Percolating through various channels last week was Larry Lessig’s offer to resign if an anti-spam bill he proposes is enacted and doesn’t reduce the overall level of spam. He’s asked Declan McCullagh to judge whether or not the law (if passed) is effective. Anyway, Declan doesn’t think he’ll get the chance to judge the law’s effectiveness because he doesn’t believe it will pass, the problem being that it’s difficult to define spam. I think that any definition has to include bulk mailing to make sense. That’s the problem with referring to spam as simply “unsolicited commercial email.” If I want to find a job in the computer industry and I go to the trouble of looking up the email addresses for HR contacts at a bunch of companies, and then write each of them a personal cover letter and forward them my résumé, is it spam? Not by my definition. By the same token, if somebody wants me to change hosting providers to their company and sends me a personal email, I don’t have a problem with that. That’s how business is transacted. By the same token, if a hosting company sends email to every address in the whois database or I buy a list of 100,000 HR email addresses and I blast all of them, then that’s spam.