The University of Texas (UT) didn’t violate the free-speech rights of an online dating service when it blocked thousands of unsolicited eMail messages from the company, a federal appeals court says.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also found that although White Buffalo Ventures LLC, which operates LonghornSingles.com, complied with the requirements of the federal anti-spam law, known as CAN-SPAM, the university still can set its own anti-spam policy.

White Buffalo had sued the university over 59,000 messages blocked by spam filters in 2003. The Austin, Texas-based service had legally obtained the eMail addresses from UT but the university blocked the eMail messages, saying White Buffalo was part of a larger spam problem that had crashed the computer system.

The university said it also was responding to complaints from students and faculty. The court, in a ruling issued Aug. 2, determined that White Buffalo complied with federal law and that its eMail messages were not illegal. However, CAN-SPAM does not supersede protection measures employed by an internet service provider (ISP), and the court interpreted ISPs to include the university.