Tag Archives: Yellow Pages opt-out

Judgment Day for City of Seattle Opt-out Folly

Since the start of its October, 2010 efforts to implement a required opt-out program, despite the industry’s already established program, we have criticized the elected leaders of the city of Seattle –

  • November, 2010“ …this really isn’t an environmental move by the City of Seattle. Instead, it has become a clear attempt at cost shift and a political stepping stone for some Council members…”
  • July, 2011: “ …Lost in Seattle: Hello. Print Yellow Pages Aren’t Your Problem..”
  • August, 2011“Seattle Green Efforts Come Up Way Short”
  • October, 2012“..Take that Seattle. In a decision, which has been expected for some time, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released a unanimous decision today which holds that under the First Amendment, Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” and not “commercial speech.” The appeals court determined that print directories are entitled to the same standards under the First Amendment as newspapers, magazines, etc. Needless to say, this is a major win for the industry..”

Despite the obvious stupidity of this effort, the leaders keep on pushing this needless waste of taxpayer funds.  We’ll now The Seattle Times reports that the city has tentatively agreed to pay $500,000 to yellow-pages phone directory publishers in a settlement, rather than continuing the fight to appeal a ruling that the city violated the publishers’ free-speech rights,

Initially, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the city’s position.  But a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit, generally a very left-leaning court, sided with the yellow-pages publishers, ruling that the phone books are protected, like other publications, by the First Amendment.

The Local Search Association has repeatedly fought that the city opt-out registry wasn’t necessary because the publishers and Association had their own fully functional opt-out systems. But, city leaders lead by City Councilmember Mike O’Brien insisted on forging ahead with an opt-out registry for “unwanted phone books” and charged a $100 fee on each of the three companies that distribute phone books in the city. It also charged the companies for every book delivered, levied a fine of $125 for deliveries to households that had opted out.  And, to add insult to injury, the law required the publishers to advertise the city’s opt-out service on the cover of the yellow pages.

A suit then filed by Local Search Association, the Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in October that phone directories are protected by the First Amendment and that Seattle’s law regulating distribution of the yellow-pages directories was unconstitutional.

Now judgment day has arrived for the city as they will now need to pay $500,000 of taxpayer money to the industry.  City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, still refuses to admit the futility of this effort and said he couldn’t comment on negotiations to settle the lawsuit because they were still ongoing. He said the settlement agreement could also decide “the future of Seattle’s yellow-pages opt-out system.”  Gee, you think so?

As you would expect some of the city’s finest are reacting online.  Here is one of the few blog comments I could print:  “..let’s SUE and FINE Yellow Pages for LITTERING. Shoot them on site for trespassing…”.  So much for the civility these same people preach to us about.

As we noted in October, 2010:

“…What a shame. It didn’t have to be this way. A working process was already up and running. But that wasn’t enough for the greenies. Someone in big business had to be punished no matter the costs or the impact to taxpayers…”

My only question is whether City Councilmember Mike O’Brien and the other 7 elected officials who voted for this effort (only one Councilmember voted against the ordinance) will now be held responsible for reaping the taxpayers.  Somehow, I doubt it.

9th Circuit Strikes Down Seattle Yellow Page Opt-Out Ordinance

Take that Seattle.  In a decision, which has been expected for some time, the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released a unanimous decision today which holds that under the First Amendment, Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” and not “commercial speech.”  The appeals court determined that print directories are entitled to the same standards under the First Amendment as newspapers, magazines, etc. Needless to say, this is a major win for the industry.

We noted back in August 2011 that Seattle’s effort to force a city run opt-out program and recycling fees on yellow page publishers was both legally questionable and irresponsible especially since the industry had already initiated an opt-out program and website.  To compound matters, the city then sent out 280,000 post cards (or 4 TONS OF PAPER) to inform residents of this effort, none of which is believed to have been recycled.

The Local Search Association, which has fought a long, hard, expensive battle on behalf of its members is “extremely pleased to announce that a full victory has been achieved by our Industry”, and will now move quickly to bring this appeals court decision to the attention of the San Francisco U.S. District Court (which is also within the jurisdiction of the 9th Circuit) to vacate their opt-out program.

The Association believes the City of Seattle now has only two options:

  • The  City could seek a rehearing before the 9th Circuit U.S. Court      of Appeals.  However, in cases such as this where there is a unanimous decision, a rehearing is rare.
  • The City of Seattle could seek a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

I think a third option would be for the city to apologize to the industry and all of their tax-paying residents for all of this nonsense and start working with the industry on ways to improve recycling rates.  But that probably won’t happen as several of the city leaders that championed this effort clearly have higher political office in mind.

