B-movie actress loses case against IMDB over revealing her age
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Friday 12 April 2013
A 41-year-old B-movie actress has lost her legal battle with the Internet Movie Database, which she claimed cost her acting work after it published her true age against her will.
IMDb.com lists the details of around 4m film and TV professionals, and is used regularly by Hollywood casting agents.
When Huong Hoang, who goes by the stage name Junie Hoang, first added her profile to the site, she listed her birth year as 1978, arguing that she usually plays characters younger than herself.
In 2008, however, as she approached her bogus 30th birthday, she signed up for the subscription version of the site, IMDb Pro, and decided she would rather no birthdate was recorded at all. She contacted IMDb to have it removed, but was shocked to learn that someone had added her true age to her profile. The site, she alleged, had taken information gleaned from the credit card she used to pay her subscription, “to scour public records databases and other sources” for her date of birth.
Ms Huang said the use of her personal data constituted a breach of contract, and that IMDb and its parent company, Amazon, were liable for her loss of income after casting directors discovered that she was older than she appeared. She first filed suit anonymously in 2011, demanding $1m (£650,000) in damages, and claiming, “If one is perceived to be ‘over the hill’, ie approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress… to get work.”
Her case had the backing of the Screen Actors Guild.
However, a judge forced Ms Huang to reveal her identity, and the case was reduced to the question of whether IMDb had broken its user agreement. The site’s lawyers argued that it had a First Amendment right to publish accurate information and branded Ms Hoang “selfish”, pointing to the fact that she, “did not present any testimony, documents, or other evidence supporting her damages allegations of lost income and profits.” After a two-day trial in Seattle, a federal jury agreed, finding that the site had not breached any legal obligations to the actress.
Ms Huang has featured in such films as My Big Phat Hip Hop Family, Hoodrats 2: Hoodrat Warriors, and Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver, a sequel to the 2005 horror-comedy Gingerdead Man, which, according to its description on IMDb.com, stars Gary Busey as “an evil yet adorable gingerbread man [who] comes to life with the soul of a convicted killer.”
After the verdict, she told the Associated Press, “My hope was that it would make a change in the database… I knew it was a problem not just for me but for anyone else who had their age on their profile.”
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 'Isis' schoolgirls: Missing British teenager tweets picture of her Syrian takeaway
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3, review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton - really?
The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove