Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

LSA Reaches Settlement with City of Seattle Over Phone Book Ordinance

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

I’m pleased to share that we recently reached an agreement with the City of Seattle to end litigation resulting from its discriminatory phone book ordinance. As we shared last October, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave a unanimous ruling in favor of free speech that protects all media, including Yellow Pages, from restrictions that hurt local businesses and consumers and cost taxpayer dollars. Now Yellow Pages companies can continue to offer their services without the challenges put in place by the City’s ordinance.

As an industry, we know it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. But we believe our industry’s consumer choice program, rather than local government-led initiatives, is the best approach to ensure consumers control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes and businesses. Consumers in Seattle and nationwide can visit www.YellowPagesOptOut.com to limit or stop delivery of directories. The straightforward, easy-to-use website is free, funded by Yellow Pages publishers rather than taxpayer dollars.

We look forward to working with the City of Seattle to increase visibility of www.YellowPagesOptOut.com among its residents and will honor opt-out requests previously submitted to the City’s former opt-out website.

We will also continue to help Seattle’s local businesses navigate the increasingly complex local media marketplace to give them their best possible return on investment and to provide residents with the ability to find those businesses wherever they search.

Ninth Circuit Denies City of Seattle’s Request to Stay its Mandate Overturning Yellow Pages Ordinance

Friday, January 25, 2013

In another favorable decision yesterday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously denied the City of Seattle’s request to stay – or delay – the Court’s mandate overturning the city’s phone book law while it seeks U.S. Supreme Court review. The mandate, which will be issued in the next few days, is the formal order from the Court that renders Seattle’s directory delivery ordinance void.

The City has until April 1 to seek review by the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court only grants approximately 1% of the appeal requests it receives.

We are pleased with the Court’s decision, which further supports its early ruling that print directories are fully protected speech under the First Amendment. This decision protects media from restrictions that hurt local businesses and consumers and unnecessarily cost taxpayer dollars.

Our national consumer choice program, rather than government mandates, is the best approach to ensure consumers can control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes. We believe it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. Our national opt-out website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com has been available since 2011 at no cost to taxpayers and without the use of government resources.

Ninth Circuit Denies City of Seattle’s Latest Motion, Finalizing Free Speech Protection for all Media

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Last week, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals once again ruled in favor of First Amendment protection in our case against the City of Seattle over its discriminatory phone book law. In a ruling filed on January 3, the Ninth Circuit denied the City of Seattle’s motion to revisit its earlier decision that directories, like all media, are fully protected speech under the Constitution. In doing so, the Court’s ruling is final and it effectively struck down Seattle’s discriminatory phone book law.

As you may recall, in October 2012, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled print Yellow Pages directories are fully protected speech and the City of Seattle’s discriminatory phone book ordinance was unconstitutional. However, in November 2012, the City of Seattle filed its petition requesting a full Ninth Circuit panel review of the decision.

The Ninth Circuit’s ruling is binding in all courts within the Ninth District, including San Francisco, unless Seattle files an appeal that is accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court and wins at that level. We are optimistic San Francisco’s even more restrictive Yellow Pages ordinance will be overturned.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision represents a decisive victory that protects all media from restrictions that hurt local businesses and consumers and unnecessarily cost taxpayers. The ruling is good news for residents who find value in free and easy access to community information, emergency information, and local business listings in print Yellow Pages. It is also a win for local businesses that depend on Yellow Pages advertising to attract new customers.

Our national consumer choice program, rather than government mandates, is the best approach to ensure consumers can control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes. We believe it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. Our national opt-out website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com has been available since 2011 at no cost to taxpayers and without the use of government resources.

NLC’s Congress of Cities and Exposition Kicks Off in Boston

Thursday, November 29, 2012

We’re on-site at the National League of Cities’ Congress of Cities and Exposition at the Boston Convention Center & Exposition Center this week, as more than 3,000 mayors, city managers, city council members, government staff and industry corporate partners gather to discuss, among other topics, ways for cities to build more sustainable communities.

Yesterday, Dex One’s Tim Foster, Yellowbook’s Matt Krug and YP’s Jim Troup set up Booth #1149 in the Sustainability Pavilion in the Exhibition Hall in preparation for the event, which officially begins today.

In the evening, Neg and I attended the NLC’s Board of Directors reception and dinner, where we had the opportunity to meet with a variety of attendees. Notably, Neg spoke with Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin about our industry’s desire to work with the City of Seattle to address its concerns about directory delivery and update them on positive developments when it comes to our sustainability and consumer choice initiatives.

At dinner, we had the chance to talk one-on-one with Melodee Colbert Kean, the recently elected mayor of Joplin, Missouri. Mayor Colbert Kean, who is the first African-American to be elected as mayor of Joplin, was a very engaging woman and told us stories about how her city was recovering from the devastating 2011 tornado. She discussed how one-third of the city was damaged or destroyed and that more than 160 lives were lost in the storm.

