Free Speech

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
ageism, ages, california, free speech

Companies:
amazon, imdb



IMDb Sues The State Of California Over New 'Ageism' Law

from the eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind dept

As was expected, IMDb is suing the state of California over its new "ageism" law. The law has its genesis in actress Junie Hoang's lawsuit against the website, in which she claimed that the site's publication of her actual age caused her to be passed over by producers looking for younger women.

The law, which becomes effective January 1, applies to database sites that allow paid subscribers to post resumes, headshots or other information for prospective employers. Only a paying subscriber can make a removal or non-publication request. Although the legislation may be most critical for actors, it applies to all entertainment job categories.

Although the law will (theoretically) apply to other database sites, it's really just a continuation of actress Junie Hoang's failed legal battle against IMDb. The narrowly-written law only applies to sites with paying subscribers, but it does allow those subscribers to alter facts or remove them completely.

As such, it's still a potential First Amendment issue. This is why IMDb is seeking to have the law ruled unconstitutional.

"IMDb shares the worthy goal of preventing age discrimination," writes attorney John C. Hueston 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."

Even though the law supposedly affects other sites, it's pretty obvious the real target of the legislation is the website now suing the state. From the complaint [PDF]:

IMDb strongly opposes discrimination in all forms, including age discrimination in casting. But prejudice and bias, not truthful information, are the root causes of discrimination. This law unfairly targets IMDb.com (which appears to be the only public site impacted by the law) and forces IMDb to suppress factual information from public view. Moreover, the factual information being suppressed from IMDb is available from many other sources, not least including Wikipedia, Google, Microsoft (Bing), and Apple (Siri). As such, AB 1687 sets a dangerous and unconstitutional precedent for other general purpose websites and news sources, and should be deeply troubling to all who care about free speech.

It's California's "right to be forgotten as being as old as you actually are" statute. And it doesn't even address the actual problem. Making it illegal to post factual information is a terrible idea and one that will ultimately affect the ways facts are handled by data aggregators subject to this law.

But like Hoang's lawsuit, the law makes no attempt to target those actually engaging in the alleged ageism: movie and television studios. Instead, it targets those who gather information about actors and actresses, as if vanishing away simple facts will change the discriminatory hiring practices engaged in by some of California's largest companies.

Adding further problems is the law's attempt to regulate a website that isn't even located in the state.

Notably, AB 1687 contains no territorial limitations at all. It purports to impose financial penalties on IMDb, a Delaware corporation with its offices in Seattle, if it refuses to censor itself when, for example, a California actor requests the removal of his age from IMDb.com after it is added by an IMDb.com user in Germany.

Making things even more stupid is the Screen Actors Guild's heavy lobbying for the IMDb-targeting law. A union with the combined power of thousands of actors should be able to take on the studios directly, rather than cozying up to lawmakers to carve out First Amendment protections for their dates of birth. That suggests one of two things: the SAG finds legislators easier to push around, or the SAG doesn't want to bite the hand that feeds it roles. Either way, targeting IMDb does nothing to further the Guild's supposed battle against ageism.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Nov 2016 @ 3:55pm

    We want to live in an America where a 70 yr old can be cast as Ghetto Girl 3, because everyone will believe the actress with the walker is a street smart girlfriend of the thug the demonic gingerbread man kills 4th.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Oninoshiko (profile), 11 Nov 2016 @ 4:09pm

      Re:

      Oh the spoofs you could film... I'd atleast like to see some shorts spoofing this law. Lolita with the title character played by a 80-yr old man.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 12 Nov 2016 @ 2:52pm

      Re:

      No, not really. We want to live in an America where a 32-year-old can be cast as a 50-year old character; and the director doesn't prefer a 24-year old for the role because the 32-yaar-old is..."past her prime" I believe is the usual excuse.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2016 @ 4:53pm

      Re:

      We should start a movie where Hillary Clinton is on a wheelchair, 100 years old, still running for president holding up a vote for Hillary sign.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 4:21pm

    Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

    Here's the problem - IMDB doesn't do anything to verify the age. They don't check birth records. They might subscribe to one of those half-assed Big Data background databases, but that's no good for people using stage names.

