Judge Strikes Down California Law Requiring IMDb To Censor Actors' Ages

A California law that requires IMDb.com to remove actors' ages at their request is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the state from enforcing AB 1687 -- a law that aims to combat age discrimination in the entertainment industry.

The law, passed in 2016, requires providers of “commercial online entertainment employment" services -- a description that appears to apply only to Amazon's IMDb.com -- to remove information about paying subscribers' ages at their request.

IMDb challenged the measure on the grounds that it violates the company's free speech rights. Chhabria, who temporarily blocked the law last year, ruled Tuesday that the measure violates the First Amendment.

"AB 1687 is a direct restriction on speech," he wrote in a six-page opinion. "The law prohibits certain speakers from publishing certain truthful information -- information that, in many instances, is supplied by members of the public -- because of concerns that a third party might use that information to engage in illegal conduct."

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The Screen Actors Guild, which backed the measure, argued information that facilitates discrimination can be restricted. The group wrote in court papers that IMDb's publication of ages "is an open invitation for casting directors to engage in illegally discriminatory conduct."

Chhabria rejected that argument, writing that the SAG's theory could "enable states to forbid publication of virtually any fact."

The judge also suggested that lawmakers took the wrong approach to discrimination when they passed the measure. "Rather than clarify what antidiscrimination law requires of employers in the entertainment industry, which would directly support the state's compelling interest in ensuring those employers don't discriminate, the legislature decided to censor a source of truthful information," he wrote.

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