Judge's ruling lets Seattle residents opt out of receiving yellow pages
A federal judge Monday refused to halt a new service that allows Seattle residents to opt out of receiving yellow pages.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A federal judge on Monday refused to halt a new service that allows Seattle residents to opt out of receiving yellow pages.
U.S. District Court Judge James L. Robart denied a preliminary injunction sought by yellow-pages publishers who say the Seattle ordinance violates their First Amendment rights.
The judge has yet to rule on the underlying lawsuit.
In his decision, Robart wrote that Dex Media West, SuperMedia LLC and the Yellow Pages Association (now known as the Local Search Association) failed to demonstrate the merits of their free-speech claims. The judge also said there was a competing public interest in wanting to reduce waste and prevent unwanted books from being deposited on private property. The two publishers and the industry association sued the city of Seattle in November after the City Council approved an ordinance that allows residents to opt out of yellow-pages deliveries.
The law imposes a 14-cent fee for every book delivered. The companies can also be fined up to $125 if they deliver books to someone who has used the city website, www.seattle.gov/stopphonebooks, to opt out at least 30 days before the scheduled delivery.
Since the city's launch of the website Thursday, 14,000 households and businesses have opted out of receiving 85,000 books, said Seattle Public Utilities spokesman Andy Ryan.
The city law is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation.
City Councilmember Mike O'Brien praised the ruling, saying that city residents were tired of getting directories they didn't want and the city was paying high costs to recycle them. He said 2 million yellow-pages books are recycled in Seattle each year at a cost of $350,000.
The yellow-pages publishers argued that their own voluntary opt-out site made the city law redundant and unnecessary.
"Singling out the Yellow Pages industry for discriminatory regulations and fees threatens not only our industry, but every other publisher the government decides to silence," said Neg Norton, president of the Local Search Association.
Lynn Thompson: 206-464-8305 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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