"You published my age!" IMDd case rejected

An actress who sued the Internet Movie Database for publishing her age has lost her case. [BBC]


  1. “According to the website, her credits include the 2011 title Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver.”
    Wow. Burn.

  2. I actually am on the side of the actress for this one – really I don’t like the idea that any private entity has a right to collect information about me (or anyone) and publish it without permission.

    That standard goes up even further when it’s information that an employer is not allowed to ask about in a job interview – why bother to have laws protecting that information during the interview process if a private company can just collect all the ‘forbidden’ info and publish it (and make money off of it).

    1. Did you read the AP story?
      She signed up for IMDB Pro and gave her listing a fake age. When she thought her fake age was getting to high she asked them to remove it.  They only change things if you can prove they are false, so she asked them to verify her age.  And well they found her real age.

      She created the situation by trying to spin an illusion and lost control.
      She managed to not provide a single shred of evidence she wasn’t getting work or had been rejected because of the data on IMDB.
      With her “VAST” acting credentials one is shocked to learn she isn’t getting work.

      1. There’s a simple solution to this.  IMDb should allow anyone with a listing to request that their listing be removed.  In its entirety.  Mischief managed.

        Also, can you e-mail me at my name at this domain?

    2. IMDB simply printed a biography based upon publicly available information. Since she is a public figure, there is no real privacy issue involved. The question is whether people should have the ability to hide what they don’t like from public biographies. 

      Can a public figure sue because a biographical entry said they were arrested, got busted for drugs, or had a messy affair? (Although, in Hollywood, all of those things hurt an actress’ career  a lot less than being over 40).

      I understand her concerns. Even the best actresses have problems finding jobs once they get what Hollywood determines as too old. An actress who isn’t an A lister probably even has more problems. However, IMDB didn’t slander her. They didn’t make fun of her. They simply produced a profile that mentioned her birthday.

      1.  She’s hardly a public figure.  The only reason we have heard of her is because of this lawsuit, and this lawsuit came after IMDB was publishing her information.  The ironic thing is that if she were more of a public figure, she would have a better chance getting jobs. 

        IMDB is publishing her personal data against her consent and it is harming her.

        1. Hm I can kinda see the hurting argument, but she IS a public figure.  She is part of movies directed to the general public, available for distribution (for anyone that wants to watch that kind of stuff).  Being an actress, I would bet she would not mind becoming a MORE public figure.  

          That the age is relevant to a public job is a pity, and it itself not really jMDB’s fault. I always supposed it’s just something people that enter this type of career knew and accepted this as a career hazard.  Not just actors, but models and sports players too.

          1. She used a pseudonym while acting.
            By similar logic you and I are public figures, because we are writing comments that will be seen by the general public. I’m willing to bet, more people will read this comment than will see Gingerdead 3.

          2. I admit it’s not clearly cut.  I do think there is a difference between selling your image and performance skills to the public (making a movie is basically that) and discussing on a public location (like arguing on the streets, or on a forum).  There is also a matter of how much of it is simply factual versus how much of it is innately private like taste, personality, preferences, etc.  Again, it’ s a gray area, but her birth date is not exactly the same as her sexual preferences, or even her address (which is to some degree factual, but has an immediate and obvious effect on her ability to move freely).

          3. I don’t like the notion that appearing in material made to be viewed by the public automatically makes you a public figure. I think a lot of people who have dabbled in porn performance would agree.

          4. Maybe they don’t intend that, but I disagree, I think it does make you a public figure to some extent.  I support the rights of porn actors to be left alone though. I just don’t think that people should be arrested or sued for saying or writing “hey, I know John Holmes, I was there for his 71st birthday!” 

            There’ s a line to be drawn somewhere, I’m just not sure where it is.

        2. Sorry but she was in “Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver”.  I can’t avoid hearing about her now.

      2.  I am not sure how being a ‘public’ figure gives anyone a right to know everything about you – I make a big distinction between ‘public figure that is serving the public’ like a politician and ‘public figure because your job is visible’ – it’s still a job, and really shouldn’t automatically make you available to a lack of privacy.

        I really don’t like the idea that any private company can sell someone’s information without consent – then again I guess I can start my own company to start tracking race, religion, marital status, age and employment info (including if they got fired) and just publish it for a fee to companies – because hey – if there is money to be made then it’s cool.  And as long as the company doesn’t *ask* then it’s cool if they just pay for the info right?

        Nah – while I expect this to happen – I can’t do it – the thought makes me feel like a slimeball.

        1. “Jubilex, Prenda Law on line one for you, something about an idea you had on Boing Boing?”

        2. There are people that are really easy to place into a protected class. They are still protected.

          Legal advice to avoid asking certain questions is not given out to protect the interviewee from the question, it is given out to protect the interviewer from accusation.

