IMDb sues California after law passed allowing actors to ban people from finding out how old they are

'It imposes liability on IMDb based on factual content'

Jack Shepherd
Friday 11 November 2016 15:04
Actor Danny Trejo attends the IMDb Yacht at San Diego Comic-Con
Actor Danny Trejo attends the IMDb Yacht at San Diego Comic-Con

For many, The Internet Movie Database - better known as IMDb - is the go-to resource for all film information, the websites famous top 250 films list being the holy grail of good cinema.

However, in September, California passed a law ruling that “a commercial online entertainment employment service provider” would have to remove the age of any actor held on the database if requested by the actor.

While intended to be a positive move in fighting age discrimination in the film industry, IMDb has taken issue with California, deciding to sue the state.

In their suit, IMDb claims the law “does not advance, much less achieve” a reduction in age discrimination, countering that the law ‘violates both the first amendments and commerce clause of the US constitution,’ as noted by The Guardian.

The company also claims the law violates federal law “because it imposes liability on IMDb based on factual content that is lawfully posted by its users”. IMDb also questions how the law can be imposed in their website while not on the likes of Wikipedia, Google, and other websites that detail the birthdays of celebrities.

In conclusion, IMDb’s lawsuit asks the court to “declare that Assembly bill 1687 is unconstitutional and that IMDb cannot be liable for failing to censor factual public information.”

When the law was initially passed, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said: “Like all employees, performers deserve a fair opportunity to prove what they can do, and this bill will help them do just that.”

The law - known as AB-1687 - only applies to commercial websites, which are defined as those that display ads or receive money from subscribers. That means it doesn’t affect websites like Wikipedia, where the information is uploaded by the public, or news sites.

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