IMDb Sues California to Invalidate Actor-Age Law

IMDb has sued the state of California to invalidate recently enacted legislation requiring subscription entertainment database sites to remove an actor’s age, if requested by the actor.

The suit alleges that the law is unconstitutional. It was filed on Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles and named California Attorney General Kamala Harris as the defendant.

The AB 1687 legislation, authored by Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier), was signed into law on Sept. 24 by Gov. Jerry Brown and affects the subscription site IMDb Pro.

“IMDb shares the worthy goal of preventing age discrimination,” attorney John C. Hueston said in the complaint. “But AB 1687 is an unconstitutional law that does not advance, much less achieve, that goal. To the contrary, rather than passing laws designed to address the root problem of age discrimination, the State of California has chosen to chill free speech and undermine public access to factual information.”

Hueston said in the complaint that IMDb opposes removing information that’s factual.

“IMDb routinely and gladly updates information on IMDb.com in order to correct verified inaccuracies,” he said. “But it has always been IMDb’s policy not to alter or delete any accurate, factual information on the public website. Being compelled to do so not only violates basic free speech principles, but undermines the accuracy and reliability of the IMDb.com database on which millions of users rely.”

On Friday, Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. released the following statement.

“Yesterday, IMDb made the regrettable decision to file a lawsuit attempting to invalidate California’s AB 1687 instead of making the straightforward and harmless choice to comply with the law. All the law requires is that IMDb give their subscribers the right to choose whether their personal date of birth information is published to people who will be deciding whether to employ them. Having repeatedly rejected SAG-AFTRA’s efforts to work collaboratively with IMDb to resolve these issues, IMDb has decided to ante up on its recalcitrance.

“IMDB is a for profit business endeavor, and it cynically attempts to misuse freedom of speech arguments to allow its own harmful behavior to continue.

IMDb is engaged in commercial speech and in a commercial transaction with its subscribers, and the State of California is well within its rights to regulate that transaction, especially when the abuse of that relationship has such devastating effects on California workers.

“IMDb argues that the law is both unconstitutionally narrow and simultaneously unconstitutionally broad. This reflects IMDb’s fundamental misunderstanding of how casting and employment work in the entertainment industry.

“SAG-AFTRA will fight alongside the California Attorney General to defend AB 1687 from this unwarranted litigation. We will continue to work to protect CA workers from misuse of their personal information online.”

SAG-AFTRA lobbied for the legislation with President Gabrielle Carteris, who has contended that she might not have been cast in “Beverly Hills 90210” as high school valedictorian and newspaper editor Andrea Zuckerman had her actual age been known at the time. “Beverly Hills 90210” aired from 1990 to 2000.

“Age discrimination is a major problem in our industry, and it must be addressed,” she said in a Sept. 16 post. “SAG-AFTRA has been working hard for years to stop the career damage caused by the publication of performers’ dates of birth on online subscription websites used for casting like IMDb.”

After the bill passed, Carteris thanked SAG-AFTRA members, California Federation of Labor President Art Pulaski, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Congressmen Ted Lieu and Brad Sherman, the  Teamsters, the Writers Guild of America West, the Association of Talent Agents, and the AARP of California for supporting the legislation.

IMDb is a subsidiary of Amazon.com. Harris was elected as a U.S. Senator from California on Tuesday, replacing the retiring Barbara Boxer.

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