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Fax: Technology That Refuses to Die Under Attack 281

securitas writes "The BBC Magazine's Paul Rubens reports on the ever-growing popularity of the fax machine, despite the widespread availability of e-mail and digital document/photo scanners. Why is fax still so popular? Partly because it is a mature technology that has legal weight and because of the emergence of Internet and Web e-mail-to-fax and fax-to-e-mail gateways, not to mention the relative lack of spam faxes. But that is changing. The New York Times Technology's Lisa Napoli reports that Infoseek founder Steve Kirsch is waging a battle against purveyors of illegal junk faxes (IHT) like, which Kirsch has sued for $2.2 trillion, detailed at Also joining the fight are lawyer and Telephone Consumer Protection Act co-author Gerard Waldron - he won $2.25 million from Finally consumer advocate Robert Braver's has 36 lawsuits pending against the junk fax industry. More evidence that spammers are among the lowest forms of life on Earth."
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Fax: Technology That Refuses to Die Under Attack

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  • by micker ( 668555 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:13PM (#7823345) Homepage
    I have a dozen or so customers coming in every week looking for Fax/Modem Cards... Most of them actually just refer to them as fax cards and dont seem to even know that it is a modem, or that there even was internet before braodband, but oh well....
    • Well, the only thing people use modems for nowadays is to access the Internet. And even there, a modem's your last choice, provided faster networking is available and within your budget.

      I am suprised to hear that people are actually using faxmodems for faxes. I myself much prefer not to have a separate fax machine, but until recently that meant dealing with really awful fax software. Also, people seem to resist the idea of folding fax functions into related devices. I've never worked in office that didn't

      • I find that a lot of people use a modem to send their outgoing faxes, and have a normal fax machine to receive the incomming ones.

        Windows 2000 makes sending a fax as easy as sending it to the printer. Receiving faxes through the modem takes a bit more effort.
    • by Powercntrl ( 458442 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:46PM (#7823531)

      My father is a realator and one of the things he had to do was fax house listings to customers. He used to do it by printing them out, faxing them, then throwing them away. Besides the obvious environmental impact, he was using an inkjet printer at the time which meant it was a very slow process that also consumed a lot of expensive ink.

      When I found out this was how he was sending faxes, I purchased a new-in-box USRobotics Courrier 56k V.Everything external modem on eBay for about $20 (no, I didn't forget any 0's) and set him up with Winfax Pro. I remember those modems costing a fortune back in the days of BBSing... The Courrier was a good workhorse of a modem back in its day and being used for sending/receiving faxes in this age of broadband gives it a new lease on life. And hey, anything that saves paper and keeps electronics out of the landfill is a good thing.
  • A HA! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Judg3 ( 88435 ) <(jeremy) (at) (> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:14PM (#7823349) Homepage Journal
    So that's where Peewee Herman [] ended up, working for the BBC.
    Let's hope he doesn't any movie reviews!
  • Simple.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:16PM (#7823363)
    ...when is the last time you received a FAX offer to enlarge your penis?

    There is certainly a lot of FAX spam, but it's still quite useful today. Not everyone has a scanner handy, and it's often easier to sketch something up or jot a note on paper than it is to scan/crop/edit/add stuff electronically. If you happen to be discussing something static that you have a picture or a PDF of, fine, that's easy to email - but dynamic data has really yet to become widespread and easy to use. I know that there are some new PDF features for markup and such, but they're still not nearly as quick and easy to use as a pen.
    • Re:Simple.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by K8Fan ( 37875 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @06:46PM (#7823812) Journal

      Sure, they can be useful, but my pet peeve is people using faxes as a way to avoid learning to use e-mail. I can't recall how many times I've seen someone:

      • Create a document in a word processing program.
      • Print it out.
      • Feed that into a fax machine.
      • Fax it to someone who...
      • Re-types the document into a word processing program (because the fax looks like shit.)

      It happens every single day in Corporate America.

    • In the form of stock pump and dumps. Every day the office fax gets a "hot stock tip" which is, of course, some company that noone has every heard of who's stock is in the shitter. Since they aren't offering brokerage service or anything just free "advice" the only purpose is pump and dump.

      However, even the legit fax spam is annoying. We get tons of offers for certifications courses (since we are IT), lots of home mortgage offers that are worse than the one I have now, and advertisments for cruises.
    • Tablet PCs will help, I believe.

      Since they allow quick entry of data via a pen-based interface, they should allow for the same level of 'ease of use'.

