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Let's say I receive a spam which mentions a fictive company printmycatphotos.com.

If I follow the link, upload files, and finalize the transaction, clearly printmycatphotos.com has made some profit. But is it the only one which just made profit ? Has somebody at printmycatphotos.com necessarily made the decision to use spam (whether they name it spam internally or not) as a way to find new customers? The URL in this spam doesn't link directly to printmycatphotos.com, but through wyclic.com. The reply-to is also not directly related to the company.

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This largely depends on the legal system in the country the complaint is filed, so the usual IANAL disclaimer applies. In general this kind of thing is an investigative matter. If the company's site is mentioned in spam, an investigator will assume that the site is involved or responsible. Further investigation will likely involve looking for money trails to known spammers, rogue advertising networks, malware factories, etc. However, if a jury can be convinced that the company was aware of and directly involved in the spam, it may be possible to convict them under a conspiracy charge.

  • And there is also the issue of companies with promotional programs (tell your friends about printmycatphotos.com and get 10%) with promo coded URLs. Then other people end up doing the spamming with URLs having their promo codes. So both end up profiting. But many companies doing these promos "know" people will spam. – Skaperen Jan 27 '13 at 6:00

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