Winning Landmark battles
ADP is an important voice for online and print directory publishers. Time and again, the Association has influenced lawmakers on key issues such as access to listing information and prohibiting policies at the expense of independent publishers.
At the time of the break-up of the Bell System in the early ‘80s, the incumbent wireline companies attempted to maintain their monopoly on the local Yellow Pages markets by erecting barriers to new competition—particularly from emerging independent publishers.
After years of the phone companies’ attempts to thwart of competition, Great Western Directories, a Texas-based independent publisher, sued Southwestern Bell for antitrust violations after the phone company raised its listings price in an effort to force Great Western out of business.
A few years later in Kansas, another lawsuit was filed by Feist Publications, suing Rural Telephone Service Co. over its refusal to sell its listings to the independent publisher. Rural countersued for copyright infringement.
ADP took a leadership position in the court proceedings, filing an amicus brief, in support of the action. The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of Feist, holding that subscriber listing information was not copyrightable and therefore open to use by independent publishers.
Following that legislative victory, ADP petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to establish a rulemaking on the definition of “reasonable rates.” The Association’s leadership was again successful, with the FCC establishing presumptively reasonable rates of $.04 per base file listings and $.06 per updated listings.
The victory, in terms of savings on listings costs, has in fact “prepaid” the annual membership dues of all Publisher members forever. The Association will continue to monitor all public policy issues that arise.
Beginning in 1991, ADP led a five-year effort to have guarantees of access to listings at reasonable rates included in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Again our efforts were successful, resulting in the inclusion of such protections in section 222(e) of the Act.