  • by pinballer ( 655113 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:19PM (#7823381)
    Probably the same argument for IP telephony vs telephones may be applied. When IP or Internet voice calls become standard and analogue lines become antiquainted we'll see the emergence of some applicance (document scanner with an Ethernet interface).

    I guess I'm getting too old! I say, if it works well enough for what you need it for then there's no need for a mad rush to replace something. Bah!

    • by SurgeonGeneral ( 212572 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @06:49PM (#7823827) Journal
      Probably the same argument for IP telephony vs telephones may be applied. When IP or Internet voice calls become standard and analogue lines become antiquainted we'll see the emergence of some applicance (document scanner with an Ethernet interface).

      The thing about analogue lines is their authenticity. It is very difficult to hijack someone's phone number and pretend you are that person. We all know how easy it is to spoof an IP.

      Faxes are considered legal documents in many cases, and they are used to transmit official documents, signitures and alike. This is based solely on the fact that they are transmitted over analogue lines an thus offer significant proof of authenticity.

      Then again, IP telephony would see the end of a lot of telemarketing because you could never trust anyone to be who they say they are and the chances of someone intercepting the call and garnering your private data would be far, far, FAR higher.
      • But, unlike email, IP Telephony requires the other party to maintain a valid address for a reasonably long period of time -- otherwise, how does the responding voice data know where to go?
      • The thing about analogue lines is their authenticity. It is very difficult to hijack someone's phone number and pretend you are that person. We all know how easy it is to spoof an IP.

        You're kidding, right?

        Give me a phone number to call you at, and tell me what phone number you want me to appear to be calling from. It will take me about as long to set the outbound caller ID up as it takes to actually dial the number.
    • Probably the same argument for IP telephony vs telephones may be applied. When IP or Internet voice calls become standard and analogue lines become antiquainted we'll see the emergence of some applicance (document scanner with an Ethernet interface).

      Network scanners have been around for at least 10 years now. Ethernet on a scanner is very, very old news.
  • Maybe.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by niko9 ( 315647 ) * on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:20PM (#7823385)
    it's because fax machiens are soo easy to use. They don't have operating systems, or keyboards or mice. For the most part they are idiot proof, cheap, and portable.

    But most importantly, hey do one thing and do it well.
    • No keyboards? You have a fax machine that takes voice commands?

      One thing and one thing well is it. We have a fax-email gateway at work. I've only used it once and it was a pain in the ass. And useless if I need to send a fax out, unless I have a scanner.

      • One thing and one thing well is it. We have a fax-email gateway at work.

        Well, call me crazy, but a fax-email gateway isn't really doing just *one* thing, now is it?
      • No keyboards?

        Nope. Just a numberpad and a send button. Or at least that's all the old one I used years ago had. ;)
    • I'll have you know I've inserted the material to fax in upside down many times.
    • In an excellent troll you tell us fax machines are wonderful: ... soo easy to use. They don't have operating systems ... idiot proof, cheap, and portable. ...hey [sic] do one thing and do it well.

      The easiest to dispell things you say are:

      • faxes have operating systems. They don't say Microsoft so they work but they are opeerating systems that can image, store and dial repeatedly.
      • faxes are not portable. Have you ever seen anyone carry a fax around? Did they also forward the land line that they were usin
      • The continued existance of fax machines is a condemnation of the world's most prevalent computer software, Microsoft.

        With all due respect: bollocks.

        Fax is still popular because:
        - It's 'always-on' and easy to use. No need to wait for booting, start the software, select options and whatnot. Just stick the paper in, dial the number and press 'send'. Compare that to any fax software on any OS.
        - It's reasonably idiot-proof, and even idiots can see if something's wrong with the machine, and often they ca

        • Your computer should be just as always on, idiot proof, easy to use and legal as a fax machine. If you, like fax machine makers, were using the right software it would be true.

          • Yes, you are right... Now show me the software/hardware that meets these requirements. Please don't tell me that Linux fits the bill. Your suggestion that Microsoft is somehow to blame for this lack is beyond belief... if anything, Microsoft have tried very hard to make the use of computers, and tasks performed on these computers, much easier for the average end-user. (Sure, they have piled bug upon bug in the process)
          • If you, like fax machine makers, were using the right software it would be true.

            As Slashdotters, let's put our money where our mouth is and write this great software.

            We would formulate a fantastic user interface design,structure a robust and error proof algorythm, and produce an elegant, well-documented piece of code.

