Don’t Get Slammed for Spam—Understanding the Email Rules for Businesses


Most New York and New Jersey businesses use some form of email marketing. However, many are not aware that emails that are commercial in nature must comply with certain rules established by the CAN-SPAM Act. Moreover, failure to do so can result in costly penalties of up to $16,000 per email.

As noted above, the rules only apply to commercial messages. Commercial messages advertise or promote a commercial product or service. Meanwhile, transactional or relationship messages, which facilitate an already agreed-upon transaction or update a customer about an ongoing transaction, are exempt from most provisions of the CAN-SPAM Act.

If the email contains both commercial and relationship content, the primary purpose of the communication must be determined. The Federal Trade Commission, the entity responsible for enforcing the CAN-SPAM Act, offers the following guidance:

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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