But Mayor Colbert Kean also emphasized how her city is emerging from the destruction with a new hope and vision. She said rebuilding is taking place with a master plan – including the construction of a vibrant city center – to make the city more attractive to new residents and businesses. As part of the rebuilding, the Mayor said she recognized the usefulness of phone directories in helping local businesses in Joplin attract new customers, in addition to providing residents with useful information to use in emergencies like a storm.

Mayor Colbert Kean did note that she believes some residents would prefer to opt-out of directory delivery. She was so encouraged to learn about our consumer choice website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com that she tweeted about it from the dinner table. The Mayor said she looks forward to gauging interest in the tool from her constituents and will report back to us.

A very exciting and productive kick-off to what we know will be a very productive week. Stay tuned for additional updates from the NLC conference!

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Unanimously Rules: Yellow Pages Directories are Fully Protected Speech

Monday, October 15, 2012

We are extremely pleased the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled Yellow Pages directories are “fully protected speech” under the First Amendment, striking down Seattle’s discriminatory phone book law. Today’s decision will protect all media, including Yellow Pages, from restrictions that hurt local businesses and consumers and cost taxpayer dollars.

The Court’s ruling is good news for residents who find value in the free and easy access to community information, emergency information, and local business listings that print Yellow Pages offer. It is also a win for local businesses that depend on Yellow Pages advertising to drive new customers into their doors.

We believe it doesn’t make sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. Our industry’s national consumer choice program, rather than local government-led initiatives, is the best approach to ensure consumers can control the delivery of Yellow Pages directories to their homes. Launched last year, our national opt-out website at www.YellowPagesOptOut.com is available at zero cost to taxpayers without the use of government resources.

In light of this decision, we are optimistic the District Court in San Francisco, also in the Ninth Circuit, will quickly overturn that City’s even more restrictive ordinance.

You can read the full Ninth Circuit decision here.

Update on Our Efforts to Protect Yellow Pages Delivery in Seattle and San Francisco

Friday, March 23, 2012

As many of you know, despite extensive work to demonstrate our commitment to consumer choice and sustainability, the Yellow Pages industry has been targeted in Seattle and San Francisco with government regulations restricting publishers’ ability to deliver directories to consumers.  We’re now at an important crossroads in both cases.

Seattle

In late 2010, the Local Search Association joined with Dex One and SuperMedia to file suit to overturn a new Seattle ordinance that restricts Yellow Pages publishers’ right to free speech. The ordinance unfairly singles out Yellow Pages with regulations and fees that are not imposed on other media, including license fees and advance recovery fees. The ordinance also ignores our industry’s national consumer choice website, www.YellowPagesOptOut.com, in favor of a new duplicative and unnecessary website launched by the City that does not protect residents’ privacy.

We are waiting for a decision that may come any day from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on an appeal we filed in response to the Seattle District Court’s decision upholding Seattle’s ordinance. The three-judge appeals court panel heard oral argument in Pasadena, Calif. on February 9. During the argument, the City of Seattle abandoned its claim that the ordinance protects the privacy of residents and the judges appeared skeptical of the City’s environmental claims about directories as well. The Court questioned both sides extensively on whether Yellow Pages could be treated differently from newspapers and other advertising-supported print media.

San Francisco

Last June, we made the decision to file suit against the City and County of San Francisco, the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Edwin Lee in an effort to overturn the city’s controversial new law, which effectively bans the distribution of Yellow Pages. The ordinance’s onerous opt-in requirements make the cost of publishing directories nearly impossible. In our suit, we emphasized how the ordinance limits our right to free speech and disenfranchises local businesses and residents without Internet access.

On March 7, the City of San Francisco filed a motion to stay all proceedings in the litigation challenging its ordinance until the Seattle case is decided by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, or October 15, 2012, whichever occurs first. During this period, the City has agreed not to enforce its ordinance. According to the City, a decision by the Court of Appeals in favor of our industry in Seattle will like “dispose of this case” as well. On March 9, the Local Search Association filed a response opposing the stay and urging quick action on our motion to immediately enjoin enforcement of the ordinance. We pointed out that federal courts are required to give priority to preliminary injunction motions and that the Local Search Association’s motion has been pending for almost six months. We also noted that the City now agrees that no harm will come from granting an injunction. We expect that the Court may rule on the City’s request in the coming days.

We look forward to what we hope will be favorable outcomes in both Seattle and San Francisco.  Our advertisers in these markets depend on Yellow Pages advertising to bring in business, and consumers rely on Yellow Pages to help them find and shop from local businesses.  While we wait for these decisions, it is difficult for us to continue to do our job of supporting local businesses and Yellow Pages employees’ jobs hang in the balance.