            And transport it to all popular operating systems and important business languages.
    • For the most part they are idiot proof,

      um, yeah....

      then tell me why I have to scrape white out off the imaging platter weekly because some idiot put fresh white out on a document and then FAXED IT!

      then they wonder why there are stripes on all documents after that.
  • Legal Documents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tobechar ( 678914 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:20PM (#7823389)

    Many companies reply on Fax to get signatures, or approval for a project and etc.

    Faxed documents are used as practical legal documents in Canada, AFAIK. Companies rely on Fax to get their work done, which should keep Fax around for a long long time.

    One question though, isn't it about time to move up from 14,400 baud Fax transmission?!

    • Re:Legal Documents (Score:5, Informative)

      by Phoenixhunter ( 588958 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:31PM (#7823440)
      There are 33.6k baud fax machines ya know...there are even *color* fax machines.
    • Re:Legal Documents (Score:3, Informative)

      by jonbryce ( 703250 )
      My fax machine can transmit at 33.6k, on the rare occasion that it meets another 33.6k fax machine at the other end of the line.
    • I have always wondered that too. Why is the fastest rate only 14.4K?
    • One question though, isn't it about time to move up from 14,400 baud Fax transmission?!

      Aside from the fact that there are already 33.6k Fax machines, I wonder how much of a difference it could really make. The major limit on the fax machine is its print speed. I think that increasing the speed of transmission beyond 33.6k or even 14.4k would make any noticable difference to the end user.

      Color faxes might need an increase in speed but I have a feeling these wont become ubiquitous for a long time.

    • I believe 33.6 was introduced with the G3 fax standard. Atleast, every G3 fax I have seen is 33.6.
    • Why people use fax for signatures and legal documents still elope me. It's the easiest thing in the world to "forge" a fax.
      Most people would be able to (with the assistance of a manual perhaps) to change the "number" and "name" that's printed on the top of the sheets when sending faxes. With the pixelation on signatures it shouldn't be too hard to make a signature that looks real and it's comming from the "correct" fax-number.
      I'm willing to bet there are more people able to do this than to make an fake-emai
    • isn't it about time to move up from 14,400 baud Fax transmission?!

      Probably not. Faxes are used extensively in the developing world, where phone connections are often not so clear.

      There's no reason you couldn't make a fax machine that also handled faster transmission rates and/or higher resolution, but you wouldn't want to make that the default. Plus you would have to convince your fax machine manufacturers that people would actually use it instead of scanning/e-mail when time or resolution is of the e
    • Isn't it about time we move beyond using the term "baud" as a description of speed?

      Baud rate is a measure of the number of signal changes per second. Alas, POTS phone lines are generally spec'd to only 3 KHz. Therefore, they're incapable of anything more than 3,000 signal changes per second, or 3,000 baud.

      To get anything faster than that, you use a modem to get more bits per signal change. But even then, it's still going to be running at less than 3,000 baud.

      "Baud" is a passable measure of speed for a
  • junk faxes not new (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Down8 ( 223459 )
    Junk faxing is not at all new, nor is it uncommon. I know my office was getting 1-2/day (multiple pages), back in 1998ish (and surely before I had started working there).

    There are very specific laws against this, b/c unlike e-mail, it's easily proved that the junk mailer wasted your resources (paper/toner/phone line).

    My idea of a good anti-spam bill would just extend the current anti-junk-fax laws to include any form of electronic communication, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen.

  • Email2Fax (Score:5, Funny)

    by Lars T. ( 470328 ) <> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:25PM (#7823414) Journal
    My dad got the Melissa virus faxed to him at work via a Email2Fax gateway. Over ten pages of VBScript printed out. He also got the first Nigerian Scam I saw via fax.
    • by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:34PM (#7823462) Homepage Journal
      Did he save it?

      I'm sure that it would have brought in a pretty penny on ebay.

    • Re:Email2Fax (Score:3, Interesting)

      He also got the first Nigerian Scam I saw via fax.

      Hey, the Nigerian Scam was making the rounds years ago, before email became popular. I remember first seeing it over 10 years ago when I was a temp worker at the university.

      And that's nothing, according to Snopes, the first varient of this scam was in the 1920's [].
      • Re:Email2Fax (Score:2, Interesting)

        by calyphus ( 646665 )
        The Nigerian scam started as snail mail. The low quality paper and rubber stamped 'letter head' and hand stamped postmarks gave the letters an interesting charm.
    • by cuban321 ( 644777 )
      A while back I received the SirCam [] virus via text message to my cellphone.

