Freedom Of Speech Violated? Yellow Pages Sues City Of Seattle To Keep Giving Us Phonebooks We Don’t Use

Unfortunately, Jubbling does not have a staff attorney but even I might be able to defend the City of Seattle in this case. The folks behind the Yellow Pages – Dex Media West, SuperMedia LLC and the Yellow Pages Association – are suing the City of Seattle in US District Court to overturn an ordinance that would give consumers the right to opt-out of receiving the business Yellow Pages. You all know the Yellow Pages; it’s the big 500+ page book we get every 6 months that either goes right into a recycle bin or sits by your mailbox for 2 or 3 weeks and then goes in the recycle bin. According to a Seattle Times article, the city estimates the business Yellowpages represent 3 percent of the paper that households dispose of for recycling.

But the groups behind the Yellow Pages are fighting back; they’re using the angle that the ordinance violates their freedom of speech. They might have a case if the ordinance’s sponsor, City Councilman Mike O’Brien, made it “opt-in” for Yellow Pages instead of an opt-out.

The Yellow Page Association has a opt-out page on their website but it looks a little sketchy and guess who is holding the publishers responsible for honoring our requests? They are. The Seattle ordinance has the teeth to hold the Yellow Page publishers responsible with fines and delivery fees and that is what they are afraid of.

What can you do to get rid of unwanted phone books in your town? Probably a good first step is to download a draft of the Seattle Yellow Page Ordinance and read through it. If you agree with it, submit it to your local officials for consideration. More cities moving in this direction with more teeth might finally get the Yellow Page Association to finally act and actually stop distributing unwanted phone books.