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Law 101
 
California IMDb Age Law Contested By Mark Litwak Esq. Los Angeles
| Saturday, 07.08.2017, 07:20 PM |   (2253 views)

California IMDb Age Law Contested

By Mark Litwak Esq. Los Angeles

Actresses often complain about age discrimination in the movie business. Even relatively young actresses claim they have experienced discrimination. Olivia Wilde was reportedly denied the role of Leonardo DiCaprio’s wife in The Wolf of Wall Street when she was 28 years-old, ten years DiCaprio’s junior, with the role given to Margot Robbie who was only 23. [1]


It is not always easy to determine the age of an actor by their appearance at a time when plastic surgery is ubiquitous.  One frequently used source to determine an actor’s age is IMDb.com and its professional version, IMDb pro.com, which are widely used for casting in the entertainment industry. Consequently, many actors do not want to reveal their true age on their IMDb profiles because they believe it may put them at a competitive disadvantage.


In 2013, actress, Huong “Junie” Hoang, initiated a suit   against IMDb based on age discrimination in the case of Huong Hoang v. Amazon.com, Inc. [2]As an aspiring actress, Hoang had signed up for IMDbPro in 2001 but wanted to conceal her real age of 30 so she represented that she was 23. In September 2007, she decided that she no longer wanted the false birth date, and began contacting IMDb, asking that her birth date to be removed from her profile. IMDb informed her it would take measures to remedy any confirmable inaccuracies. She then sent IMDb a number of documents purporting to show her listed birth date was incorrect, including a fake Texas ID, but none of these documents satisfied IMDb, which refused to remove her date of birth from her profile page.


Last year SAG-AFTRA advocated the passage of AB 1687 which was part of effort to mitigate age discrimination in Hollywood by requiring subscription-based entertainment casting databases like IMDb to remove subscribers’ date of birth information upon request. The bill was also backed by the Teamsters, DGA, WGA-West, the Association of Talent Agents, and AARP of California. The law passed through both houses of the California Legislature with an overwhelming majority. The law took effect on January 1, 2017. AB 1687 permits anyone who pays for IMDb Pro to have a date of birth or age removed from an IMDb profile.


IMDb.com, which is part of Amazon.com, has contested the constitutionality of the law and has filed a lawsuit against the State of California in United States District Court for the Northern District of California (Case No. 16-cv-06535-VC) seeking to have a judge void the law. IMDb.com argues that this law does not prohibit the discriminatory use of information, but forces the removal of factual information from the public, which it says is unconstitutional censorship.  


The court found the government had identified a compelling goal – preventing age discrimination in Hollywood. But the government had not shown how the law was necessary to advance that goal. In other words, the court found that it was unclear how preventing one website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination. Consequently, on February 22, 2017 United States District Judge Vince Chhabria granted the request for the injunction which will stop enforcement of the law while the lawsuit is pending. 


 


Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney and producer’s rep based in Los Angeles, California. He is the author of six books including: Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, Contracts for the Film and Television Industry, and Risky Business: Financing and Distributing Independent Film. He is an adjunct professor at USC Gould School of Law and the creator of the Entertainment Law Resources (www.marklitwak.com). He can be reached at law2@marklitwak.com.  Mark will be teaching a one-day seminar titled Self Defense for Writing and Filmmakers with Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts on April 28, 2017 in New York City.  https://vlany.org/self-defense-for-writers-and-filmmakers-with-mark-litwak/


 


 




[1] http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/25-is-the-new-40-california-s-ab-1687-15211/

[2] Huong Hoang v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190477 * (W.D. Wash. Mar. 18, 2013)



 


Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney and producer’s rep based in Los Angeles, California. He is the author of six books including: Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, Contracts for the Film and Television Industry, and Risky Business: Financing and Distributing Independent Film. He is an adjunct professor at USC Gould School of Law and the creator of the Entertainment Law Resources (www.marklitwak.com). He can be reached at law2@marklitwak.com


 


 



 


 


 



 


About Mark Litwak: Mark Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney and producer’s rep based in Beverly Hills, California. He is the author of six books including: Reel Power: The Struggle for Influence and Success in the New Hollywood, Dealmaking in the Film and Television Industry, Contracts for the Film and Television Industry, and Risky Business: Financing and Distributing Independent Film. He is also the author of the CD-ROM program Showbiz Film& TV Contracts, and the creator of the Entertainment Law Resources website at www.marklitwak.com. He can be reached at law2@marklitwak.com


 


 


 


 



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