California Passes Law Requiring Removal of Actor Ages by Database Sites on Request

Here’s a link to the article in Variety

My question is, how do you enforce this? It’s not a federal law, and it’s mostly public information anyway. I mean most actors will have a Wikipedia page.

I am putting this here as I’m asking for opinions on the law and even if it’s workable.

Please move it it’s the wrong forum.

Required reading: Poundstone’s chapter on celebrity ages in Bigger Secrets. Old, but still relevant and completely bizarre. Nevada courts changed Charo’s birth certificate against all evidence and logic.

I see, so instead of cracking down on actual instances of age discrimination by the filmmakers, let’s just prevent public-site dissemination of date of birth. Brilliant. That will help a heap…

How do you crack down on actual instances of age discrimination by the filmmakers? Casting in inherently a subjective matter. And the perceived age of the actor is a legitimate factor.

What else are they going to remove, the actors’ height, weight, ethnicity, work history, acting ability? And why only actors? Why not outlaw all resumes?

So a CA newspaper has been running one of those standard Today’s Birthdays columns for years. They’ve been digitized and put online. If someone complains, do they have to search all those and scrub them?

BTW: Happy 55th Birthday to Heather Locklear. Cheryl Tiegs is 69.

Note that there are several people search sites out there. They also frequently list an age.

What makes a person a celebrity? Am I famous enough to have my age scrubbed from all those sites.

Throw in the Streisand Effect and you’ve got a bad law.

aren’t there legal precedents regarding the press and public figures?

The idea that we could totally eliminate all discrimination in hiring is plainly impossible, if you think about it for a little while. But in some quarters, battling against “discrimination” has become a hysterical obsession that’s totally disconnected from logic. It leads to bad laws that hurt the very people who are supposed to be helped.

Here is the actual law.

This law does NOT give “celebrities” the right to demand that their birthdays be removed from random web sites. It only gives them the right to remove the information from web sites that they have paid to publish employment information about themselves.

The law applies to “[a] commercial online entertainment employment service provider that enters into a contractual agreement to provide employment services to an individual for a subscription payment.”

Wikipedia does not enter into contractual agreements to provide employment services to an individual for a subscription payment.

I suppose if the newspaper accepted payments from actors to post their resumes online, it might be covered. But it would only have to remove the birthdays of those actors who paid to have their resumes published.

The law says nothing about “celebrity.” The law applies to "commercial online entertainment employment service providers” which the law defines as “a person or business that owns, licenses, or otherwise possesses computerized information, including, but not limited to, age and date of birth information, about individuals employed in the entertainment industry, including television, films, and video games, and that makes the information available to the public or potential employers.”

The law gives the subscribers of these service providers the right to demand that their birthdays be removed. It does not say that the subscriber has to be any kind of celebrity. Note that you have to be a paid subscriber of the service in order to demand that your birthday be scrubbed. So, if you are a waiter or a plumber that paid to have your resume put on IMDBpro, you can demand that they remove your birthday.

I’m not sure they’ve avoided the First Amendment problem by narrowing the law to commercial websites with whom the requestor has a contract. If the government tells a private entity that it cannot publish certain information based on the content of that information, then the law is subject to strict scrutiny. There is no exception for when the regulated entity has a contract with the person whose information is at issue, when that contract is silent on the publication of the information–and I’m unsure why a court would create such an exception.

I suspect this one will die in court, should any of these companies decide to challenge it.

Why would a celebrity pay money to a website for publicity only to have the site publish their age and then refuse to remove it?

Once you’re in the ‘employment services’ business, you enter into a host of equal opportunity issues that don’t exist in other industries.

IMDBPro is an employment service. Actors pay them money to help streamline the employment process, connect with casting directors, etc. If an actor feels that their age makes them at risk of employment discrimination, why should they be forced to provide that information to employers?

Employers generally can’t ask someone for their age during the hiring process, except to ensure they are of legal age to work, it makes no sense to think that IMDBPro can unilaterally decide to provide that information to employers.

OTOH, age can be an essential part of casting and so forth. It’s not the theoretical irrelevance it is for other types of hiring.