      Hi! How are you?
      I send you this file in order to have your advice
      See you later. Thanks

  • Still near universal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rueger ( 210566 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:26PM (#7823415) Homepage
    We still have a trusty old thermal paper fax machine. We added it after several years of fax modem only. The reason was the difficulty in getting WinFax and the faxmodem to handle Identi-Call rings reliably. (After going DSL it made no sense to maintain a second data/fax phone line).

    Since then we have come to realize that everyone has access to a fax of some sort, even people that lack or don't understand e-mail and more advanced technology. If nothing else they can walk down to the corner store and fax us something.

    The other realization is that fax maintains the design or layout of what you're sending without relying on HTML e-mail, attachments, or the sometimes slim odds of your recipient having the same software that you do.

    Aside from that, any piece of paper, even fax peper, holds more weight and seems more legitimate than an e-mail.

  • Fax on and on (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:27PM (#7823420) Homepage Journal
    Somehow computers actually seem to promote the use faxes, rather than replacing them. For example, law firms often need to send copies of documents (proof that they've been signed, etc.). Faxes are the most common method (provided the document isn't too sensitive, since faxes are easily intercepted). Now, one law firm I know of has gone to using email attachments instead. But the firm's scanners aren't easily accessible or easy to use. Solution: send your secretary to reliable old fax machine and have her send the document to your voice mail phone number. The voice mail system automatically converts the fax to an email attachment, which it sends to the recipient. Who then forward the attachment to the recipient.

    That's why the fax continues to be used: it's familiar, intuitive technology. Actually, that's the reason it even exists. When cheap fax machines started to appear in the 80s, a lot of us didn't take them seriously -- we purely digital media as the wave of the future. What we didn't take into account was the severe difficult of converting all those legacy print documents into some easily manipulated online. Tools for creating online documents have improved a lot since then, but they still don't tackle a lot of basic problems, and many (Word, Acrobat) are still biased towards creating hard copy.

  • I have to keep my fax machine disconnected unless I'm sending something or know something's coming in, thanks to and others. I've tried unsubscribing to no avail. They'll still occasionally "ping" my fax line looking for a way to advertise more junk.
  • Why are fax machines popular? Because they are secure. Sure there are more secure methods of delivering information like registered mail. But the potential for someone between company A and company B to intercept information from an E-mail is greater. Likewise the expense of qualified people to setup your secure firewalls and what have you is a greater cost than having to spend on an ISDN line and a half way decent fax machine. Is it possible when sending a fax someone at the other end of the line could swi
    • Yea, right. The phone line is more secure than 1 megabit encryption on your e-mail. Are we forgetting voip? Or cross-country communicaions where the data goes into and out of multiple servers and multiple switches?
    • Secure my ass.

      You can't verify the sender.
      You can't verify the recipient.
      You can't verify whether the contents of the message has been tampered with.
      You can't verify whether the fax got there intact.
      You can't verify that it has been read.

      Well sure it's not bad, and I can probably come up with more problems with faxing if I spend more than a minute thinking about it. Faxes are as secure as postcards, if you wanna bet your companysecrets on a non-encrypted unsigned service, be my guest.
  • point and click (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:31PM (#7823439) Homepage Journal
    The fax machine is the perfect assistant. It is almost 100% reliable with almost not setup, maintainance, or fuss. Put paper in, press a fewe buttons, and go. The last time I used a fax machine it offered two line capabilities, ability to store many pages, as well as computer printer functions.

    Scanning in a document, attaching it to email, and then sending it requires more time, expertise, as well as less reliability. The time issue is the most important.

    I use a fax program but only becuase I hardly ever need to send faxes and I don't want to allocate space for a fax machine. The complexity of me sending a fax from my computer, even if it is a document I create on the computer, is significantly more complex than using a fax machine. I also have used email-to-fax services, but these were only benificial for out-of-area faxes, in which I saved toll charges.

    I see it similiar to Advantix camera. The advantix is probably of lower quality than even a simple 35 mm point and shoot. However, for most people is very much simpler, and therefore the quality issue is compensated for.

    • Re:point and click (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      Also, because a technology has been supersceeded doesn't mean that it will be replaced.

      With PDAs, computers and electronic documents, you'd think people would be asking why the use of the several millennia old idea of pen and paper hasn't been eliminated.

