Book Passage v. Becerra

Saving free speech one book at a time.

In the wake of a First Amendment challenge by Bay Area book seller Bill Petrocelli and his renowned store, Book Passage, California has rescinded the state’s onerous “certificate of authenticity” requirement for the sale of autographed books. The regulation would have made it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell signed books or host author events.

Under the former law, sellers of any autographed good worth over $5—including books—were required to provide a Certificate of Authenticity that included details about the transaction and the personal information about buyers and previous owners. Any omission, or failing to maintain the records for seven years, resulted in outrageous fines. Following PLF’s lawsuit, the legislature passed AB 228, which exempts books from the mandates.

What’s at stake?

By making it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell autographed booked or host author events, the autograph law is threatening free speech.

The law is both grossly over-and under-inclusive: it applies to even those books signed in the patron’s presence, yet it exempts those transactions where consumer vulnerability is at its highest.

Learn more about this Pacific Legal Foundation case by clicking here.

Photo: Pacific Legal Foundation