    So go ahead, let them publish an age, but impose severe mandatory penalties for getting it wrong. Let them avoid those penalties if they make it easy for the performer to exercise control - either no age at all or whatever age the performer wants published.

    That should fix the problem - it won't be worth the price of pulling birth certificates for everybody in their database, so imdb will 'voluntarily' choose to give people the control they want.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 5:05pm

      Re: Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

      Misstating someone's age is not libel.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 8:00pm

        Re: Re: Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

        It is when it negatively impacts their ability to work.
        If nothing else, tortious interference.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 9:01pm

          Re: Re: Re: Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

          > It is when it negatively impacts their ability to work.

          Uh, no, as much as you might like to pretend otherwise, it isn't.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2016 @ 6:04am

          Re: Re: Re: Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

          1. while i *MIGHT* concede it affects an actors ability to get CERTAIN roles (which then begs the question of ACTUAL ageism in hollyweird! ), that applies to most EVERYONE in the job market, NOT just precious snowflake actors...
          2. thus, why actors need special dispensation over EVERYONE ELSE, is not clear...
          3. aren't they all going to be CGI soon ? ? ?
          i will say one thing about 'actors': i PREFER to -generally- see a movie that has 'unknown' (at least to me) actors, since their celebutard baggage doesn't get in the way of the role they are playing...
          there are enough competent actors (a low bar at that), that i don't seek out a movie BECAUSE so-and-so is starring in it; i seek out movies because of the story, i generally don't give a shit about who the actors are...
          (oh, except only negatively: IF there are actors -very few i can think of- who are so incompetent or typecast that i will NOT see a movie because they are in it... steven seagal (sp?) comes to mind...)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 13 Nov 2016 @ 11:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

          "It is when it negatively impacts their ability to work"

          If true, then surely the issue is that casting agents are using IMDB rather than the applicant's own resume, SAG records or other method of obtaining a factual and verified account? The solution isn't to attack a 3rd party website for not also being a detective agency.

          Also, it should be discussed that the biggest issue IMDB have been attacked for on this issue is getting the age *correct* - that is, actresses fearing they are being turned down for parts because the accuracy of information meant they couldn't pretend to be young enough for the casting agent to cast them in a younger role.

          As usual, address the real target, don't place impossible demands on a convenient scapegoat.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 15 Nov 2016 @ 5:48am

          Re: Re: Re: Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

          The publishing of the age is not the problem, it's the discriminatory hiring practices of the casting directors and agents. Deal with that.

          Seriously, if it really is the problem that you think it is, go out there and talk to those people. Explain how wrong and hurtful it is and appeal to them to reconsider their position on age.

          Anyone who wants to solve a problem needs to identify what it actually is. RE: ageism from employers of any kind, the problem is there, not on websites that publish your age.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous, 12 Nov 2016 @ 6:12am

      Re: Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

      In point of fact, most birth dates are verified by birth certificates and registries available in public databases.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Wyrm (profile), 13 Nov 2016 @ 9:26pm

      Re: Truth is the Ultimate Defense Against Liable

      or whatever age the performer wants published.

      That's a great idea. Fix a mistake with a legally enforced lie.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Retsibsi (profile), 11 Nov 2016 @ 4:23pm

    "a removal or non-publication request"? Doesn't that mean not publishing the actor's / actress's age at all? If so I can see someone's chance of work drying up at great speed....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    sehlat (profile), 11 Nov 2016 @ 4:23pm

    Clint Eastwood put it best.

    He said that he wouldn't do any more Dirty Harry movies because would anybody believe Harry would be able to chase the bad guys with his walker?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 4:56pm

    If it passes, and IMDb gets a complaint...

    Simply remove all reference to the actor from the site...problem solved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    IMDBmustWinThisForAllofUs, 11 Nov 2016 @ 5:30pm

    New DCMA variant focused on information, be very afraid!

