Balanagara ???

To: <>
Subject: Balanagara ???
From: "Philip Veerman" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2011 23:53:55 +1100
All rather strange, I thought this was a communication channel for people
interested in birds and possibly even bird related products or opportunities
to contribute. Odd to have a detailed discussion about legislation and
litigation. Why would anyone bother? 

I receive about 5 to 10 scam / spam emails every day. Nothing to do with
Birding-Aus. These are annoying but just part of having internet. I delete
them off the server before they reach my computer. So what? I survive. 

I think we can consider the occasional item about birding products. It would
really REALLY annoy me if I found out after the event that I was deprived of
the knowledge or an opportunity to participate in this venture (if indeed I
wanted to) because of an overzealous interpretation of "the Spam Act 2003".
If that was to happen that really would be a reason to unsubscribe from

As for the last suggestion by Paul, that is just crazy. That would mean in
effect that all of us would not be permitted to send unsolicited messages
individually (off line) to any members of the list on any item that we
thought would be of interest or relevance to just that person or a small
number of people. I for one often send a message to just one or a few people
on items that appeared (for a whole range of possible reasons) suitable to
just one or a few people. I do that as a courtesy to not involve everyone.
Paul's suggestion would mean that in every case where we obtain an email
address from birding-aus, we would need to send every such message to the
list and thus to everyone (in order to not bypass the birding-aus moderation
system), even when the messages are of no relevance to the great majority of
people on the list. 

Perfect example: a few days ago a regular contributor accidentally typed
"west" instead of "east" in referring to a location of an observation.
Following Paul's idea, I would not have been permitted to privately send my
unsolicited email to this person to ask or clarify about what turned out to
be just a trivial wording error. This because I obtained the email address
via birding-aus. I would need to instead send my unsolicited email to the
list, which would be a total over reaction and an annoyance and waste of
time for everyone else. I was told that no one else had commented on the
little error. 


-----Original Message-----
From: Paul G Dodd  
Sent: Friday, 18 November 2011 10:49 PM
To: 'Philip Veerman'; ; 
Subject: Balanagara ???


It makes no difference whether the cause is good or not. It makes no
difference whether the project has merit or not. It makes no difference if
the film is worthwhile or not.

Sending unsolicited email in Australia is illegal. It is as simple as that.
It contravenes the Spam Act 2003 - and everyone should be aware that this
law is incredibly strict, and the fines are potentially huge - up to
$1.1million PER DAY for businesses. There are also heavy fines for
individuals breaching this Act also.

Whilst Balangara Films clearly meant well, what they have done contravenes
the Spam Act and ANY recipient of this email could be justified in reporting
them to the ACMA.

A good proportion of my business life involves working with businesses and
ensuring that when they participate in bulk email campaigns they do so
within the law and not outside it. That means that businesses MUST have a
pre-existing business relationship with the recipients of their emails - and
this does not include both being members of the same mailing list
(birding-aus). Alternatively, businesses must only send email to customers
that opt-in to receive email (which is how birding-aus works). All
recipients, regardless of the rule by which they became recipients must be
able to opt-out of receiving these emails - and there are equally heavy
fines for disregarding opt-out requests.

I can't find the exact figures, but Spam accounts for an incredibly high
proportion of email sent in the world and a huge amount of money is wasted
each year in attempting to prevent Spam, and in dealing with the
consequences of Spam. It is not a trivial matter.

Putting the legalities aside for the moment, I am sure that none of us like
receiving unsolicited email - and I must say that I particularly don't like
receiving unsolicited email asking me for money.

The correct approach here would have been to write to the list owner
(Russell) and ask him if it was OK to publish some information about the
project and the film and to ask the list subscribers to opt-in to
Balangara's mailing list if they were interested in finding out more. Once
people had opted-in, Balangara could have sent out their email to the

And I'm sorry Mark, but to give the sending of unsolicited mail a
clever-sounding name like "crowd funding" is simply hiding behind those
words - unsolicited email in any form whatsoever is Spam. I am not opposed
to the idea of raising money for a worthwhile project by collecting small
amounts from many people (which really is what "crowd funding" is), but it
must be done legally.

My advice to Russell, the birding-aus list owner, will be to add some terms
and conditions to the web site that specifically disallow
the collection of email addresses from birding-aus for the purpose of
sending unsolicited emails directly to the members of birding-aus and
bypassing the birding-aus moderation system.

Paul Dodd
Docklands, Victoria


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