While these cases move forward, we will continue to work with local municipalities to illustrate how our industry-led consumer choice and sustainability programs achieve better outcomes than legislation that limits our ability to compete competitively and for local businesses to get found by consumers.

Courthouse News: ‘Court Takes a Shine to Yellow Pages Publishers’

Friday, July 22, 2011

As we’ve discussed on the blog, our industry is suing the City of Seattle over its recently-passed ordinance governing phone book distribution. Just last week, our lawyers argued in front of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals about why we believe the Seattle ordinance is flawed.

Courthouse News posted a comprehensive recap of the oral argument that’s worth reading. According to the article, the three-judge appellate panel asked some tough questions about the ordinance.

Click here to read the full recap.

Why the Yellow Pages Industry Is Suing the City of Seattle

Monday, July 11, 2011

In today’s edition of The Seattle Times, I author an Op-Ed explaining why the Yellow Pages industry is suing the City of Seattle over its recently-passed ordinance governing phone book distribution.

As I describe in the piece, our industry’s opposition to the Seattle law is not a protest against opt-out. We have always believed that it makes no sense to deliver a directory to someone who doesn’t want one. That’s why our members have long respected customer delivery requests, and why our industry collectively launched a nationwide clearinghouse, www.yellowpagesoptout.com, that makes it simple to stop delivery.

Our disagreement with the Seattle law centers on its newly launched opt-out website, which we believe is duplicative, confuses residents, and is funded by a discriminatory tax. We also believe the ordinance sets a dangerous precedent by unfairly singling out Yellow Pages and enabling government to decide the value of our publication compared to others.

I hope that my Op-Ed will help Seattle residents better understand why our industry is continuing the fight to overturn this ordinance.

Read my Op-Ed in The Seattle Times here. I’d also like to encourage our blog readers to post a comment on the website in support of our opposition to the ordinance.

Continuing the Fight Against Seattle’s Unnecessary Phone Book Law

Friday, July 1, 2011

Earlier this week, we learned that a U.S. District Court judge decided to uphold Seattle’s unnecessary phone book law.

As we’ve discussed here on the blog, Seattle Yellow Pages ordinance is marred by First Amendment and privacy concerns, duplication and inefficiency. We will appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which we hope will recognize these critical issues and take into account the numerous efforts our industry is already taking to address the Seattle government’s concerns.

The Yellow Pages industry worked together to launch an updated version of www.yellowpagesoptout.com, a national consumer choice website that ensures that consumers have an easy way to manage the delivery of phone books to their homes. Through the site, consumers across the country – including Seattle residents – can reduce the number of Yellow Pages and white pages directories they receive, or end delivery of directories altogether. As we’ve said repeatedly, it’s in our best interest to get directories into the hands of people who will use them, and not to those who don’t.

We believe Seattle’s decision to launch its own opt-out website does nothing but cause confusion for consumers and puts the City in the middle of an industry it doesn’t understand; particularly at a time when it has significantly greater problems to solve. While the City is touting the number of directory opt out requests it has received through the site, officials aren’t able to indicate whether requests through the site were new or duplicative requests from residents who have already opted-out through either Yellow Pages publishers’ sites or  www.yellowpagesoptout.com.

We appreciate the support of our members on this important fight and resolve to keep you informed as events progress.

Read our release for more information on our industry’s concerns with Seattle’s ordinance, and our ongoing efforts to improve the sustainability of our directories.

Setting the Record Straight in Seattle

Thursday, May 5, 2011

As we’ve discussed frequently here on the blog, the Local Search Association joined with ADP earlier this year to upgrade www.yellowpagesoptout.com, a nationwide opt-out website that ensures that consumers have an easy way to manage the delivery of phonebooks to their home.

Today in Seattle, the City Council announced the launch of its own government-run website, one that is an unnecessary duplication of our efforts, increases waste, and lacks the efficiencies and privacy guarantees that we worked so hard to incorporate into our site.

To put it bluntly, we think the site is a waste of government’s time and taxpayer’s money and puts the privacy of Seattle residents at risk. The best option for opting out of Yellow Pages directories both in Seattle and across the country continues to be www.yellowpagesoptout.com, which has  successfully processed thousands of opt-out requests since February.

Misinformation from the Seattle City Council also extends to statistics released by Seattle councilmember Mike O’Brien and Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) that greatly exaggerate the environmental impact of print directories. This data falsely implies that phone books create 100 pounds of unwanted paper each year per household. According to the city’s own estimates, Seattle recycles approximately 1,500 tons of phone books, or less than 2% of total recyclables each year – a far cry from the 17,500 tons claimed by SPU. In fact, through proactive industry efforts, the amount of directory paper in the market has declined by nearly 35% since 2007.

Read our press release for additional information on the  benefits of www.yellowpagesoptout.com, and our industry’s ongoing efforts to provide valuable and sustainable local search options.