Just to give everyone an update on the footer / spammer issue, here is what is going to happen.
If you register today, you will have all of the same privileges as a regular member with the exception of one thing. You will not be allowed to have any links in your signature.
Once you reach 10 posts, that link restriction will be removed.
Hopefully, this actually works and does something to deter the spammers. I created a new test account and found myself unable to add a link to my signature.
In a few hours, I will try creating 10 posts and seeing whether the link ability is granted.