The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) is suing the state of California over a recently passed law that forces subscription entertainment database sites to remove an actor’s age within five days if requested by the person.
The Californian law was passed back in September as a way of fighting age discrimination within the entertainment industry. Various actors’ groups had been campaigning for the move, including Sag-aftra, whose president, former Beverly Hills, 90210 star Gabrielle Carteris, wrote: “Age discrimination is a major problem in our industry, and it must be addressed.”
“[actors] face blatant age discrimination every day as websites routinely used for casting talent force birth dates and ages on casting decision-makers without their even realizing it,” she added.
Carteris doubts she would have been cast in the role as Andrea Zuckerman in the popular 90’s show if her age had been known at the time.
IMDb disagrees with the actors. The Amazon-owned company said removing ages from its database won’t solve the age discrimination problem, and claims it is being unfairly targeted.
“Prejudice and bias, not truthful information, are the root causes of discrimination,” the lawsuit says. “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.”
IMDb says the law is unconstitutional - as do a number of lawyers and law professors who say it violates the first amendment. The company also points out that subscribers to its professional ‘IMDb Pro’ service have been able to edit their details and remove ages/birthdates since 2010.
IMDb wants a permanent injunction banning the bill and asks the court to “declare that Assembly bill 1687 is unconstitutional and that IMDb cannot be liable for failing to censor factual public information.”