Last week, Bill Petrocelli, co-owner of Book Passage, filed a lawsuit challenging a new California law that imposes “onerous compliance obligations and potentially ruinous fines” for selling autographed books. Book Passage hosts about than 700 author book signings a year.
AB 1570 is an amendment to a 1992 law that required sports memorabilia dealers to document the authenticity of their autographed products. The amendment took the word “sports” out so the law now applies to autographed books and other memorabilia as well.
I read about this in the Marin I-J, and at the BAIPA meeting yesterday, asked if someone there might be willing to write up a story about this for our blog. After all, the room was full of authors.
Turns out that BAIPA member Marilyn Skinner Lanier was doing a book signing at Book Passage in San Francisco last Monday, and was interviewed as part of a video Petrocelli arranged to draw attention to the negative consequences of this law on bookstores. (She said her interview was not planned in advance — she just happened to have her reading at the right time, several days ahead of a May 11 press conference announcing the lawsuit, and Petrocelli asked her to be part of the video.)
Though the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Ling Ling Chang from Southern California, said the law was not intended to impact books autographed by authors at bookstores, she is not able to amend because she gave up her Assembly seat to make an unsuccessful run for state Senate.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court, claiming that the law violates free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment and violates equal protection as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.