In a move hailed by SAG-AFTRA as a major advance for working actors, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill today that will require IMDb Pro to remove the ages of actors and others listed on the site if asked by them to do so. The bill was pushed by SAG-AFTRA as a way to combat age discrimination, but is almost certain to face a First Amendment challenge.
The bill was narrowly crafted to apply only to “commercial online entertainment employment providers” that charge a “subscribers” fee, as does IMDb Pro. Online publications such as Deadline Hollywood, The Wrap and Variety – which can be viewed for free – are not subject to the law.
“Age discrimination is a major problem in our industry,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said on the union’s website. “SAG-AFTRA has been working hard for years to stop the career damage caused by the publication of performers’ dates of birth on online subscription websites used for casting like IMDb…Currently, many websites used for casting proactively present birthdates and ages to casting decision makers who often can’t avoid seeing this information even if they try. That’s wrong for performers, just like it’s wrong for all employees.”
In a statement released today after the bill was signed into law, Carteris said further that “SAG-AFTRA has been working hard for years to stop the career damage caused by the publication of performers’ dates of birth on online subscription websites used for casting like IMDb and StudioSystem. Currently, many websites used for casting proactively present birth dates and ages to casting decision makers who often can’t avoid seeing this information even if they try. This law will help improve the working lives of all SAG-AFTRA members and aspiring performers.”
“Even though it is against both federal and state law, age discrimination persists in the entertainment industry,” stated Assembly majority leader Ian Calderon, who authored the bill. “Unfortunately, it is common practice for casting directors and producers to use web sites such as IMDb and IMDb Pro to access information about actors, which can contain age information that should not be part of the casting decision.”
IMDb could get around the law by simply canceling the IMDb Pro contract of those who don’t want their ages listed on the site, because the law does not apply to free sites like IMDb.