questionsis it really my problem if someone sends me an…

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I keep them all. If the government ever confiscates my computer I'm going away for a long, long time.

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I get those at work all the time and blow them off. I just delete them and go on. My co-workers are prone to "forwarditiss". They forward whatever nonsense comes into their mailbox, and they sometimes improperly forward sensitive work materials. This is partly the fault of our system which has a lot of pre-made mailing lists in a drop-own menu and people will pick the wrong one and not notice. The best one of these I have heard is when a City Council member was advocating against hiring a prominent local businessman for a high level administrative post because he was under relatively confidential criminal investigation. This Council member intended to send the email to the City Council list, but sent it to the City instead. So all 5,000 City employees received this confidential employment discussion. It made the papers, and the guy may have sued.

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It's not really about you, it's to cover the company's butt if the intended recipient finds out it got sent to someone else and comes after the company. No idea how that actually holds up legally, but just classic butt covering.

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I get them all the time - if it looks like something relatively important I send a friendly reply to let them know they are using the wrong email address for the intended recipient.

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I actually do respond and make a minimal effort if the email appears to be something of a sensitive and/or important nature. I view it more as common courtesy than complying with the law, but it is what it is. That being said, I really don't get too many sensitive items by mistake, so perhaps my view would change depending on excessive quantity, etc.

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Slightly off-topic, but this reminded me of a faxed message we received accidently so I have to tell the story.

My fax number at work is very similar to the one of a local court system, evidently. There was a high profile rape charge against a prominent athlete from this area, and some of the case documents were faxed to my number by his criminal defense attorney. When I realized what they were (and, no, I could not resist the urge to actually read them! Sorry!) I called his attorney's office to report that they needed to correct the fax number they were using and send the documents again. The attorney panicked and begged me to "fax the papers back to him" as they were confidential.

Doh!

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Most of the ones I get are from friends, emailing from their work accounts, about something completely non-company-related. So I'll get a "wanna do lunch Thursday?" request, with this scary disclaimer about how it's confidential, yadda yadda. I've gotten a few by mistake too.

My point is - it's their mistake. They don't have to take a "tone" with me and threaten me with legal action because of their mistake. If someone dropped a confidential document on the sidewalk, are they going to sue me if I run across it?

Kind of reminds me of the guy from Apple who left the prototype iPhone 4 in the bar, which was then found and leaked. His mistake.

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@belyndag: I used to get Faxes from a local Federal LEO office to a distant office that had the same number we did except the area code... Made a phone call one day to let them know their faxes weren't getting to the place they thought and that I was shredding them...

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@belyndag: "The attorney panicked and begged me to "fax the papers back to him" as they were confidential.""

I hope you asked them to fax you enough blank pages to make up for the paper they wasted.

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@samstag: I thought about it, but I felt so sorry for the poor guy that I just got my own here: http://blanksheetofpaper.com/

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Those disclaimers serve a single purpose: they prove that the company can't hire a competent lawyer. Or, they're just jumping on the bandwagon "in case".
(Google for "email disclaimers enforceable").

You can not unilaterally impose a restriction on someone (both parties have to agree for it to be an enforceable contract). If these stupid things actually did manage to force you to delete/report/not forward/etc. a message, then you could reply to it with a message demanding payment when the message is read. ("This message is intended for John Smith only. If you are not John and have received this message in error, please remit $500 for the copyright violation.)"

You do own copyright on anything you create, so you could say that your message is "Copyright (c) 2012 John Smith. Unauthorized copying or forwarding of this message is prohibited." That would at least have some basis in law. But the typical 50-line spew of noise? Unenforceable.