Actress Loses IMDb Lawsuit Over Posting of Her Age

Actress Loses IMDb Lawsuit Over Posting

A federal jury in Seattle has rejected an actress’ claim that IMDb breached a contract with her by posting her age on the site and refusing to remove it at her request.

Junie Hoang had claimed that IMDb breached subscriber and privacy agreements by using information that she provided when subscribing to IMDbPro to discern her true age in public records. Her case drew the attention of the Screen Actors Guild and other orgs that have pressed IMDb to limit its posting of birthdates at a time when many performers face age discrimination.

Hoang, whose real name is Huong Hoang, first signed up for IMDb in 2001, but left her age blank. In 2004, she used a friend’s account to submit a 1978 date of birth, even though she was actually born in 1971. In 2007, she decided that she wanted the false birth date to be removed, and repeatedly contacted the database, asking that it be taken off her page. Yet even after she sent them documents, including a fake Texas ID, showing that the birth date was wrong, they did not remove the 1978 date from her profile.

In 2008, she sent IMDb an e-mail asking them to please “go back to your files and see if you have any documentation, verification or identification that my birthdate is in 1978.” After searching through their records, a customer service manager found her real name and used that to find her correct birth date in public records, and published it online.

The jury started deliberating on Wednesday.

IMDb.com argued that she had failed to prove that she was harmed by the posting of her true age, noting in a court filing on Wednesday that she “merely speculated” about lost acting income and “at best, Hoang contends that unrelated parties have refused to give her acting opportunities because IMDb exercised its First Amendment right to publish truthful and accurate information.”

Update: Hoang expressed disappointment in the verdict, and said that she will be making a decision soon on an appeal. But she does not regret pursuing the case. “When I filed this lawsuit, some people asked me, ‘Why go rattle a hornet’s nest?'” she said. “I saw an opportunity to make a difference, to make a change.” Although a lot of attention in the case has focused on issues of ageism in the industry, she also cited concerns about privacy and consumer protection. She noted that IMBd’s posting of birthdates continues to be an issue for the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America. “It is like the pink elephant in the room. Everyone knows it is there.”

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  1. Go ahead and bend over says:

    You are all the downfall of western civilization enjoy.

  2. PS says:

    Anybody can just use Wikipedia to find out their real age, especially if they’re well known.

  3. John says:

    Of course, if the age discrimination had landed her more jobs, like it did when she was in her 20s, she wouldn’t have complained.

    She, like all other women, especially actresses, have no problem with discrimination at all. They just have problems with discrimination when it doesn’t work in their favor.

    • Jebus Says says:

      It’s not about women, DS. Male performers are sensitive to these issues, too. And what you say about being OK with discrimination can be said for men in the areas of losing their Lion’s Share of privilege. Privilege is OK until a minority has it. Right?.
      (God, your masculine-insecurity HURTS THE BRAIN.)

  4. Joe Renzetti says:

    This case should been filed with the Attorney General’s office, as a civil liberties breach.

    Ageism is a form of discrimination. IMBd does not post the sexual preferences, the race, the political leanings, in the autobiography information, why should they post the age of person without their consent.

    A class action lawsuit would work. The problem is none of us in showbiz want to start one.

    JR

  5. Ryan says:

    Such a stupid lawsuit. Glad they dismissed it. And its just an elephant in the room. Not a pink one, unless every one is on drugs/drunk.

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  9. MYost says:

    Two things:(1) I’m sort of confused as to why she didn’t just leave the 1978 date on there. 7 years younger – big deal – and the wrong date. Good enough privacy (2) why is it legal for ANY website to publish your actual DOB without your permission when it can lead to identity theft? Perhaps if the jury members birth dates are published on a public website and they get to experience identity theft and age discrimination in their jobs, then maybe they’ll understand. Lame decision.

    • c0mment3r says:

      Birth records are public domain. You don’t need someone’s permission to post something that literally ANYONE could find with a little leg work. You also need more than a name and a birth date to steal someone’s identity.

  10. Dave says:

    As one who has been fighting age discrimination in Hollywood now — for over 20 years — I am certainly sympathetic.

  11. I’m an actress and I don’t have my age listed on my IMDB (InternetMovieDatabase), when I have a casting call or audition for a Movie or TV show etc. I’ll give my age to them then “when they ask me”.

    Sometimes if you go through a casting agent you have to give your age before you can go on an audition.

    If you want to get paid for being in the TV or Film that you did you have to give your date of birth to them anyway for payroll purpose.

    • MYost says:

      Yes, but they get that information AFTER you have the job. Not prior to the job. There is even a very famous case of producers trying to take a role back from a woman who was cast in a series (a series she created )- and when they found out she was 20 instead of 16.

      • Jon says:

        Okay, I see a bunch of actresses here and just have to say, doesn’t anyone see the problem in some of this story with the actress herself? She gave them a FAKE Texas ID. I know it’s a FELONY in my state to simply possess one! It seems like she gave THEM a false birthdate and wanted to take it back for some reason, but IMDB obviously can’t just keep changing birthdates every time an actress wants to change it to pretend to be younger or when they are backpedaling a previous lie….

      • Julie says:

        You should never have to give your real age to a CD before the job – nor to an agent in order to sign with him/her.

        Of course, because of child labor laws and producer considerations/costs because of those laws, you should consult with your union as to at what stage you have to prove you are over 18 (for example) in order to continue being auditioned or work on a production that is looking for “look under 18, but be over 18.”

        However, for those of us over 18 who are pursuing work that would NOT be deemed “to look under 18,” there is no reason to offer your real age to anyone. And no one should ask for it either. In some cases it is against the law for them to ask. In other cases it is simply unprofessional. This is a business that is based on 1) talent, 2) looks, 3) connections. Notice, age is not in that list. Nor should it be. Some people look older. Some people look younger. In the end, the “age look” is often a small piece of getting the job.

        But, as you go over 40 there is ageism in this business. If you don’t look over 40, depending on where you are in your career it can really set you back on opportunities if too many people know you are over 40. If someone says this isn’t true, then they have not worked enough in this business to know the reality.

        I’ve had two agents ask for my age. One, asked for it upon signing. I said it wasn’t necessary and that I was over 18. So I was given a SAG paper saying that I was over 18, among other things on that paper — and I signed that. Another established agent that I was interviewing wanted to know my real age in the interview — I tried to dance around that one, but she persisted until it got awkward. Suffice it to say I did not sign with that agent — it was simply rude and completely unnecessary especially since I clearly look over 30. I mean, what was the point of that?? Some things are just inexplicable in this business.

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