Last week, the LA Times produced two days of opinion articles about new legislation that it deemed “truly terrible” and “sloppy.”  What is this new law plaguing Californians and deserving so much ink in a major metropolitan paper? It’s common sense protections for consumers of signed collectibles – a market full of fraud. It affords the same protections that have for years applied to sports collectibles to now include historical and entertainment memorabilia.  It was endorsed by California Consumer Federation as well as the California Police Chiefs Association – not to mention Mark Hamill, Luke Skywalker himself.

And why is this new law worthy of such negative hyperbole from the LA Times editorial board? They claim it will impose new rules on some bookstores that happen to sell signed memorabilia, like those who have book-signing events.  But that’s not true.  The new law is narrowly tailored and states a dealer needs to be principally in the business of selling “signed collectibles.” Bookstores are principally in the business of selling, well, books. Even if they sell some that include signatures, it would not apply to them. I am an attorney, but you don’t need a law degree to see the obvious distinction.

And it’s not just me, the American Booksellers Association agrees (ABA represents bookstores!). After a number of bookstores were frightened by misinformation similar to that published by the LA Times, ABA wrote on their website “..ABA’s reading of the bill matched that of Assemblywoman Chang’s intent in drafting the law — that the law was meant specifically for the collectibles industry to stave off fraud..”  Furthermore, the author of the bill tells me she is seeking an opinion from the legislature’s attorneys, and thus far their informal take on it is the law does not apply to booksellers.

Also, where was the press when this “truly terrible” bill was moving through public committee hearings?  The LA Times reported on it – twice — but never bothered reporting on its so-called “sloppy” drafting.  Do their reporters read the bills they report on? So out of all the bills impacting businesses coming out of the state legislature, the LA Times editorial board chose to deride a bill they actually don’t understand?

Unfortunately, you can’t unring this bell and now many booksellers may be implementing new unnecessary regulations they do not need thanks to the LA Times misleading article.  The LA Times is hurting the very businesses they are pretending to stand up for in their opinion columns. That seems pretty sloppy and truly terrible to me.

Matthew Zandi is a former Assistant United States Attorney and currently in private practice in Los Angeles.