“Without relief from this unconstitutional law, IMDb must choose between risking civil liability or engaging in self-censorship,” states the motion.
Internet movie hub IMDb is asking the court to prohibit the enforcement of a new law that bars it from displaying an actor’s age on its site if the actor doesn’t want it posted.
The controversial law was signed by California Gov. Jerry Brown in September. Its goal is to mitigate age discrimination in a youth-obsessed Hollywood, but since its passing it has been widely criticized as unconstitutional. IMDb sued California Attorney General Kamala Harris in November, arguing that the law chills free speech rather than addressing the root causes of age discrimination.
Now, IMDb is upping the ante.
In a Thursday motion, attorney John Hueston asked U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting the enforcement of the law, which took effect Jan. 1, until its legality can be determined. Currently, under the law, IMDb is required to remove upon request the birthdate and age of any entertainment industry professional, including behind-the-scenes folks like directors and producers, from both IMDb.com and its subscription site IMDbPro.com.
Hueston argues that IMDb is highly likely to succeed on the merits of its claim because the law is not sufficiently narrowed to actually prevent age discrimination.
“The law is unconstitutionally over-inclusive because it requires IMDb to censor the factual age-related information of producers, directors, casting agents, and myriad other entertainment professionals, many of whom face no realistic risk of age discrimination from the publication of their ages on IMDb,” writes Hueston. “The law is also unconstitutionally under-inclusive, because it does nothing to restrict the ready availability of the same factual age information from other public sources.”
In short, IMDb argues that the law restricts speech without advancing its purpose and therefore violates the First Amendment.
Without an injunction, IMDb claims it faces irreparable harm — including the threat of civil lawsuits.
“Since AB 1687 was passed, more than 2,300 people have already demanded that IMDb censor factual age information that appears on IMDb.com,” writes Hueston. “Without relief from this unconstitutional law, IMDb must choose between risking civil liability or engaging in self-censorship.”
IMDb also argues that an injunction serves the public interest and would cause the AG’s office virtually no hardship, only a “slight delay while the Court assesses the statute’s constitutionality.”
Harris’ office did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the motion, which is posted in full below.