I know this is an old thread but I noticed it and wanted to write: This is a good discussion and thank you for posting it. I don't think, however, that email makes a good example.
I am unfamiliar with case law on the topic but I believe that under US law once something is given to someone without an express contract, or understanding of quid pro quo, it is wholly owned by the recipient.
This happens with paper mail. If it didn't, I could sue an ex to return all love letters as they were my intellectual property. The ownership transfers. I know that email is probably still up in the air legally but I would argue that if I write an email to you, and we don't have an agreement on its status, I do not hold the copyright on it. You now own the content. If I have a personal letter from Ernest Hemingway, I can publish it in my own book of letters without fear from his estate attorneys.
So, while an interesting topic and I'd generally agree that the SSSCA sounds like it's riddled with problems, email may not be the best example.
update: make sure to read tilly's rebuttal. The copyright to the content stays with the author even if the physical letter (or the bits and headers, I s'pose) are owned by the recipient.
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