Judge Sides With Amazon Against Actress

GavelA 40-year-old actress who sued Amazon for allegedly revealing her true age on her Internet Movie Database listing must disclose her real name in order to proceed with the case, a judge has ruled.

U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle said that people are required to bring suit under their real names unless doing so would put them at risk of harm.

“While the harms that Plaintiff fears -- embarrassment, ridicule, and retaliation -- may be serious, they do not rise to the level of severity required by the Ninth Circuit to permit a party to bring a case anonymously in federal court,” Pechman wrote in an opinion issued late last week. 

The actress sued Amazon in October for allegedly using information from her credit card to discover her true date of birth and appending it to her public Internet Movie Database listing. The actress, who filed suit under the pseudonym Jane Doe, says in her complaint that she created a professional profile in Amazon's IMDb.com eight years ago. She did so under a stage name, and also shaved several years off her age.

In 2008, she used a credit card issued under her legal name to upgrade to a premium IMDbPro account. Subsequently, her listing on the site was updated with her true age -- which, she says, is “many years older than she looks.”

She argues that Amazon's IMDb.com could only have discovered her real age by using her credit card information to scour public records for data about her. Amazon -- which denied that it did so -- argued that the actress should not be allowed to proceed unless she reveals her true name.

The retail giant also made other arguments, including that the actress has no right to keep it from publishing accurate information, but Pechman's ruling only addressed the actress's name.

Pechman acknowledged in her ruling that the purpose of the actress's lawsuit might be defeated if she must identify herself in court. Nonetheless, Pechman ruled, procedural rules require true names. “The issue before the court is not whether plaintiff may use the judiciary to accomplish her precise goal of redressing her harm while protecting her identity,” the judge wrote.

Pechman said that if the actress wishes to proceed with the lawsuit, she must file it under her name within two weeks.

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1 comment about "Judge Sides With Amazon Against Actress".
  1. Chris Nielsen from Domain Incubation , December 28, 2011 at 10:20 a.m.
    I'm not a lawyer but I would think that if you give someone your personal information, then they use some of that information to find other information about you that is public, that it would be fair use of the information you gave them. The IMDb listing was updated with accurate information to replace the original "lie", and the information came from a public source. So the issue may be if Amazon had the right to use the credit card information for anything more than billing purposes. But even if Amazon did not have permission, since the information about the actress is public, I would think proving her case would be just about impossible. The real question in my mind is who updated the listing and why? In my opinion the advise the actress should have gotten was to contact IMDb and ask what happened. Too often people sue first and ask questions later.