Actress Suing IMDb on the Witness Stand: “The entertainment industry is based on perception … if you tell someone your age, it will affect their perception”

Huang-(Junie)-HoangThe actress suing IMDb for posting her actual birth date on its site, Huong Hoang (who has also been credited as Junie Hoang), took the stand to speak about the long process she went through to try to get IMDb to remove her age from its website.  Parts of her case were dismissed a year ago, but she has been able to proceed on the grounds of whether or not IMDb took her age from her credit card information without her permission and thus not only breached her IMDbPro contract (by the site violating its own privacy policy) but also violated consumer protection laws. 

Because the judge tossed out Hoang’s claims of age discrimination before the trial (the judge ruled that IMDb cannot be held responsible for any age discrimination in the entertainment industry), Hoang’s lawyer Derek Newman is unable to use the term “age discrimination” during the trial.  However, Newman still argued that personal information — such as posting the actual age of a much younger-looking actress — can hurt one’s career.

Hoang went into detail about the numerous attempts she made — by e-mail, phone, and mail — to IMDb’s customer service to demand that her age be removed from the site, though all were unsuccessful.  She pointed out, “The entertainment industry is based on perception … your age, how you look; if you tell someone your age, it will affect their perception,” and said she also did not want her birth date on the site because she had issues with identity theft in the past.

The lawyer for IMDb, Harry Schneider, argued that the site’s policy is to never remove information, only correct misinformation (though those listed on the website have also struggled with that with IMDb in the past).  Furthermore, IMDb claims it did not get her birth date from her billing information but from PrivateEye.com, a third party website.  As an information website, Schneider argues that IMDb is doing its job of giving accurate information to its users and claims it did not post Hoang’s actual birth date until it discovered that the year originally listed was wrong (Hoang initially listed a 1978 birth year for herself, but IMDb changed it to her actual 1971 birth year).  In fact, Schneider argues that because she provided false information — Hoang used a fake passport and a “novelty” ID card with the incorrect year — it was Hoang who violated the terms and conditions, not IMDb.

Also, despite Hoang’s claims of damages her tax records from 2008 to 2011 indicate that she earned a “steady” income from acting.  Of course, Hoang can claim that the actual damages were lost work that would have added to that steady income.  These are all factors the jury will have to consider as the trial continues.

via The Hollywood Reporter

3 Comments

  1. Thomas Garner via Facebook

    April 9, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    I’m on her side (now that I’m 50). IMDb is there (thankfully) to list CREDITS – but that’s it.

  2. Daily Actor via Facebook

    April 9, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Never would have thought you were 50. Must be all that special “happy juice” you drink

  3. Joanne Dorian via Facebook

    April 9, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    I applaud Ms. Hoang for shining light on an issue that has plagued actors for years since the onset of the Internet. Advertisers have always been aware of the fact that “perception is reality” and have used it to manipulate consumers. Ageism is rampant but particularly endemic in show business. Publicly exposing an actor’s age and year of birth affects every area of an actor’s life — from looking for a day job or agent, to dating, to possible identity theft. There are actors on IMDb whose age and year of birth are NOT listed for whatever reason. This creates a playing field where talented performers may be unfairly eliminated from the casting process because of their age being posted. Some time ago I requested that my age be removed from IMDb and was given the same reply, “as a public figure the public has a right to know.” But do they? Doesn’t this cross the line to my right to privacy and personal safety? Comments?

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