In light of yesterday’s news that a 40-year-old actress has filed a million-dollar lawsuit against Amazon and its subsidiary the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) for revealing her age, we reached out to several leading privacy attornies for their opinion on whether the headline-grabbing case has a chance in court. Los Angeles-based attorney Jeffrey S. Kravitz and Michael J. Feldman of New Jersey considered the facts of the case and both concluded the suit is inherently problematic. Plaintiff Jane Doe is “going to have a very tough road to hoe,” Kravitz said, whose firm Fox Rothschild has no involvement in the suit.
Kravitz, whose clients have included celebrities ranging from Rosanne Cash to Real Housewives cast members, also found Texas-based Doe’s decision to file the suit in the town where Amazon has its headquarters especially problematic. “It’s going to be an uphill fight, particularly in Seattle,” he said. “It’s a little bit like suing Disney in Orange County. She should have filed in Texas.”
Making the case even less promising, Feldman thinks the $1 million price tag on Doe’s suit is unreasonable: “She will have an extremely difficult time proving damages under the facts alleged.” Added Feldman, a founding member of privacy and data protection consulting firm Acentris: “Even if IMDb is at fault, damages are limited to the total amount [she] paid” as an IMDbPro subscriber.
Kravitz admitted it’s still a risk for anyone to use a public venue like IMDb for self-promotion, as this actress did. “As a society, we’re still struggling with those issues as to what remains private when you choose a forum that remains open 24-7 to the whole world,” he acknowledged. “It’s always a question of whether law follows society or society follows law. We still have a long way to go with new technology before we work out these rules.”