Requires that subscription expiration notices for magazines be clearly disclosed in a conspicuous manner.
BILL NUMBER: S7319A
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : The purpose of this bill is to provide increased consumer protections for magazine subscribers.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Section 335-a of the General Business Law requires publishers of magazines sold by subscription to disclose the month and year in which the subscription expires on any written communication inviting a subscriber to renew. This bill would strengthen these provisions by:
o requiring that the subscription expiration date disclosure, in addition to being clear and conspicuous, is understandable and readable;
o requiring that in instances in which a magazine subscription renewal offer is packaged with an issue of the magazine, the location on the mailing label of the subscription expiration date must be disclosed on the offer;
o requiring for-profit third-party magazine subscription solicitors to include a subscription expiration date disclosure in any renewal offer; and
o providing for a civil penalty of up to one hundred dollars for a single violation and up to five hundred dollars for multiple violations resulting from a single act or incident (up to five hundred dollars and one thousand dollars for knowing violations).
JUSTIFICATION : In recent years, the Committee on Consumer Affairs and protection has received complaints regarding magazine publishers' failure to disclose subscription expiration dates in written renewal offers, or to disclose such dates in a manner that is easily read and understood by the subscriber. This bill will ensure that subscribers are able to locate and read subscription expiration dates by providing that such disclosures shall be understandable and readable, as well as, "clear and conspicuous," as required under existing law.
This bill would also encourage compliance with existing law by providing for increased penalties and strengthen the law by stipulating that publishers who package renewal notices with an issue of a magazine must point subscribers to the expiration date disclosure on the mailing label on such notices. The bill would further protect consumers by extending the subscription expiration date disclosure requirement to for-profit third-party magazine subscription solicitors, including publication clearinghouses and their agents.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS : None.
EFFECTIVE DATE : One year after enactment.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7319--A IN SENATE March 29, 2010 ___________Introduced by Sen. PERALTA -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Consumer Protection -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the general business law, in relation to magazines sold by subscription THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 335-a of the general business law, as added by chapter 533 of the laws of 1977, subdivision 1 as amended by chapter 534 of the laws of 1977 and subdivision 2 as amended by chapter 204 of the laws of 2006, is amended to read as follows: S 335-a. Magazines sold by subscription. 1. Every publisher of a maga- zine sold by subscription shall disclose by a notice on the mailing label of each magazine mailed pursuant to subscription, the month and year in which the subscription expires. Such notice shall be printed or written in a clear
[and], conspicuous, UNDERSTANDABLE AND READABLE form. 2. Every publisher of a magazine sold by subscription shall, in any direct written communication to a subscriber inviting the subscriber to renew a subscription, clearly [and], conspicuously, UNDERSTANDABLY AND READABLY: a. disclose the month and year in which the subscription expires [, which may be included on the order card or on the renewal offer]; or b. include the month and year in which the subscription expires on the mailing label when the invitation to renew is packaged with an issue of the magazine, PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT THE LOCATION ON THE MAILING LABEL OF THE MONTH AND YEAR IN WHICH THE SUBSCRIPTION EXPIRES IS DISCLOSED IN A CLEAR, CONSPICUOUS, UNDERSTANDABLE AND READABLE MANNER ON SUCH INVITA- TION. 3. When a subscription is renewed, the renewal period shall not commence before the expiration of any current subscription or renewals. 4. ANY PERSON, FIRM, ASSOCIATION OR CORPORATION ENGAGED IN BUSINESS, THE PRINCIPAL PURPOSE OF WHICH IS TO REGULARLY SOLICIT MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION ORDERS FOR DELIVERY IN THIS STATE THROUGH THE MAIL FOREXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD02633-13-0 S. 7319--A 2
PROFIT SHALL, IN ANY DIRECT WRITTEN COMMUNICATION TO A MAGAZINE SUBSCRIBER INVITING THE SUBSCRIBER TO RENEW A SUBSCRIPTION, CLEARLY, CONSPICUOUSLY, UNDERSTANDABLY AND READABLY: A. DISCLOSE THE MONTH AND YEAR IN WHICH THE SUBSCRIPTION EXPIRES; OR B. INCLUDE THE MONTH AND YEAR IN WHICH THE SUBSCRIPTION EXPIRES ON THE MAILING LABEL WHEN THE INVITATION TO RENEW IS PACKAGED WITH AN ISSUE OF THE MAGAZINE, PROVIDED, HOWEVER, THAT THE LOCATION ON THE MAILING LABEL OF THE MONTH AND YEAR IN WHICH THE SUBSCRIPTION EXPIRES IS DISCLOSED IN A CLEAR, CONSPICUOUS, UNDERSTANDABLE AND READABLE MANNER ON SUCH INVITA- TION. NOTHING CONTAINED IN THIS SUBDIVISION SHALL BE CONSTRUED TO APPLY TO ANY DIRECT WRITTEN COMMUNICATION INVITING A CONSUMER TO ORDER OR RENEW ANY SUBSCRIPTION SOLD BY A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ENTITY, OR BY A CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION ONE HUNDRED SEVENTY-TWO OF THE EXECUTIVE LAW, OR AS PART OF A SCHOOL FUNDRAISER OR GIFT SUBSCRIPTION OFFER. 5. Whenever there shall be a violation of this section, an application may be made by the attorney general in the name of the people of the state of New York to a court or justice having jurisdiction to issue an injunction, and upon notice to the defendant of not less than five days, to enjoin and restrain the continuance of such violations; and if it shall appear to the satisfaction of the court or justice that the defendant has in fact, violated this section, an injunction may be issued by such court or justice, enjoining and restraining any further violation, without requiring proof that any person has, in fact, been injured or damaged thereby. In any such proceeding the court may make allowances to the attorney general as provided in section eighty-three hundred three of the civil practice law and rules, and direct restitu- tion. In connection with any such proposed application, the attorney general is authorized to take proof and make a determination of the relevant facts and to issue subpoenas in accordance with the civil prac- tice law and rules. WHENEVER THE COURT SHALL DETERMINE THAT A VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION HAS OCCURRED, THE COURT MAY IMPOSE A CIVIL PENALTY OF NOT MORE THAN ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A SINGLE VIOLATION AND NOT MORE THAN FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR MULTIPLE VIOLATIONS RESULTING FROM A SINGLE ACT OR INCIDENT. A KNOWING VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE PUNISHABLE BY A CIVIL PENALTY OF NOT MORE THAN FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS FOR A SINGLE VIOLATION AND NOT MORE THAN ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR MULTIPLE VIOLATIONS RESULTING FROM A SINGLE ACT OR INCIDENT. NO PERSON, FIRM, ASSOCIATION OR CORPO- RATION SHALL BE DEEMED TO HAVE VIOLATED THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION IF SUCH PERSON, FIRM, PARTNERSHIP, ASSOCIATION OR CORPORATION SHOWS, BY A PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE, THAT THE VIOLATION WAS NOT INTENTIONAL AND RESULTED FROM A BONA FIDE ERROR MADE NOTWITHSTANDING THE MAINTENANCE OF PROCEDURES REASONABLY ADOPTED TO AVOID SUCH ERROR. S 2. This act shall take effect one year after it shall have become a law.