A Hollywood suit for the ages

Age may be a closely guarded secret among Hollywood celebrities, but they can’t prevent movie websites from revealing it to the masses, according to a court ruling Friday.

In IMDb.com Inc. v. Becerra and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a 2017 California law that required the popular internet movie database remove actors’  ages and dates of birth from its site and other sites owned by IMDb.com Inc. upon request.

The three-judge panel unanimously held that the law violated the First Amendment rights of IMDb, agreeing with the district court’s assertion that California’s legislature did not have “freewheeling authority to declare new categories of speech outside the scope of the First Amendment.”

The actors’ labor union, Los Angeles-based SAG-AFTRA, argued that posting actors’ birthdates and ages has led to age discrimination in the industry. Although the circuit court agreed that reducing age discrimination “is a compelling government interest” it held that the state legislature failed to provide any evidence that the law was “actually necessary” or that it considered a less restrictive measure before “resorting to the drastic step of restricting speech.”

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