October 17, 2012
This week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that print Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” under the First Amendment. The court’s decision is aimed at protecting Yellow Pages and other media from legislation that both hurts local businesses as well as spends tax revenues. This effectively strikes down Seattle’s proposed anti-Yellow Pages legislation that would restrict the delivery of print directories only to those who specifically request them.
Yesterday’s court ruling has ramifications that extend beyond Seattle. In April, the City of San Francisco, presently engaged in its own legal battle over restrictive Yellow Pages delivery legislation, agreed to post-pone any further action until the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the Seattle case. As the Seattle case was effectively struck down by a unanimous decision, an appeal to the court seems unlikely. It seems likely that the District Court in San Francisco, which also falls into the Ninth Judicial Circuit, will overturn the more prohibitive legislation initial proposed by the city’s Board of Supervisors.
The legislative efforts to restrict Yellow Pages delivery may be well-intended but ultimately they merely duplicate the industry-led efforts of YellowPagesOptOut.com. Local Search Association, in partnership with directory publishers, have established a one-stop site for consumers who do not wish to receive print Yellow Pages directories to opt-out of any/all books delivered in their area. The site is available at no cost to either the consumer or municipal governments. Earlier in 2012, several Washington State lawmakers came forward with their support of the website. Neg Norton, President of the Local Search Association, also weighed in on the viability of website.
“We believe it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. Our industry’s national consumer choice program, rather than local government-led initiatives, is the best approach to ensure consumers can control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes.”
To opt-out of delivery of unwanted phone directories, visit http://www.YellowPagesOptOut.com.