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Publishers File Suit in San Francisco to Challenge Yellow Pages Ordinance

Yesterday, we made the difficult decision to file suit against the City and County of San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Edwin Lee asking the U.S. District Court to overturn the city’s controversial new Yellow Pages ordinance, which effectively bans the distribution of Yellow Pages.

We are disappointed that we are left with no other alternative. The city’s rationale for restricting Yellow Pages is unconstitutional, in that it leaves no discernible limits to the government’s power to suppress the free distribution of information. By singling out Yellow Pages – while other sources produce 99 percent of paper waste – the ordinance is arbitrary and irrational.

Additionally, we believe the ordinance disenfranchises residents without Internet access – including lower income, seniors and ethnic communities – and those that simply prefer print directories to find vital local civic and business information.

This is not an action we take lightly. For years, we have worked to improve the San Francisco community by providing residents with important local civic and business information. We are disappointed that we now need to sue the city in order to provide our services to its residents and local businesses. That said, we believe there are limits to any city’s ability to control how we distribute community information, whether it is print or online.

Our industry firmly believes in consumer choice, and has developed a single, easy-to-use site to stop or limit delivery of directories at www.yellowpagesoptout.com.

Read our press release for more information on why we are moving forward with this suit in San Francisco.

3 Responses to “Publishers File Suit in San Francisco to Challenge Yellow Pages Ordinance”

  1. Mike Fedor says:

    San Francisco’s whole approach to have people opt-in is ass backwards…..Asking people who don’t use or have the internet, to utilize the same internet to ask for something they want is plainly not well thought out….Having internet users opt-out on the internet is a far superior approach…. So many people will be done a disservice with the system they propose……I went to SF’s visitor bureau site to tell them we would be cancelling all future trips because of this action and, ironically, that site tells user if they can’t find what they’re looking for on the site to reference the local yeloow pages…..Unbelievable !!!

  2. Dick Larkin says:

    I applaud the Local Search Association for taking this stand against such an unbalanced anti-business and unconstitutional approach.

    Could the industry do a better job of reducing over-delivery?

    Absolutely. And many steps have been undertaken to reduce excess delivery of directories.

    I’m disappointed in the anti-YP lobbing effort that is funded by WhitePages.com. Nearly every directory publisher had an online publishing agreement with them that helped them grow, and it strikes me as incredibly bad business to see them biting the hands and other body parts of the companies that helped them most.

  3. Neg Norton says:

    Thanks Dick. Agree we can and should do more with source reduction but even still, the industry produces 35% less paper than we did five short years ago and the trend line indicates we will be even less in a year or so. The sad thing about San Francisco, in my opinion, is that this entire issue has a lot to do with the political ambitions of the bill sponsor. They have put forth very little fact and a lot of anecdotal opinion. So I like our chances in the suit.

    As for WhitePages.com we have reached out to them on several occasions to point out the falsehoods on their site and they are uncooperative. Sad to see that they feel the need to behave that way.

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