Wednesday, December 12, 2018

California law regarding protecting information on actors' ages challenged on First Amendment; so is a compelled professional speech law

A few years ago California passed a law requiring commercial websites to remove actors’ age or birthdate years from online if requested.  As a result, imdb and imdbpro generally don’t publish birth years.  Often this information is omitted from Wikipedia.  Of course, actors could just leave a head shot taken as a younger person on their resumes. 
It would be a good question whether a blog that identified an actor’s age could be compelled to remove it. 

The reason for the law is to reduce age discrimination, especially in film and television. This might be more relevant to generic large-scale family films, romantic comedies, or comics films than smaller independent films where there is a tendency for it to be important that the actor look like the part. 

SAG has supported this law. It ‘s also interesting that there is a push for racial diversity in casting, which could affect the production of a historical or eclectic film (like my own DADT screenplay) where it is more critical that a character be portrayed exactly as written.

But IMDB v. Becerra will challenge the constitutionality of the law (CIV 1798), as explained in an article on EFF by David Greene, under the First Amendment (and incorporation doctrine) concerning truthful information of public interest.  

The relevant case was Smith v. Daily Mail, regarding the a W Va law regarding the newspaper publication of a minor defendant before conviction.

There is also a case NIFLA v. Becerra, as to whether a state can compel speech from a professional contrary to that person’s beliefs.
As a blogger, I rare do this (because of a practical risk) unless it is very certain that the party has confessed.

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