      For so long as there is a practical use for a technology, it won't completely go away.
  • Slashdot is a technology oriented website, i can say with some certainty that everyone here has a fairly comprehensive knowledge of computers. However, this is not true of the rest of the world. For people who know little about computers aside from basic email checking and word processing, sending handwritten documents and other such things electronically is only feasible by fax. I have helped several people who send documents of this nature on a regular basis set up scanners they had purchased. They we
    • While I agree on you with on all your points; my experience is that most of the faxes are typed documents or forms that might as well been done electronically.
      Sending them via email would've saved a lot of paper and ink, and so on.
      Let's not forget about all those hours spent typing forms (received via fax) into various databases. What if these forms were received via email, it would save a lot pages (the actual form * 2 + receipts at both ends).
  • it rides over phone lines, and therefore inherits the very high quality of service inherent to the telephone system, whereas email, phone-over-IP, and anything based on the internet is a best-effort solution. You'll never hear "I don't know, I didn't get a fax from you" whereas one can believably pretend to never have received an email, to justify a lack of response.
    • You'll never hear "I don't know, I didn't get a fax from you"
      Guess you've never sent faxes to offices where they have one common fax machine shared by lots and lots of people.

      IMHO QoS is a non-issue when it comes to fax-like things. Unlike voice, a fax doesn't have to be real-time. A few seconds delay is perfectly acceptible. I think the real problem is that e-mail offers no usable confirmation of delivery. I'm sure there are softwares out there that can do this but no standard.

      With always-on connectio
      • "IMHO QoS is a non-issue when it comes to fax-like things."

        Have you ever sent a fax somewhere in Indonesia?

        I fax Bali quite often, and it usually takes three or four tries to get a *legible* copy across.

        In the US or EU, sure, not an issue. But in developing countries, it certainly *is* an issue.

  • by Jerk City Troll ( 661616 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:34PM (#7823463) Homepage
    They just work.

    When is the last time you just typed up an email address on the computer, slapped your document on the scanner, pushed a button, and everything worked flawlessly without any intervention.

    Fax machines are incredibly easy to use and just seem to work, end of story. They have a user interface that just about everyone is already familiar with (the telephone) where as computers and scanners are just plain over complicated in really stupid ways. There's issues with drivers, non-standard UIs for scanning, and I have yet to see "one button" features work on any scanner on any platform.

    It's a shame not more devices work as easily as fax machines and telephones.

    • When is the last time you just typed up an email address on the computer, slapped your document on the scanner, pushed a button, and everything worked flawlessly without any intervention.

      The problem isn't my end... it's the other side typicaly. Using the lastest all in one units under the microsoft platform... I can indeed do 3 step scan to e-mail without problem. In my case I press "scan" to PC... pull down the sento "e-mail" and it gets sent off NO problem. You can for example have a really cool scan
      • So... what we need is a good format for e-mail transport of fax data, one which will include information like "it's 8.5 / 11, just print it don't fuck with it".

        It's proprietary, but wouldn't PDF fit your description?
        • PDF files are not as portable as they should be. I've received PDF files that do not display properly on a Mac, but look OK on a Windows box. The problem seemed to be related to the document creation software assuming certain fonts are available on the recipient's system. I've also received PDF files that crash the viewer on some operating systems. If you aren't running Mac OS or Windows, there may not be a PDF viewer available for your system.

          I have a DVD full of old hardware and software manuals that we

    • When is the last time you just typed up an email address on the computer, slapped your document on the scanner, pushed a button, and everything worked flawlessly without any intervention.

      That would be the last time I had to print something out for some retard who refused to join the 21st century. Lacking a fax machine, I generally have to snail mail it, or drive to some place that charges to send faxes.

  • I have a private fax machine, have never EVER given the number out to anyone, and yet I get 1 or 2 fax spams a week.
    • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @06:11PM (#7823643) Journal
      Wardialing. It's illegal to do it, but just like spam and spam laws (and telemarketers using autodialing machines with recorded messages), it doesn't deter them in the slightest. Even worse, once they figure out your number has a fax machine attached to it, they then sell that number to all sorts of junk faxers. Soon you'll be getting all the toner, OTC stock tip, mortgage refinance, and free vacations in Florida junk faxes...
  • by Via_Patrino ( 702161 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:35PM (#7823467)
    To (an average person) send a copy of a document to someone is much easier and fast using a fax.

