> rather than trying to stick some kid in pound-me-in-the-ass hard-core prison, for writing a script that spams a bunch of crap to a million accounts.
Writing a script is not a problem, you can do what you want with your own resources, however it gets more complicated when you involve my resources (bandwidth + time) and resources I pay in part for (ISP staff handling the mail servers, the bandwidth my ISP needs to handle the torrent of spam in addition to legitimate traffick).
This conviniently excludes the fact that spammers use malware induced zombies (definitely illegal) to send the messages (for various technical and economic reasons)
Let's do a quick calculation; I use a few minutes a day to doublecheck that I have no important mail in the spam folder, this at my consulting rates comes to about 10EUR/day, let's round the daily spam to 200pcs so per spam it's 0.05EUR, doesn't sound much ? well it does add up, multiply by a few hundred million messages sent per spam run and suddenly it's a very real and very big cost to society (and this is just the lost time alone, adding all the extra infrastructure and staff will increase the cost even more).
Joe-Jobs are of course a problem but should be easy to weed out with proper investigation, but yes, going after the spammers themselves is going to be unproductive. OTOH those actually selling the stuff need some way to handle payments which will make tracking them down relatively easy. So go after the ones who pay for spam to be sent, fine them say 1USD/spam, halved if their help is instrumental in nailing the actual spammer (1USD/spam plus of course whatever using malware to zombie boxes earns them) and of course if they're breaking any other laws then that's a separate issue.