Can-Spam Act of 2003 Information

What Is The Can-Spam Act?

The TopicaPlus compliance team is always monitoring the latest rules & laws to ensure you always have your best foot forward.

What You May Be Wondering About The Can-Spam Act.

While TopicaPlus cannot provide direct legal advice, we feel it is very important to provide you with our interpretation of how the federal law may affect you and your company. This page is a summary of some provisions of the law, and is not a full analysis of how it may apply to you. If you believe you may be affected, you should consult with your own attorney.
TopicaPlus has already taken action to help you comply with the various requirements.

What Is This All About?

The Can-Spam Act of 2003 was signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 16, 2003. It establishes the United States' first national standards for the sending of commercial email and requires the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce its provisions. We at TopicaPlus are happy with this legislation. We strongly believe it's a positive step towards fighting spam while, at the same time, making it easier for legitimate email marketers (like yourself!) to comply with anti-spam laws. While we believe the law still needs to be improved, it does have the ball rolling forward and imposes more accountability on those who choose to blatantly ignore common sending practices.

What You Need to Know?

The law went into effect January 1, 2004 and is preemptive of all state laws. This means that it overrides the thirty-six states that have existing spam laws. And, most importantly, it is preemptive to the tough pending California law that was to go in effect January 1st as well. The good news is that you only have to comply with one law: the federal law. Unlike California state law which would have allowed a private right of action entitling recipients of prohibited spam to sue for statutory damages of $1,000 per message, the federal anti-spam bill does not include a private right of action.

Fighting Spam

While this new law will not stop spam, it does make most spam illegal and ultimately less attractive to spammers. The law is specific about requirements to send commercial email and empowers the federal government to enforce the law. The penalties can include a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years.

How it Affects You

As a TopicaPlus client, you are already in compliance with much of the federal law, but there are a few things you need to be aware of going forward.

How you already comply

Your list is a permission-based list, which means that you don't have to comply with the unsolicited email requirements stated in the law:

  • Your email header information is not misleading because it is set for you by TopicaPlus
  • Your email campaign's "From" address is your address and already accurately identifies you as the sender
  • TopicaPlus automatically includes the ability for your subscribers to opt-out of future email campaigns
  • TopicaPlus automatically processes unsubscribes from your email campaigns

What you need to be aware of going forward

  • Make sure that your email campaign's "Subject" line is straightforward, not misleading. The days of using cute phrases, tricks or other sneaky tactics to boost open rates are over.
  • If you aren't already doing so, any unsubscribe requests that come to you via a reply to your email must be honored within 5 days of the request.
  • You will now also need to include a physical address in your email campaigns. TopicaPlus' Campaign Wizard already prompts you to comply with this part of the law.

What we are doing

The new law requires that all email campaigns include the sender's physical address. To accommodate this legal requirement, we have inserted room for your company's address in small print at the bottom of all templates. This information can be saved in your settings.

Learn More

To read the federal law, please visit: You can also view the Wikipedia page about the Can-Spam Act. As part of our commitment to you, we will keep you posted on the continuing changes in the email marketing industry. If you have specific questions about your organization, we recommend that you contact your attorney.
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