[TheGuardian] It’s no secret that Hollywood can be cruel to aging talent. Now, a 40-year-old Texas actress who lost acting gigs is taking Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) to court, saying the company used confidential credit-card details to publish her real age in its online movie database.
In a “Jane Doe” complaint filed in Seattle federal court, the actress says that Amazon added her birth date to her professional profile on its Internet Movie Database, a popular site for movie buffs and those in the film industry. The actress claims that she did not list her age on her profile but that IMDb, which is wholly owned by Amazon, added it all the same. She claims the company discovered her age by intercepting her credit-card information without permission when she purchased an “industry insider” upgrade in the hopes of getting more work.
The actress, who uses an Americanized stage name to avoid the “cultural disadvantage” of her real Asian name, says that the credit-card interception is the only way the company could have learned her real age. She says IMDb refuses to remove her birth date from her profile and that she has since lost work because “lesser-known 40-year-old actresses are not in demand in the movie business.”
The actress says that Amazon’s conduct amounts to fraud and breach of contract in light of an IMDb subscriber agreement that promises credit-card information will be encrypted and that Amazon will handle personal information “carefully and sensibly.” The lawsuit, which seeks $75,000 plus $1 million in punitive damages, also says Amazon breached the state of Washington’s privacy and consumer protection laws.
This is not the first time that Amazon has been sued for allegedly revealing personal details about an actress. Eriko Tamuro, a Los Angeles woman was once a Britney Spears-like teen idol in Tokyo, settled a lawsuit with IMDb in 2007 after the site posted her real name and birth date.
Amazon’s privacy practices have come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks since the company launched the Kindle Fire, a tablet device that uses a new type of data-storing browser that makes it quicker for consumers to surf websites and shop online. Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-MA) last week sent an open letter to Amazon’s CEO comparing the tablet to Orwell’s Big Brother and requesting information about the company’s plans to safeguard consumer information.
Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment about the lawsuit, which was first reported via Twitter by law professor Eric Goldman.
It’s Huang Hoang, aka Junie Hoang! Source: The Hollywood Reporter
Junie Hoang just lost her lawsuit against IMDB, which she sued for revealing her age.
While Hoang may not be a household name, IMDB’s win will certainly have an impact on many actors in a very age-sensitive and youth-oriented industry.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
IMDb Wins Lawsuit Against Actress Suing Over Age Revelation
Huong Hoang sued IMDb after her age was revealed, which she says cost her jobs in an entertainment industry where perception matters.
On Thursday, a jury in Seattle handed a loss to Huong Hoang, the actress suing IMDb for revealing her age.
The verdict in favor of IMDb came after a trial earlier this week that lasted just over two days. In bringing the lawsuit, Hoang was determined to make a point about how IMDb’s publication of her birthdate had caused her harm. As Hoang said in the complaint that she filed in federal court in October, 2011, “In the entertainment industry, youth is king.”
That might be true, but a jury has determined today that IMDb hasn’t breached any legal obligations to the 42-year-old actress.
Originally, Hoang anonymously brought a $1 million claim and asserted all sorts of violations on IMDb’s part including fraud, privacy, and disregard of a consumer protection law.
Later, after a judge forced her to reveal herself, the claims were pared to just focus on whether IMDb had breached a user agreement with the actress, who is professionally known as Junie Hoang and who has had roles in Fifth Ward, A Gang Land Love Story and Ungirlfriendable.
During the midst of litigation, Hoang’s lead attorney died and her new lawyers attempted to expand the case to showcase other actors who had allegedly been hurt by IMDb’s policy of putting dates of birth on profile pages. She was supported by the Screen Actors Guild, and many other actors rallied to her cause. Hoang also made an issue of how IMDb had allegedly used credit information when she signed up to IMDb’s Pro account and how IMDb’s employees used a third party verification website to gain information to use in her profile.
IMDb, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, called Hoang “selfish,” saying that she shouldn’t be allowed to exploit the courts to perpetuate misinformation about her age. At trial, Hoang was forced to answer many tough questions about her own attempts to deceive IMDb into changing or removing her age. The case gathered attention at the highest ranks at Amazon.com. One of the spectators attending the Seattle trial was Amazon’s general counsel.
Both sides had competing visions about what the trial represented.
For Hoang, it was about “perception, your age, how you look,” according to comments she made on the witness stand. Her lawyer, Derek Newman, presented the case on why detrimental information on an IMDb profile can result in the loss of acting jobs.
For IMDb, it was about a “search for truth,” according to its lawyer, Harry Schneider. The website believed that it had the right to present accurate information.
No telling what exactly was discussed during the jury’s deliberations, but IMDb’s arguments ended up prevailing.
Congratulations to Dreamy Velvet, who was first with the correct answer!