San Francisco Bay Guardian executive editor Tim Redmond has written a more detailed response to last week’s decision by a California Court of Appeals to uphold a $21 million judgment against SF Weekly.
Redmond says that the ruling was “consistent with the history of the Unfair Practices Act, which was written during California’s progressive era, when reformers were concerned about large businesses (particularly supermarket chains) driving local markets out of business.”
He argues further that in addition to benefiting small businesses, the law protects competition — and thus consumers — in the long term.
Meanwhile, Matt Welch at the libertarian magazine Reason bemoans the very existence of the Unfair Practices Act, and says that in this instance, the law is being used in an attempt to put one party out of business, which the law was ostensibly designed to prevent:
the application of it in such a way that’s clearly intended (much more than Mike Lacey’s chest beating) to drive a newspaper out of business (consider that the penalty is most likely several multiples of the SF Weekly‘s annual revenue, let alone profit).
[emphasis in original]
Village Voice Media has not made any public statements since the ruling.