A 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.