Thursday, March 3, 2011

Keeping It Legal

Here is the situation – I submitted some images to be juried into a national art show a couple of years ago – and did it electronically. I expected to receive some e-mails about the status of my application and information on where to send my images that were accepted into the show – what I didn’t expect to get was to be put onto their e-mail marketing list – and be sent e-mails about things that I don’t want to know about. Keep in mind I’m a big fan of the organization they do good work in our local community to support local artists – but they are also violating federal law.

The law in question is the CAN-SPAM Act - and violating this can lead to you losing your ability to send out your e-newsletter and other promotional materials about your art. Not only is it a good business practice to make sure you aren’t spamming people who haven’t signed up for your e-newsletter – it also makes you a decent human being.

So what are the rules to the CAN-SPAM Act – and what do you need to do to make sure you are following them?

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information – So state clearly who the E-mail is really from – I would put “Maria Montano Photography” - that way people know immediately that it is from me.

  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines – State what the e-mail is actually going to be about – “New Images Available from Maria Montano Photography” is a good example.

  3. Identify the message as an ad – If you are selling something, be up front about that – the example above meets the standard for this.

  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. – You must include your physical address for your business. For those of us who work out of our homes – and feel funny about putting your actual home address on the e-mail – open up a post office box and use that for your e-mail marketing.

  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you – This is the biggest and most important step for you to make sure that you are compliant on. If people can’t find out how to unsubscribe from your newsletter – they are more likely to report you for violating the CAN-SPAM Act. Simply add this statement to the end of every e-mail you send out:
    “You are receiving this email because you signed up for my newsletter list.

    Unsubscribe from this list – click here.”

  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly – If someone clicks the unsubscribe link in your e-mail – you must remove them within 10 days of that request. If you use a service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp – this is handled for you automatically.

  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. – Having someone else do your marketing for you? You are personally responsible to make sure that they are not violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

So be a good business person – and a decent human being – don’t send e-mails to people who haven’t signed up for your newsletter or other announcements. It isn’t only the right thing to do – it’s the law.

For more information on the CAN-SPAM Act, visit :

Maria Montano is the webmaster for Fine Print Imaging as well as a photographer.

She is passionate about using her images to create social change, be it conserving our natural resources or raising awareness about social justice issues.

Learn more about Maria - and her work - click here