California IMDb Age Law Contested
By Mark Litwak
Entertain Attorney, LA
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. 
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. 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
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
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.
Litwak is a veteran entertainment attorney and producer’s rep based in Los
Angeles, California. He is an adjunct professor at USC Gould School of Law, and
the creator of the Entertainment Law Resources website with lots of free
information for filmmakers (www.marklitwak.com). 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 can
be reached at email@example.com