Phone book publishers to fight new law

Jan. 17, 2011 at 7:28 PM
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SEATTLE, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The phone book industry is suing Seattle, saying the city's attempt to crack down on unwanted yellow pages violates the First Amendment.

The Seattle City Council passed an ordinance in October providing for people wishing to "opt out" of receiving yellow page phone books to put themselves on something similar to a telemarketer "no call" list.

In a motion filed in federal court before Judge James Robart last week, the Yellow Pages Association argued its products "are fully protected speech."

They are seeking to have the measure sponsored by City Councilman Mike O'Brien tossed out, saying the majority of data the books contain is not advertising but "emergency and community information," the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Monday.

O'Brien says the redundant publications are not environmentally friendly and downright burdensome for the city to dispose, costing Seattle about $350,000 a year.

The law says on April 1, publishers of yellow page directories will have to get an annual, $100 special license to do business in Seattle with the city's public utilities department establishing an "opt-out" directory for people and businesses who don't want to receive yellow pages available online, the Post-Intelligencer said.

Robart is scheduled to hear from the city and the yellow pages industry in early February.

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