    If you scan and mail it takes sometime:
    - turn the computer (if it's off)
    - wait the scanner to heat (if you didn't use it less than 5 minutes ago)
    - pre-scan (to mark the region will be scanned, it's usually automatic can't jump that phase)
    - choose the right configuration (color and depth) or the result can be a mess and full the mailbox
    - scan (time depends of the choosen configuration)
    - final edition (ajust size, compression)
    - pdf (if it's more than few pages)
    - attach and mail

    Someone may say you can configure that before, but some scanners demand you check the values on every step (and page) and also someone that used the scanner before can have changed the configuration.

    There's also another point that is difficult to share a scanner in a work enviroment while with fax it's easier
  • by Handpaper ( 566373 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:38PM (#7823486)
    see here []

  • My fax machines from 10+ years ago still sitting around for sending and receiving fax. Although most of the time I use attachments with e-mails, I still use it a fair bit for sending documents. It is extremely useful for exchanging signed documents. Unfortunately, I don't use my modem anymore, and my desktop computers don't even have any installed. Getting a PCI fax modem, I found, is a waste of money. And there is no ISA slot in my Athlon or P4... Also, a new PCI or external modem is (~ 3-5 times) mor
  • by Felinoid ( 16872 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:42PM (#7823508) Homepage Journal
    Fax spam was actually a problem LONG before e-mail spam was an issue.
    (However e-mail spam dose predate fax spam that's annother issue)

    Before the famous greencard spam some companys engadged in fax spam. Including SCO.
    Samford Walace was one of those people. But when fax spam was outlawed he switched to e-mail. However thsi method of marketting had already receaved a bad reputation from the green card spam and worse.

    Samford however didn't care if he pissed people off.
    If you complainned to Samford directly about his spam he'd put you on a specal mailing list where he'd send a message ever hour on the hour and then every 30 minuts with the express purpous of flooding your e-mail box.

    What samford did was harrasment.. in fax and later in e-mail. He set the standards for the spam and junk fax industrys even if he started nither. Chances are good if he had chousen a diffrent field (one he maybe knows something about as he never got that harrasing your target market is very stupid marketting) we'd probably not need laws banning junk fax or e-mail and the industry standards would actually respect the target markets fealings by implamenting and enforcing it's own industry standards that come short of banning.
    Such as no harvesting of e-mail addresses, no illegal products, no deceptive advertsing, honnor unsubscribe requests, always offer unsubscription forms, never sell unsubscriptions (as confermed spam lists).. or even spam lists (as there'd be no way to get off them if you sold the list)
    • Chances are good if he had chousen a diffrent field (one he maybe knows something about as he never got that harrasing your target market is very stupid marketting) we'd probably not need laws banning junk fax or e-mail and the industry standards would actually respect the target markets fealings by implamenting and enforcing it's own industry standards that come short of banning.

      I wouldn't bet on it. There's an endless supply of jerks in the world.

  • SCO Connection (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcp797 ( 656922 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:54PM (#7823563)

    From the junk fax FAQ on tort law. Does anyone know if this could apply to the SCO case?

    Q. Can you go after the individuals involved as well as the corporation?

    A. Yes.

    The "general rule," discussed in 3A Fletcher, Fletcher Cyclopedia of the Law of Private Corporations (perm. ed. rev. vol. 2002), sets forth as follows:

    "An individual is personally liable for all torts which that individual committed, notwithstanding the person may have acted as an agent or under directions of another. This rule applies to torts committed by those acting in their official capacities as officers or agents of a corporation. It is immaterial that the corporation may also be liable. Under the responsible corporate officer doctrine, if a corporate officer participates in the wrongful conduct, or knowingly approves the conduct, the officer, as well as the corporation, is liable for the penalties. The person injured may hold either liable, and generally the injured person may hold both as joint tort-feasors.

    "Corporate officers are liable for their torts, although committed when acting officially, even though the acts were performed for the benefit of the corporation and without profit to the officer personally. Corporate officers, charged in law with affirmative official responsibility in the management and control of the corporate business, cannot avoid personal liability for wrongs committed by claiming that they did not authorize and direct that which was done in the regular course of that business, with their knowledge and with their consent or approval, or such acquiescence on their part as warrants inferring such consent or approval. However, more than mere knowledge may be required in order to hold an officer liable. The plaintiff must show some form of participation by the officer in the tort, or at least show that the officer directed, controlled, approved, or ratified the decision which led to the plaintiff's injury. . . . A corporate officer or director may not seek shelter from liability in the defense that he or she was only following orders. Personal liability attaches, regardless of whether the breach was accomplished through malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance."

