Let's say that someone makes a computer virus. The only thing the virus does is email itself to random emails. Upon someone opening the virus, it is emailed from their computer to other random emails as well, thus making the virus spread.
Let's also say that the virus does not use the personal email of the infected user to spread itself, instead it uses emails provided in an online database that it has access to. The target emails it gets emailed to are randomly generated on the victim's end, and have nothing to do with his actual contacts.
This virus does nothing but spread. No payloads, no information stealing, nothing else.
Would that be classified as a virus, and the creator of it as a criminal? Would his punishments be as severe as the author of a harmful virus?