Larimer "an important first-round victory for us" in the case.

MAPS and more than a dozen of its member companies were sued by Harris, which claimed its inclusion on the Realtime Blackhole List led to a blocking of e-mail messages that were intended to go to people who participate in its surveys.

Dan Hucko, a spokesman for Harris, couldn't be reached this morning for comment on the denial of the Rochester-based company's request for a temporary restraining order or on reports that Harris has dropped AOL from the list of defendants in the suit.

Harris charged in the suit that its designation as a spammer was driven by a complaint from one of its rivals, Incom Research Inc. in Norwalk, Conn. But Peter Popovich, director of online operations at MAPS in Redwood City, Calif., said his organization had received compaints from "several" users who documented that they had received unsolicited e-mail from Harris.

Popovich said MAPS requires complainants to file detailed supporting documents, such as records of e-mail and phone communications with the alleged spammer.

And companies are only added to the Realtime Blackhold List if they don't change their e-mail policies to avoid sending unsolicited messages after complaints are received, he added.

"MAPS does review complaints for credibility," Popovich said. MAPS spoke with Harris about the complaints lodged against the company last December and again in June in an effort to resolve the situation, he noted.

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