The yellow pages industry yesterday filed a motion (.pdf) in U.S. District Court to overturn Seattle's phone book ordinance, which prohibits them from distributing yellow pages to those on a city-enforced opt-out list.
The motion for summary judgment is the next step in the lawsuit filed by yellow pages publishers last November, reaffirming their commitment to defeat the city's ordinance, which they claim is unconstitutional and unfairly targets them. Basically, they have no desire to back the fuck down.
Council Member Mike O'Brien, who sponsored the legislation, is out of town and couldn't be reached for comment immediately. But his office told The Stranger that the city will file a response to the motion in the next few weeks. In the meantime, the city continues to implement the ordinance. Seattle Public Utilities is currently reviewing proposals from vendors to build the opt-out system and hopes to have it up and running by late spring 2011.
Seattle's phone book legislation bans the distribution of yellow pages without a license and charges phone book publishers a fee for every phone book they distribute in the city to recover the cost of recycling them and pay for the opt-out system. Stuff the Seattle City Council thought would teach yellow pages publishers a lesson for ignoring people's requests to stop delivering these tomes at their doorsteps. Plus, no one really uses phone books anymore.
But the yellow pages industry cried foul. They argued that their speech is protected under the First Amendment. "The ordinance is going against the rights of the Yellow Pages Association," said Maggie Stonecipher of Dex One, the biggest phone book publisher in Seattle. "It's a violation of commercial and free speech. the First Amendment prohibits the government from favoring some publications over others."
Stonecipher adds that the YPA "fundamentally agrees with what the city is doing" (i.e. reducing junk) but it doesn't agree with the way they are going about it. YPA wants the city to abandon their opt-out website and instead go for YPA's national opt-out site which will be launched Feb. 1. This new site will let the public opt out of whatever yellow pages they don't won't.