    Her lawyers fought to censor information, on a public figure.

    If the actor fulfills their intent, then in reality her lawyers will have created a variant of DCMA take down directed at public information, not created content or derivative works.

    This is frightening on so many levels...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 6:06pm

    Let me get this straight. According to IMDB: IMDb strongly opposes discrimination in all forms, including age discrimination in casting. But prejudice and bias, not truthful information, are the root causes of discrimination.

    They seriously said that with a straight face? IMDB opposes discrimination yet by posting the age of Junie Hoang, IMDB facilitated in discrimination against this actress for roles she was angling for.

    WTF?

    Does IMDB even read the bullshit that they are posting or arguing against a law they think is unconstitutional? IMDB is simply going to lose this fight.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Kal Zekdor (profile), 11 Nov 2016 @ 6:25pm

      Re:

      Why don't you blame the ISP used to access the information while you're at it, or the manufacturer of the device used, or hell, blame Pope Gregory XIII for the calendar being used to mark age, because that makes exactly as much sense as what you just said.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 6:48pm

      Re:

      And this would be why we have a reasonably strict freedom of speech enshrined in the US justice system... Just for bone headed, illogical, and ill conceived responses like this one.

      It's IMdb's fault because they posted someone's age???

      What utter bullshit.

      I'm having a hard time you even WROTE this with a straight face. Did you even think about this bullshit that you wrote before posting it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 8:09pm

        Re: Re:

        You miss the point, really badly missed it.

        OP is saying that IMDB is being hypocritical. They want to have their cake and eat it too - by saying they oppose discrimination but are then happy to enable it because free speech they are demonstrating by their actions that they are really perfectly fine with discrimination.

        If they want to say they are neutral and that shit happens, well that would be coherent. But once they claimed the moral high ground they opened themselves up to criticism for not acting in accordance with their own words. Its not about the law, its about their choices.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 9:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          IMDb did not engage in or encourage the discrimination. To claim that they are somehow complicit in it is very dishonest.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2016 @ 10:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            IOW, you seem to be saying that IMDb is completely ignorant of one of the entertainment industry's dirty little secrets...when one, typically a woman, attains a certain age their opportunity for roles becomes considerably diminished. This would be a strange position since IMDb is well versed in what happens within the industry.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 12 Nov 2016 @ 6:28pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              It's not IMDb's fault if the studios discriminate against people past a certain age, so if you want to deal with that discrimination the correct group to go after is not the site, it's the studios.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2016 @ 4:38am

      Re:

      The guilty of discrimination is on the people who are doing it in the first place not those who inform about its victims. Just because a serial killer targets 33 year old blondes doesn't mean that a dating site is at fault for allowing searches of such.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Coyne Tibbets (profile), 12 Nov 2016 @ 8:41pm

      Re:

      So, according to you, IMDB could completely end age discrimination in Hollywood by simply posting every actress' age as 24?

      What utter idiocy. IMDB could not "un-facilitate" ageism by falsifying ages, any more than not publishing the ages would "un-facilitate" ageism.

      If they can't "un-facilitate" then they are not facilitating. Simple as that.

      I really wish some people would stop wanting to convict everyone who can possibly be construed as involved...that is, everyone except the person who actually "aimed and pulled the trigger."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 3:49am

      Re:

      So what you're saying is that if a black student is mistreated by his racist teacher, it's the fault of the school for keeping records that stored his racial information.

      Genius move, there...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Niall (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 5:34am

        Re: Re:

        Because no-one at all could tell that the student was black and not Oriental or white, amirite?

        You might as well tell IMDB that it can't post pictures of actors because someone might know they are blacker than Morticia Addams and not get work due to a third party's racism.

        Go after the perps, not public facts.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John, 17 Nov 2016 @ 9:21pm

      Re:

      Umm.. makes total sense?

      They're arguing that hiding the fact that someone is black is not the right way to prevent a klansman from being a rascist prick.

