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Seattle Law Lets People Opt Out of Yellow Pages

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 19, 2011 12:46 PM

Yellow Pages! What are they good for?

Absolutely nothing!

Well, unless you count doorstops and booster seats. But even then, most people would jump at the chance to opt out of yellow pages deliveries.

Actually, if you live in Seattle, you can--and with the blessing of a federal judge to boot.

Late last year, Seattle's city council passed an ordinance that requires yellow pages and phonebook publishers to pay the city a 14 cent fee for every directory delivered, reports The Seattle Times.

It also imposed a $125 fine every time a publisher delivers a book to a person who has opted out on the city's website.

Afraid for their ad revenue and relevance, local publishers filed suit, alleging that the ordinance, and permitting residents to opt out of yellow pages deliveries, violated their First Amendment rights.

Last week, a federal judge denied the publishers' motion for a preliminary injunction that would have put a stop to the opt-out law until the case made it through trial.

The reason? He said that Seattle's interest in curbing wasteful practices, recouping hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual yellow pages recycling costs, and protecting residents' privacy justified the law.

The fines and fees were also designed to directly advance those interests.

What does this mean for you, my fellow yellow-pages-hating brethren?

Well, not much if you don't live in Seattle. But you should consider taking the issue, along with this story, to your next city council meeting, and then beg them to permit you to opt out of yellow pages on your doorstep.

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