SAG-AFTRA is doubling down on its defense of a new California law that makes it illegal for the entertainment news site IMDbPro to publish actors’ ages. The union was the driving force behind the law, which attempts to address ageism in the film and TV industry.
Last week, IMDb filed a federal lawsuit against California Attorney General Kamala Harris seeking an injunction to stop enforcement of AB 1687, which went into effect January 1. Today, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris accused IMDb of being in “open violation of the law.” The union’s attorneys, she said, “are evaluating legal action against IMDb in addition to our defense of AB 1687 in federal court.”
The bill, authored by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, was narrowly crafted to apply only to “commercial online entertainment employment providers” that charge a “subscribers” fee, as does IMDbPro. Online publications such as Deadline Hollywood and Variety, which can be viewed for free, are not subject to the law.
In its suit against Harris (read it here), IMDb said: “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. 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. AB 1687 targets IMDb in a way that restricts speech without advancing, let alone accomplishing, the law’s declared purpose; as such, it violates the First Amendment.”
Carteris, however, says that Harris “has the legal responsibility to defend the law” and that the union “will be actively participating in defending the law and in making sure the courts understand the damage being done by IMDb’s insistence on making performers’ dates of birth available to casting decision makers.”
She adds: “While we had hoped IMDb would choose to abandon its stubborn insistence on damaging performers’ careers by forcing age information on casting personnel, SAG-AFTRA remains fully committed to seeing an end to this practice. This is an effort that has been years in the making and that may take more time before it’s done. We will defend this law and see it enforced as well as taking whatever other steps are necessary to achieve that goal.”
The federal courts, however, will decide if the law is constitutional.