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IMDb Beats Hollywood's Age Discrimination Law

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

In a case that has entertained those who follow the entertainment industry, IMDb has won summary judgment against the state of California and the Screen Actors Guild. Generally, the case challenged a new law that would have prevented IMDb from publishing the ages of actors and actresses, upon a thespian's request, in order to fight against age discrimination in the industry.

The law was basically struck down last year when the district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced. And now, with the court's summary judgment ruling, the law is all but dead (unless it can be revived by some miraculous appeal, which will likely be filed based on SAG's response).

Age Discrimination in Hollywood

While there is no doubt that age discrimination is a serious problem in the industry, the court did not find that the law was a reasonable attempt to fight the problem. And though the court applied strict scrutiny in striking down the law, one wonders whether the court would have let the law go into effect at any level of scrutiny.

The court ruled, like it did when it granted the preliminary injunction, that the law did not cut constitutional muster, and could not be squared away with the First Amendment. Also, given the level of information available on information sites, like Wikipedia, and through search engines, like Google, the law simply does not make sense as the information being prohibited by statute is likely easily findable online.

The court highlighted that the ageism problem really appeared to be a gender discrimination and sexism problem. Also, the court explained that the law was too narrowly focused on IMDb. Given the recent pushes of the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, the court's analysis seems to make perfect sense. Unfortunately for those adult actors that love getting cast as high school kids, California law won't help you lie to producers about your age (not like anyone believed you anyway -- looking at you the entire original cast of Beverly Hills 90210).

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