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California act: removal date of birth from entertainment databases

California has enacted a law that allows actors (and other entertainment people) to have their date of birth removed from databases such as the well-known IMDB.com. You have to be a paid subscriber. At first seems maybe a strange condition, but probably because otherwise the Act could lead to costs for IMDB (or other databases) for removal of many non-paid users. In my first class of Internet Law I always show students I am very good at bridge (the first butler in the Netherlands), had a website for trading stamps (allstamps.nl), and that I was born in 1954:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All examples are about another Arno Lodder, but if it was not, the Act would allow me to remove this 1954 date of birth in case this was an entertainment data base. The rationale is to prevent age discrimination. Apparently, this can be an issue. In 2013 there was an intriguing case about an actress who kept on arguing that her date of birth from IMDB was fake (but it actually was the other way around). I repost my blog post below from 2013, but with this new Act she could have simply remove her date of birth. I doubt however whether it is allowed to have a fake date of birth.

From Jurel.nl, 14/11/2013

“Please go back on your files and see if you have any documentation, verification, or identification that my birthdate is in 1978.”

This case about damage due to having published someone’s real age is even more interesting than already seems at first sight.

1. Factual: how can you complain someone shows your real age?

2. Procedural: may IMDB use confidential information owned about their customers?

The actual case is even more interesting than the above two questions.

2001: The actress, HUONG HOANG, that uses the artist name Junie Hoang started entering information on IMDB, and initially left her age blank.

2004: In June 2004, Hoang used her friend Greg Carter’s IMDb account to submit a 1978 date of birth for her profile, even though her true date of birth was seven years earlier, in 1971.

2008:  She decided she wanted to have her age blank again, but IMDB did not cooperate. As the title indicates, after some communications she insisted IMDB would prove that her wrong age was right.

IMDB could not find any info on the open internet about her age. Because Junie kept on complaining. So they started looking in their customer’s files. I further quote from the March 2013 ruling. Appeal is currently in progress, but I am sure no one doubts about the outcome. (via http://www.scribd.com/doc/131347469/Hoang-v-IMDb-com-C11-1709MJP-W-D-Wash-Mar-19-2013):

Please go back on your files and see if you have any documentation, verification, or identification that my birthdate is in 1978.” (Dkt. No. 133 at 2.) The email continued, “If you do, please email it to me because I’m curious to see what you’re going off of.” (Id.) Interpreting this email as an invitation to begin investigating, an IMDb customer service manager, Giancarlo Cairella, searched public records for “June Hoang,” but was unable to find a birth date. (Dkt. No. 85 at 4.) Ciarella then accessed IMDb’s “IPS database,” which contains subscriber information that customers submit when paying to subscribe to IMDbPro. (Id.) In the IPS database, Ciarella found Hoang’s legal name, Huong Thu Hoang, which Plaintiff submitted in 2004 when she signed up for the free trial of IMDbPro. (Id.)

This was the only place Plaintiff’s full name was available to him. (Id.) Armed with this information, Ciarella searched a public records database called PrivateEye, which returned a result showing that “Huong Thu Hoang” had a birth date with the same month and day that Plaintiff’s profile indicated, but in 1971. Id.) Satisfied that he had resolved the mystery of Hoang’s birth date, Ciarella directed IMDb’s data content team to publish Plaintiff’s correct birth date on her profile page. (Id.) Even after her true birth date was published online, Hoang continued to press ahead with her false information campaign, sending IMDb links to her fake passport to “correct/delete [her] birthdate.


 

 



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