An internet-based provider of sexually explicit entertainment has agreed to pay a $465,000 civil penalty for sending unwanted email, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced.

The settlement with TJ Web Productions is the fifth such deal since the FTC announced a crackdown on sexually explicit email spam in July 2005, when the agency charged seven companies with violating a US law requiring warning labels on sexually explicit email. Sexually explicit emails sent by TJ Web affiliates have been "widely distributed" since May 2004, according to an FTC complaint.

Including the TJ Web settlement, the FTC has collected more than $1.6m in civil penalties from the five companies, the FTC said.

The FTC’s Adult Labelling Rule and the Can-Spam Act, passed by Congress in late 2003, require commercial emailers of sexually explicit material to use the phrase "sexually explicit" in the subject line, and to ensure that the initially viewable area of the message does not contain graphic sexual images. The rule and the law also require that unsolicited commercial emails give recipients a way to opt out of receiving future email and provide a postal address.

Under the proposed settlement, TJ Web is permanently prohibited from violating the FTC’s Adult Labelling Rule. The company also is permanently prohibited from violating the Can-Spam Act by initiating commercial email without clearly and conspicuously displaying a physical postal address without also including an opt-out mechanism.

TJ Web, based in Henderson, Nevada, did not send email directly to consumers, but it operated an affiliate marketing programme and paid others to send email on its behalf, the FTC said. TJ Web operates "dozens" of adult websites containing sexually explicit photographs and videos, according to the FTC complaint.