      The right way is to deal with the rascist cocksplat himself.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Adaline (profile), 11 Nov 2016 @ 7:10pm

    Just like a matter of "artists not getting paid", Hollywood would rather lobby for a law that restricts everyone else (even though pretty minimally in this case) rather than fix the wrongs deeply embedded in its culture.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 8:22pm

    The rest of the country should petition for California's slogan to be changed to The Entitled State.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 10:12pm

      Re:

      I'm kind of hoping the California secession movement succeeds. The rest of us would be rid, in one swell foop, of some of the whiniest shits in the country, most of the copyright abusers, a solid chunk of illegal aliens, many of our gun-ban desiring morons, basically most of the bad parts of the left.

      Now to decide on a red state to get rid of...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 8:49pm

    Hah... just point them to Wikipedia where they'll cheerfully print the person's age if there's a good source for it. And it's free fir everyone to use so it's not affected by this law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 9:09pm

    "...applies to all entertainment job categories."

    So what makes *them* such special snowflakes?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Nov 2016 @ 10:51pm

    Two words, Alzheimer's Dementia. Two more words, Rotten Tomatoes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kick out the mexicans, 12 Nov 2016 @ 5:41am

    califonria cant succeed from the usa

    the hells angels control the north half

    and a war would ensue and it would become a 3rd world country due to the drought which is worse in the south

    its kinda like how we in canada know quebec wont leave cause if they do they 100% screw themselves and they all know it.

    ONE way or other your all going to have to remove those illegal and if you think Trump was full of crap , look up the GANGLAND video on mexian maffia
    and how many it has in southern california

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Carl (profile), 12 Nov 2016 @ 6:14am

    Not about IMDB. Broadly about privacy vs. free-speech. Good case. Will watch with interest. This is the kind of case that could trickle up to the high court. And if Trump packs the court with red, you can kiss your privacy goodbye, sold out to the highest corporate bidder.

    Trump voters bought a little security, and sold their soul.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Scote, 12 Nov 2016 @ 10:39am

      Trump and torts

      "And if Trump packs the court with red, you can kiss your privacy goodbye, sold out to the highest corporate bidder. "

      While Trump may seek to spy on people, he's also a big fan of broad defamation law. I think Trump would support a law that prevents true information about an individual from being disseminated if the subject is against anyone knowing it. Of course, he's also for defaming people. So, who knows.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Niall (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 5:37am

      Re:

      An actor is a public figure and certain facts about them are hardly secret, especially if available in other public and publicly accessible records. So expectation of privacy may be limited in those cases.

      Her age may not and should not be relevant to most cases, but it's a matter of public record - her shoe size isn't.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Scote, 12 Nov 2016 @ 10:24am

    "A union with the combined power of thousands of actors should be able to take on the studios directly, "

    Really? Even the multi-billion dollar *tech industry* has problems taking on the economically smaller movie industry. The influence of the MPAA far outstrips its size.

    While I disagree with this new, poorly drafted bill, it is not credible to presume that the actor's union has the power to end ageism in hollywood by mere direct action.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2016 @ 11:39am

    What do those actors and actresses have to hide? Are they fucking terrorists?

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Nov 2016 @ 2:51pm

    Fraud

    So, some actors want to commit fraud by lying to potential employers about their real age. Furthermore, they want IMDb to assist in their fraud. IMDb was unwilling to do so, so the state of California is trying to make them. Because actors are such special snowflakes.

    Yeah. Sounds about right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Josh Taylor, 12 Nov 2016 @ 3:09pm

    IMDB defends child sex predators. Boycott them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Eldakka (profile), 13 Nov 2016 @ 7:32am

    is the Screen Actors Guild's heavy lobbying

    I thought it was Film Actors Guild (at least according to Team America).

    ;)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    I.T. Guy, 14 Nov 2016 @ 8:10am

    She looks good for 54.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Feb 2017 @ 6:42pm

    IMDb is shutting down their message boards!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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