Last month a story rocketed around the web of an actress suing the Internet Movie Database (owned by Amazon.com), claiming it used credit card information to find her birth date and publish it on the IMDb site. Most stories left the invasion of privacy issue alone and focused on an actress suing to keep her age confidential – she says that ageism in Hollywood is a big problem for actresses as they approach 40.
I used my site, however, to talk about whether or not a court would permit her to proceed anonymously, a subject then picked up by The Hollywood Reporter.
And now The Hollywood Reporter follows up with a story saying that IMDb is doing exactly as I predicted, attacking her anonymity. I bet there is no doubt among the strategists that if she can be forced to reveal her identity, the suit will be dropped and IMDb will never have to confront the issue of privacy issues and credit cards.
According to THR, IMDb has now filed a nasty motion to dismiss, believing that this actress is the same as another that made a similar complaint:
she first tried to get the service to post a false birthdate so she could fool potential Hollywood employers into thinking she was younger than she actually is. Now a judge is being asked to dismiss the lawsuit so as to not perpetuate a fraud on the public.
Oooooh. Fight back against the actress with a charge of trying to defraud the public. Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that what Hollywood and actors do? Does anyone really believe a giant monkey will climb the Empire State Building? That there’s a giant intergalactic war going on? That Joanie really loves Chachi?
This is the way IMDb approaches the issue in the Court:
“Truth and justice are philosophical pillars of this Court. The perpetuation of fraud, even for an actor’s career, is inconsistent with these principals. Plaintiff’s attempt to manipulate the federal court system so she can censor iMDb’s display of her birth date and pretend to the world that she is not 40 years old is selfish, contrary to the public interest and a frivolous abuse of this Court’s resources.”
Of course, the actress wasn’t trying to perpetuate a fraud on the court, but trying to stop an invasion of privacy regarding her credit card information. So that is an interesting shift of the real issue.
But not everything is serious in the filing, as THR reports:
The company also claims to be taking the moral high ground in protecting entertainment consumers from an actress who wants to “more easily deceive the public and prospective employers about her age and potentially be considered for more roles.”
Of course, I think that IMDb is being funny when it talks about the public being deceived by an actress, whose very training is doing just that: pretending to be someone else. It’s sort of what makes Hollywood go round and round.
One particularly odd thing about the synopsis of the filing: IMDb is claiming an attempted fraud, yet they claim not to know who the actress actually is. They only think it is someone else who made a similar complaint.
Anyway, when the fighting is all done, I think the actress will lose her bid to be anonymous, but it will have nothing to do with trying to perpetuate frauds. It will be because this type of case doesn’t meet the high bar set for seeking anonymity that I originally discussed.