Friday, April 12, 2013

Actress loses suit against website posting her age, but the question is disturbing

An actress, Junie Hoang, sued a high profile website – IMDBPro – for revealing her age, a development that she says caused her to lose work.
In fact, many actor profiles on imdb don’t give birthdates or ages.
Thursday, many media outlets reported she had lost the lawsuit.  The Guardian has a story here.  

AceShowBiz reported the jury verdict hereThe New York Times has an earlier  story giving the details of the arguments here March 4, link.  
The suit had been filed in US District Court in Seattle.   
There is a question about the way imdb got the information, It was off her credit card when she joined the website. (I also have a subscription).  That sounds like a violation of privacy, if she did not give the information knowingly.  (It would require some legal discussion of the various forms of "invasion of privacy" tort; it is not defamation or libel, however, if it is true.)  But imdb says it can publish “accurate information” about anyone.
Wikipedia normally publishes birthdates of people and updates current age dynamically.  No one has complained about Wikipedia’s practice.

What would happen if a blogger disclosed an age, supposedly private, and the person claimed her or she could not get work?  What if this happened in social media?  Section 230 would seem to apply.  But the district court finding (although by a jury) sounds reassuring. 

IMDB (operated by Amazon), of course, did not discriminate against the actress.  It only, supposedly, aided others in doing so.  It’s also relevant that IMDB can claim that she did not have a “contract” with the actress. 
An earlier YouTube video refers to her “winning” a right to go to trial, not to winning the case.

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