Amazon is asking an appellate
court to uphold a decision clearing the company for publishing actress Junie Hoang's real age on IMDb.com.
“IMDb is in the business of publishing truthful and accurate information
about the entertainment industry,” the company says in papers filed with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. “IMDb is not a social media site where users create and control their own
profile, or where they may choose to misrepresent or omit information.”
Amazon makes the argument in response to Hoang's attempt to convince the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to revive
Shortly after Hoang first created an IMDb.com, she said she was born in 1978, according to court papers. She later decided that her profile shouldn't include any year of birth and asked IMDb.com to
remove the date.
The company refused to do so without proof that the 1978 date was wrong. After Hoang persisted, a company employee allegedly accessed data that Hoang submitted when
registering for a premium profile on the site. (Hoang used a stage name on her profile, but created the subscription under her real name; the credit card that she used to subscribe also carried her
actual name.) Once IMDb.com determined Hoang's real name, the company searched through databases and determined her actual date of birth, which it appended to her profile.
Hoang said in her
to their requests. Amazon also said that it learned her name from her subscriber data, as opposed to her credit card.
A jury ruled against Hoang after a trial in April. She is now appealing
that decision to the 9th Circuit. She argues that her original attorney, John Dozier, suffered from a serious, ultimately fatal illness, and wasn't able to prepare for the case. Her subsequent
attorney was then forced to go to trial without enough information, as well as the opportunity to present expert witnesses, she says in her appellate papers. Hoang also contends that Dozier's illness
prevented her from presenting witnesses who would have testified about the importance of age in Hollywood.
The Screen Actors Guild is among the groups backin
g Hoang's appeal. The organization says that its members have complained
for at least 10 years about IMDB.com's unwillingness to revise information on the site -- including data that is accurate, but potentially compromises people's privacy. The SAG specifically says that
female actors over 40 lose opportunities for work when their true age is published. “The loss of work that can result not only affects the actor’s ability to pay the rent or buy groceries,
but also affects eligibility for health insurance and pension credits and can have lifelong and substantial consequences,” SAG argues in its papers.
But Amazon argues that those
contentions aren't relevant to Hoang's lawsuit. “This case does not involve age discrimination,” Amazon says in its appellate papers, filed late last year. “IMDb is not involved in
Hollywood casting decisions and certainly was not involved in any decisions whether or not to hire Hoang for any acting roles. IMDb simply published accurate information about Hoang.”