Congratulations to the Local Search Association staff, and especially, Dex One and SuperMedia for fighting the war that needed to be fought….


Yellow Page Publishers Vow to Continue Fight Againist Seattle Required Opt-Out Law

The Local Search Association released this comment after a local judge again denied the industry relief from the recently passed required opt-out law in Seattle.  The release highlights a number of soild reasons why this law will ultimatley be struck down:

Yellow Pages Publishers
to Fight Court Decision Upholding Unnecessary Phone Book Law

Official Industry
Opt-out Site at http://www.YellowPagesOptOut.com Remains Most Sustainable

Approach; No-cost for
Cities, No Burden for Taxpayers and Privacy Guaranteed for


SEATTLE – June 29, 2011 – Yellow Pages publishers expressed
disappointment today over the decision by a U.S. District Court judge to uphold
Seattle’s unnecessary phone book law, which is marred by First Amendment and
privacy concerns, duplication, waste, and inefficiency. Publishers plan to
appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Court failed to honor the First Amendment rights of directory publishers and the citizens of Seattle.  The Yellow Pages industry is committed to consumer choice, which is why we launched http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com earlier this year. The route the City of Seattle
has chosen to take is completely unnecessary,” said Neg Norton, president,
Local Search Association. “Seattle taxpayers should be outraged that the City
continues to waste its resources on a system that is unnecessary and, we
believe, illegal.”

Privacy Concerns with Duplicative, City-run System

The industry’s national site, www.yellowpagesoptout.com, offers consumers a number of advantages including privacy protections that Seattle’s site does not provide, an easy to use interface, and the ability to stop delivery of both Yellow Pages and white pages phone books.  Information collected through www.yellowpagesoptout.com will only be shared with publishers for the purpose of customizing their directory delivery records and will not be sold to third parties or used by city governments or their website vendors for marketing purposes. The City has made no such assurances for its opt-out program or website.

“The City is touting the number of opt-out requests it has received though its new website, but isn’t able to indicate whether those stop or reduce-delivery requests were new or duplicate requests from residents who have already opted-out through www.yellowpagesoptout.com or individual publishers’ sites. The industry launched the site to make it simpler for consumers anywhere in the country to stop delivery. A patchwork of duplicative municipal sites does nothing except make things confusing and expensive. It’s hard to understand why the City of Seattle continues to waste its resources defending an unnecessary system when they claim to have consumers’ interest in mind,” said Larry Angove, president and CEO, Association of Directory Publishers.

One National Site is the Sustainable Approach

The industry’s existing site is the most sustainable approach. The benefits include:

  • Protected personal information: Information collected through http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com is used only to allow consumers to customize their directory delivery choices and will not be sold to third parties — the City has made no such assurances.
  • No burden to cities, taxpayers, or city government staff: Industry assumes all costs associated with development, maintenance and promotion of http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com.
  • Greater awareness: One official site will result in greater awareness for consumers across the country.
  • Integration with publishers’ technology systems: http://www.yellowpagesoptout.com works seamlessly with the publishers’ systems; no third-party vendor has the same level of existing    knowledge.
  • Library of directory covers make it easier for residents to identify the directories they wish to keep or stop.

Providing Valuable & Sustainable Local Search Options

This year the Local Search Association issued its second annual sustainability report, which for the first time reflects the internationally recognized Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) framework. Key highlights from the 2011 report include:

  • Directory paper use decreased an additional 8.1 percent in 2010, totaling nearly 35 percent in paper reduction since 2007.
  • The percentage of directories recycled increased to 36.9 percent according to the latest Environmental Protection Agency data. This figure is up from 21.4 percent in last year’s report.
  • A comprehensive website at www.yellowpagesoptout.com that makes it easy to choose to reduce or stop directory delivery.
  • Telephone directories continue to only represent 0.3 percent of the solid waste stream, significantly less than newspapers (3.2 percent) and office paper (2.2 percent).
  • An array of strategic partnerships focused on environmental, economic and social performance.

Local Search Association has also formed a Sustainability Committee to continue developing sustainable business practices that make sense for their stakeholders, as well as to establish new benchmarks for the industry.

To read the full Local Search Association 2011 Sustainability Report, please visit: www.localsearchassociation.org