Amazon And IMDB Sued FOr Not Respecting Elders

Well, sort of. An actress who identifies herself as Jane Doe has sued the Internet Movie Database Web site, and its parent company, Amazon, for revealing her actual age. I’m not making that up. Here’s the actual complaint, which was filed in a federal court in Seattle. In case you haven’t used it, IMDB is a Web site that has detailed information on any movie ever made. I personally love it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve watched a movie on TV and wondered who the actor was in some small role, and where I’d seen him before. IMDB has all that information. But I digress. According to the complaint, Jane Doe is of Asian descent, and her given name is difficult for Americans to spell and pronounce. She has for that reason used a stage name throughout her career. She is also very careful not to provide personal information, including her true age. According to the complaint, “[i]n the entertainment industry, youth is king. If one is perceived to be “over-the-hill” i.e., approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress, such as plaintiff, to get work.” IMDB also offers a service called IMDbPro, which offers “industry insider” information to paying customers. Ms. Doe signed up for the service and in so doing, provided her name, birth date and other personal information. Not long after, Ms. Doe’s true birth date showed up on her IMDB profile, for the entire world to see. Ms. Doe contends that IMDB got the birth date from the IMDbPro application, and that it violated its own privacy policy by publishing the information. She’s looking for over $1 million in damages. Much of this case will turn on IMDB’s privacy policy – what is it entitled to do with the information. But there are other questions. For instance, if she signed up for the IMDbPro service using her legal name, how did IMDB make the connection? And I don’t know about Jane Doe’s privacy claim. Is someone’s birth year the kind of intimate information that is expected to be private? And should she be allowed to sue anyone for essentially exposing the fact that she’d been lying about her age? And who the heck is she anyway? Anyone have any guesses?