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

Would the law mean that, as well as the actual birthday, that this comment must also be removed?

–Played a character about half her age on Beverly Hills, 90210.

Which gives no actual age information, but still gets the point across (that she’s an old fart, just like me.). But maybe this one would have to be scrubbed?:

—Admitted that when she first auditioned for Beverly Hills, 90210 (1990) she lied about her age because she feared that being 29 at the time she was too old to play a high school student.

On IMDB? Probably.

On SDMB? No, as this site is not a professional service, and even if it was, if the site itself is not based in California, then it’s not breaking any law.

Happy to educate you.

First Amendment litigation has broader standing tests because of the chilling effect of such laws. Like abortion laws, the law can be challenged before it is violated.

And one may file anonymously and have closed proceedings in many different circumstances. The test is pretty vague and if the other side agrees then it’s rarely denied. That said, I don’t think cases on these facts would be properly sealed. But they could likely redact from filings the ages/names they plan to disclose if it became necessary to do so to prove standing.

It is correct that, theoretically, courts aren’t supposed to seal or let litigants proceed anonymously except for rare and narrow circumstances. In actual practice, the enforcement of sealing rules is looser than you might think, especially when the other side doesn’t object. But that’s a side tangent here since the company could file suit on its own behalf and nothing would need to be sealed or revealed.

And I don’t think there’s any doctrine that says the First Amendment applies differently if the law is merely inserting a new nondisclosure requirement in a contract. Courts are very reluctant to invent new exceptions like that. Instead, a court trying to uphold this law would probably try to analogize to some kind of professional responsibility regulation (like HIPAA or lawyer-client privilege), although I think that too is ultimately incorrect on these facts.

I am not sure how California believes that it has any jurisdiction outside of that state. The IMDB website, for instance, appears to be located in Virginia and the company appears to be located in Seattle. Whois IMDB.COM.

I suspect that other companies are likewise outside of the California jurisdiction.

I’m not sure why they bothered to pass the law.


Thank you. This has indeed been a very interesting thread.

It’s California, they do all sorts of stuff that doesn’t make sense.

And then name a role that a 36-year-old can play that a 37-year-old can’t, and the role a 35-year-old can play that a 36-year-old can’t, and so on. And yet, despite that, there still manage to be roles that a 12-year-old can play that a 70-year-old can’t. Threshold values for decisions always end up being wonky, and yet decisions can’t be made without them.

You don’t need to know the date of birth of an actor to decide if they are fit for a particular role any more than you need to know the date of birth of a software engineer to decide if he’s fit for a particular job.

When Angela Lansbury played the mother of an actor 3 years her junior, their actual ages didn’t matter at all, the casting worked because each actor was able to play the role successfully.

Age is, at best, a rough indicator of fitness for a role, if you use it to cull applicants you will either cutoff people who are fit for the role, or have such wide bounds that the cutoff is useless. The point of anti-discrimination law is to ensure that everyone who is fit to hold a job has a legitimate opportunity to compete for it, and isn’t denied that opportunity over factors that don’t make them unfit for the job.

I’m not going to say “I told you so,” but…

A proper FOAD response to a stupid law.