's IMDb Gets to Keep Publishing Actor Birth Dates

  • California argued law combats Hollywood age discrimination
  • Judge says measure likely violates free-speech rights Inc.’s IMDb won’t have to delete the birth dates of actors and actresses from its website after a federal judge blocked enforcement of a California law meant to curtail age discrimination in Hollywood.

U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco granted the film fan website’s request for a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the statute. The judge wrote in his order that it was difficult to imagine how the law doesn’t violate free-speech protections. Lawyers for the state also failed to show the statute serves a compelling government interest, Chhabria wrote.

“It’s not clear how preventing one mere website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all,” Chhabria said in Wednesday’s order.

California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the law passed last year by the legislature with the aim of ensuring that a person’s age obtained on the Internet won’t be used to discriminate. Chhabria said the state failed to explain why more vigorous enforcement of anti-discrimination laws wouldn’t be at least as effective as removing birth dates from a single website.

The Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, which supported lawyers for the state, said they were disappointed with Chhabria’s decision to "temporarily halt" efforts to prevent employment discrimination.

‘Early Skirmish’

"This is an early skirmish in what will be a long-term battle to ensure that entertainment industry workers are granted the same minimum employment protections as all other workers," Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, general counsel for the labor unions, said in an e-mailed statement.

A representative of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on the ruling.

Chhabria’s ruling blocks the law while the lawsuit is pending.

The case is Inc. v. Becerra, 16-cv-06535, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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