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IMDb Age Law Violates First Amendment, Court Rules

By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. on February 21, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Celebrities are usually known for being sensitive about revealing their age. In fact, AB 1687 was passed in California to restrict the disclosure of actors' ages (if requested by an actor) on entertainment databases that required a subscription. However, a federal judge has ruled that the law violates the First Amendment.

More Than Just Vanity

While celebrities are known for generally being vain, there was more than just vanity at the heart of the age law. SAG-AFTRA lobbied legislators to pass the age law, arguing that the restriction would help fight age discrimination. In fact, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris insisted that she may not have been cast in the show Beverly Hills 90210 if her true age had been known. For those too young to know the show, it revolved around high school students and Carteris was much older than a high school student when she was cast in the show.

SAG-AFTRA believes that in its ruling, the court has failed to understand "the massive impact gender and age discrimination has on all working performers" and "the discrimination is facilitated by IMDb's insistence on publishing performers' age information without their consent." SAG-AFTRA also stated that it will be appealing the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

How Did the Law Violate the First Amendment?

Judge Vince Chhabria ruled that the age law violated the First Amendment because "the law on its face singles out specific, non-commercial content -- age-related information -- for differential treatment." Judge Chhabria stated that the defendants didn't show that the age law can withstand strict scrutiny and didn't raise a dispute of material fact, thus granting IMDb's motion for summary judgment. With this ruling, California is permanently enjoined from enforcing the age law.

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