The Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA issued a press release Thursday, denouncing IMDb and its owner Amazon.com for IMDb’s practice of revealing the ages of performers without their consent. The organizations claim the practice has led to shrinking work options and age-discrimination for actors. According to the release, SAG, AFTRA, and other entertainment unions had been negotiating with IMDb to reach a solution, but IMDb has since rejected their efforts.
“Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists strongly believe that businesses like IMDb have a moral and legal obligation not to facilitate age discrimination in employment,” said the guilds. “Entertainment industry employers who would never directly ask a potential employee’s age routinely access that information through IMDb and its professional subscription site IMDbPro. IMDb has the power to remove the temptation for employers to engage in age discrimination by accessing this information.”
The statement comes two weeks after a lawsuit an unnamed Texas-based actress filed against IMDb claiming that IMDb’s “malicious, intentional, oppressive, outrageous” and “callous” unwillingness to take down her real age have hurt her livelihood. The Jane Doe, 40, is seeking $75,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in punitive damages, plus attorney’s fees.
According to the guilds, her case is not uncommon. “IMDb publishes the actual dates of birth of thousands of actors without their consent, most of them not celebrities but rank-and-file actors whose names are unknown to the general public,” they said. “When their actual ages then become known to casting personnel, the 10+ year age range that many of them can portray suddenly shrinks, and so do their opportunities to work.”
To rectify the situation, the guilds are asking that IMDb change their privacy policies: “It is time for IMDb to step up and take responsibility for the harm it has caused, and to take appropriate measures to protect entertainment industry workers, including actors, from losing jobs for the enhancement of IMDb’s financial statements.”
EW was unable to reach IMDb for comment.