Thursday, June 30, 2011

Phone book lawsuit dismissed

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2011 at 9:06 AM

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A federal judge dismissed Dex One’s lawsuit against the City of Seattle’s Yellow Pages opt-out service, ruling that it does not violate the First Amendment, as several phone book companies argued.

“The route the City of Seattle has chosen to take is completely unnecessary,” Local Search Association President Neg Norton wrote in a statement Wednesday. “Seattle taxpayers should be outraged that the City continues to waste its resources on a system that is unnecessary and, we believe, illegal.”

The lawsuit was filed in May when Seattle launched its Stop Phone Books website. Phone book companies argued that directories provide community and political information in addition to ads and commercial information, comparing yellow pages to newspapers. The Inlander earlier looked into the growing controversy of phone books ("Paper Cuts," March 31, 2010).

The phone book companies argue that the city’s website will not protect privacy as well as their commercial site, www.yellowpagesoptout.com.

“We believe that the city’s redundant site is not necessary and is unfairly leading residents to believe it has spent the government’s time and the taxpayer’s money on something new…” says Norton in a statement.

But in his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge James Robart said that phone books are commercial speech, which has less protection under the Constitution.

The ruling comes shortly after state Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, announced he would introduce a bill to take the opt-out registry statewide in 2012.

According to a statement, publishers intend to appeal the decision to the U.S. Court Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco.

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