    3.  You can’t ask their age but that does not mean you cannot find *out* their age quite easily.

      “Who granted your degree?” followed by a phone call will tell you *when* someone got their degree as well as verifying it exists and there you have someone’s approximate age.  “What High School did you graduate from” followed by a bit of work and you know their age to within a couple of years.

      Or IMDB could have just called around, this stuff isn’t exactly Top Secret.  Most people leave a trail of “bread crumbs” about themselves about eight lanes wide.

    1.  http://www.eeoc.gov/youth/age2.html

      Can my employer ask
      about my age?

      Federal law does not prohibit employers from asking an
      applicant’s age or date of birth. However, because such questions
      may discourage older workers from applying for jobs or may
      otherwise indicate a possible intent to discriminate based on age,
      employers should ensure that they ask about age only for a lawful

      Can employers assign
      work based on employees’ ages?

      No. Employers may not assign work based on employees’ ages, even
      if the employer believes the assignments will benefit the workers.
      For example, a retail store manager cannot assign an older worker
      to work with only senior citizen shoppers.

      Your company (and HR) may require birthdate once they hire someone – but I’m willing to bet they toe the line like most do – Federal law is a PITA when you break it.

      1. As someone who was involved in hiring procedures, we would never have asked about age because it could have been used against us if there were a problem later on. Also, it’s irrelevant.

        1. I am not disagreeing – however it *is* legal to hire based on looks so honestly how horrible is it for those casting directors to look at the portfolio’s of said actors and figure out if they fit the image they are looking for.

          That was the entire basis of her case (IIRC) – that without taking anything else into account seeing the age would cause the discrimination.

          I know people that are 50 that still look late 20’s early 30’s – and I know people in their 20’s that look 50+ – in the acting profession – how old you really are shouldn’t matter if you can act and you have the look the part requires.

          All that being said I still don’t like the idea that a private corporationentity has the right to post any information about me that I don’t allow them to – just because they can doesn’t mean I have to like it – and wanting *more* privacy ‘opt outs’ is a all or nothing position – you can’t say ‘I want privacy for myself but not them’ – the only exception (in my little world view) is someone running for or holding a public office – it’s just a higher standard of transparency that I expect for that type of position – and I still don’t care about their sex life or religion or lack thereof. 

          1. I know people that are 50 that still look late 20’s early 30’s – and I know people in their 20’s that look 50+ – in the acting profession – how old you really are shouldn’t matter if you can act and you have the look the part requires.

            But they can post their own photos from twenty years ago on IMDb, so birthdate is the only reliable bit of information.

    2. Your date of birth will probably be needed to fill out paper work after you’ve already been hired, but age is something most large companies shy away from asking about. It opens the door to age discrimination lawsuits if the person is not hired and the person who is is older or younger than they. I find HR departments try to avoid these potential lawsuits at all cost, even if they’d be easy to dispute/dismiss, just to not have to deal with them.

      The only exceptions I could think of would be verifying someone is old enough to work (over 14 with a permit, etc) or above the age to use certain equipment (I think you need to be 18 to operate a lot of stuff in a kitchen for example?). 

      But yea, it is legal to ask. And certainly legal to look it up. 

  3. Worrying about your age being on the internet nowadays is like worrying about getting mud on your shoes at a riot.

  4. IMDB kinda sucks these days.  The information is so often incomplete.  I look up a TV show cast for any given episode and none of the guest stars are on it. I end up going to other TV show sites to find that info now. Too bad I wasn’t looking for Junie Hoang.

  5. I love how actors are somehow “public figures.” Sure, a little press could help her get work, but she’s not running for office. It’s not in the interest of the public to have access to information she’d like to keep private. 

    I think this is kind of a cultural blind spot. Why treat actors like public property and not, say, editors? Screenwriters? DPs? We don’t even treat directors or producers with such entitlement, generally. My point is that actors may be the face of much of our entertainment media, but it’s completely arbitrary to assign them responsibility for it. They aren’t even crafting the message, they’re just reading the lines. 

    For the record, I think IMDB has a vested interest in not presenting false information. It might harm their credibility/usefulness to casting directors (I have no idea how much it matters, but I know several people who are on there). I don’t know if the actor herself felt too trapped to just close down the profile (must have a profile to work, but can’t change the information). But it’s still none of our business, really. That information doesn’t serve the public. And talking about small time (or any) actors as “public figures” is weird. 

  6. “She is best known for a lawsuit against IMDb.com for revealing her age.” – Wikipedia. SO you know her career must of been going well beforehand, if this is her true claim to fame. If anything, some people actually know about her now so maybe she can get a gig.

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