Based on Alley Dweller’s information, the law is merely terminally stupid, as opposed to fatally flawed from a schoolboy First Amendment analysis. If someone wants to know how old you are, and they know that Website A might have bad information, they’re not going to use Website A. They’ll use literally any other website claiming to have your information on it, especially if that information says you’re older than what you and Website A claim.

Plus, lawsuits are the exact, polar opposite of private if you’re a public figure. Molly Ringwald doesn’t get to send out a fucking National Security Letter which would cause one of those legally-dubious canaries to keel over. She gets her lawsuit mentioned in Variety with one of those “HAG NAGS PAGE AGE” headlines they probably don’t do anymore. Barbara Streisand might even be smart enough to figure that one out.

If you’re paying someone, you should get to call the tune. Fine. That’s perfectly reasonable. However, isn’t that why we have contracts and contract law? I fail to see what this law does which a single clause in a contract couldn’t do and, while I’m sure there are other laws which could be replaced in the same fashion, this one sticks out as a particularly idiotic example since any enforcement draws attention to precisely what you’re trying to hide.

It would be especially juicy if even this piece of idiocy were too stupid to survive a First Amendment challenge, but I doubt it’s ever going to be a serious problem.

The litigant would be the company, not the actor, obviously.

You say that, but you haven’t offered any legal analysis.

There are a lot of half-applicable possible exceptions–privacy torts, professional licensing, fiduciary duties, confidential relationships, anti-discrimination as state justification meeting strict scrutiny–but none of them really map onto the facts of this particular law, especially when “age” is often a bona fide occupational qualification in Hollywood.

Richard Parker: Either you’re wrong or Alley Dweller is, and at this point I’d rather watch you two hash it out than get involved myself.

I’m just guessing here but maybe this law is designed to cover the organizations it’s supposedly directed against. Organizations like IMDB are caught between the actors and the casting directors; one side wants information and the other side to conceal it. Whichever way IMDB acts, it will displease some of the people whose goodwill it wants. So this law protects them. Organizations can now claim that they’d be happy to give casting directors the information they want - but the law ties their hands. The casting directors are now angry at the law rather than at the organization. The actors are happy (and willing to pay) because they get what they want. And the organizations are happy because they’re not caught in the middle.

The actual number isn’t. How someone looks, sounds, or moves is. How they comport themselves is.

Wilford Brimley and Justin Bieber can’t plausibly perform each other’s roles. But it isn’t the number that matters. It’s the rest of their package.

At the level of major stars the number totally *doesn’t *matter; any director already knows enough of Brimley or Bieber to assess their potential fit to a role. It’s the vast bulk of ordinary minor speaking role players, performers in commercials, etc., who’re interested in avoiding the tyranny of a number.
Just as most of us decry the advent of database screening for jobs in other fields. It’s very easy for HR to ask for 15 checkboxes. Tough if you have 14 of them in spades and a zero on the 15th.

Saying “We need a spokesperson under 30 to reach the youth market” is no different from saying “We need a white male because blacks are less educated and women get pregnant and quit.” What they actually need is a spokesperson who’s youthful. Not one under 30. Those two things are correlated, but they aren’t the same. Just as it’s OK to say “this job needs *X *education and a willingness to commit to full-time work for two years.”
Yes, the law is silly. And probably being promulgated more for Little Nemo’s reasons than reasons of social justice.

But it’s still invalid to conflate arbitrary biographical factoids about any person with their actual capabilities. The unforeseen consequences **ITR champion **points out above just demonstrate how desperately people and businesses want to use bullshit thinking to “simplify” their decision-making. At the expense of getting it wrong a lot while feeling confident doing so.

I don’t think I disagree with anything Alley Dweller posted. Can you point out the disagreement?

The actual number matters, too.

Consider the case in which a producer is casting for a high school drama. The fact that you can play 16 at age 24 is certainly relevant. But also relevant is whether you’re likely to be able to play 18 at 26 and 20 at 28.

Moreover, the age is used in the initial culling, usually before you have a chance to interact with the actor or watch a reel, right?