    Id. at 1135.

    In addition, an important distinction should be noted: "[p]ersonal liability for the torts of officers does not depend on the same grounds as 'piercing the corporate veil,' that is inadequate capitalization, use of the corporate form for fraudulent purposes, or failure to comply with the formalities of corporate organization. The true basis of liability is the officer's violation of some duty owed to the third person which injures such third person." Id.
  • by molafson ( 716807 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:54PM (#7823568)
    I used to work in a small office. As a consequence of the work we did, we had to send out a specifications sheet several times a week. Now, every single time either my boss, her assistant, or the receptionist tried to fax this document they'd always screw it up. No matter how many times I showed them, they'd always screw it up. Eventually I got so pissed at having to stop my work to help them with the fax machine, I decided to save our specs to a PDF which thereafter they could email. Things proceeded a lot more smoothly after that. (Except when we updated our specs, but the receptionist kept sending out the old file for weeks... God, I hated that job.)
  • Sure ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:56PM (#7823580) Journal
    while computers and e-mails can carry viruses, fax machines can never be put out of action by a hacker or malicious program code.

    Hmmm... Sure o'that ? I reckon' that if you have a look at the faxes firmware, some security holes would appear, at least in some machines. Enough to let you remotely print a fake fax, with wrong number id, or send faxes to other people. A fax virus would be perhaps possible, although unlikely due to the many different brands of firmware out there. Diversity and single-purposedness of faxes is what protects them.

  • Fax Revenge (Score:5, Funny)

    by rf0 ( 159958 ) * <> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @05:56PM (#7823582) Homepage
    If you ever want to get revenge on a spammer and they have a 1-800 number just get yourself the following

    A piece of blackpaper

    Place the blackpaper into the fax machine and sellotape to make a tube.

    Enter the number and hit send

    All the other end will receieve it page after page of black printout. It might be an urban legend but apparently there was one type of fax machine that would overheat and catch fire if this was done to it

    • All the other end will receieve it page after page of black printout. It might be an urban legend but apparently there was one type of fax machine that would overheat and catch fire if this was done to it

      I'm not sure if this is an urban legend.... or took place in reality.

      I'm thinking the old thermal paper fax machines where the paper came on a roll, and physicaly cut when it reached the end of page.

      I'm not sure if any of those units are left in service.... the last one I know of was when a friend of mi
    • Aaaahhh... The innocent days of high school [], with excursions to the Technical Musum in Oslo []. Where they had a fax machine. That could dial any landline for free so kids could say "Hi" to dad at work. But we tapet three sheets of paper together, hacked the line to dial the Information, got the school fax number and sent the longest fax I've ever seen.

      Those were the days, indeed.
  • Telex, that thing that the fax replaced. That required a number of years to die off after faxes became populer. It was fast, it could almost keep up with a fast typest.

    The two big things that telex had over a fax is that
    1. A telex message was a legel document a copy of the telex message was keeped a both ends.
    2. A telex would work here faxes could not (bad phone systems, old exchanges, ship to shore)

    Telex is not dead yet, just almost.

  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @06:04PM (#7823614) Homepage Journal
    You can be fined ( rather large fine ) for sending spam faxes here in my area.

    It was passed long ago, since the person receiving the fax has to pay for it...

    ( much as we have to do for e-spam too , i know THEY are not paying for my bandwidth or storage or time.. )
  • Why I use fax (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @06:05PM (#7823619) Homepage
    I find that you get a much faster response to a fax than to any other form of communication.

    It is much harder to ignore a fax sitting on your desk than it is to pretend that the email got lost in the spam filter, or the letter got lost in the post, or to sit for hours waiting for them to answer the voice telephone.

    Fax spam can be a problem in the UK. Fortunately, my home fax machine isn't on any of the spammers lists, but at work we get about 15 spams per day, even although they are illegal.

    If work was a Ltd company rather than a partnership then it would be legal to send them unless you put your number on the "do not fax" list (Fax Preference Service). A lot of spammers will stop if you put it on that list, but there are others who use the FPS as a list of confirmed working fax machines, and spam their own "Do not fax" services to that list. They generally want about GBP5.00 for you to be placed on the list.

    If you try complaining about it, nobody wants to know.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @06:15PM (#7823661) Homepage
    ...despite the fact that every computer I've used since 1984 had a built-in "desk calculator" accessory (and friends who used SideKick have had one even longer), I have a pocket calculator in my desk drawer at home... and at work... and my wife has one on her desk... and so does just about everyone else I know.

    I use several different versions of Windows at work (XP, Win2K, NT 4.0, and 98) and I can pull the calculator out of my desk drawer in less time than it takes to figure out where in the start menu they've put the calculator in THIS version of Windows.

    In the old Mac OS the calculator was under the Apple menu, but it isn't any more and if I'm away from my own Mac it takes less time to pull out a calculator than to bring up a new Finder window, select Applications, select Utilities, discover that the Calculator isn't a Utility, find it in Applications, drag it to the taskbar--oops, excuse me, Dock so I can find it again...

    And the real-world calculator always has the buttons in the right places (regardless of what keyboard I'm using or whether NumLock is on)--and is, as far as I know, free from arithmetic or roundoff bugs.

    Oh, and it doesn't take any time to boot. And it runs for YEARS and YEARS on a watch battery (my PDA only gets six months on a set of AA's).
  • hylafax and whfc (Score:2, Interesting)

    by timmarhy ( 659436 )
    has no one here ever used hylafax and whfc ? they are a pure joy to use and 100% reliable, much easier and less time consuming then printing out a document then faxing it. just click print, select your number from an address book and forget about it. i mean for most faxes, who keeps paper documents any more except really small offices?
  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @06:37PM (#7823772) Homepage
    It's not like spammers are just now discovering fax machines. Junk faxes are old enough news that there's already legislation [] on the books to cover them, in the U.S.

    The reason people like fax machines isn't because they don't get junk faxes. It's not because fax machines are easy to use, either (though they are -- but with a little computer literacy, email is too).

    You can sum up fax's popularity in one word: Paper.

    Think about it.
  • ... won't accept emailed instructions to do anything, not even a Word document with an embedded picture which is my scanned signature.

    But they will accept a fax as an instruction do to something ... even if the fax is a Word document with an embedded picture which is my scanned signature.

    (Actually this is quite useful. If something needs to be done with my wife's bank account whilst she's in the US on a jolly, I've got her signature on disk and can just send a fax to her bank. (I usually remember to email
  • Fax is popular because it's easy. Plug it into the power & phone lines, drop a pieece of paper in, dial another faxmachine, and it goes. Not to mention that wallpower, phoneline and paper are selfcontained, reliable technologies that rarely surprise the user with complexity. Every technology could take a page from fax's book.
  • Third world faxes (Score:3, Informative)

    by ThesQuid ( 86789 ) <a987@mac . c om> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @07:20PM (#7824019) Journal
    I do a lot of business with small factories in China. Most if not all of these factories don't have any sort of connectivity other than fax. It's going to be quite some time before faxes are replaced in such situations.

    Plus, with languages like chinese, japanese etc., it's always been easier to write something out by hand and send a fax than fight with a computer. In major metro centers, sure, it's changing, but fax will have a place there for a good long time.
  • We get junk faxes all the time at ungodly hours in the morning...usually between midnuight and 3am. It's not just a problem for dedicated fax lines. We will probably have to change our phone number because of these scumbags...their "removal" lines never work.
  • I have a fax machine in my bedroom that I mostly use as a voice phone on my one phone line, sending or (by prearrangement) receiving a fax once in a while. I usually don't leave the fax on autoanswer, but one day I did, because I was expecting a fax from my insurance company and forgot to switch the machine back afterwards. Some wardialer found the number (or the insurance company leaked or sold it) and I've had a steady stream of junk faxes.

    The reason this is so much worse than typical junk faxes is

  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:01PM (#7824816) Homepage
    Everything else is on magnetic or optical media that doesnt have much life anyway. The fax produces hard copies which are fast becoming a commodity.
  • Because it works (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dacarr ( 562277 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:09PM (#7824861) Homepage Journal
    Yes, I know, we were supposed to all be working in a paperless office ten years ago. So why not? Because electronica can be diddled with and altered. You can do it to paper, but it's a lot harder and can be proven otherwise.
  • Using a PC to Fax:

    Step 1: Lift cover of scanner and insert document face down with the letterhead toward the hinge of the cover

    Step 2: Import the document into $MS_PRODUCT

    Step 3: Select File -> Print

    Step 4: Select the "Fax" Printer

    Step 5: Press Print, enter Fax Number when Prompted, then click OK

    Troubleshooting: If document fails to scan, follow the "Scanner Troubleshooting" section of your 2000 page user manual. If document fails to fax, follow the "Microsoft Printer Subsystem" troubleshooting sec

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