Thursday, March 29, 2007

Actress sues IMDB for publishing her name and birth date

Head over to Dvorak for more:


A Japanese actress is stretching privacy law too far by claiming that the danger of harassment by “aggressive and overzealous fans” makes the Internet Movie Database liable for publishing her real name and date of birth.

Eriko Tamura, who now lives in Los Angeles, sued IMDB this month under the tort of public disclosure of private facts, which is in tension with the First Amendment because it involves the publication of truthful information. The published material must be of a kind that is “highly offensive to a reasonable person” and “not of legitimate concern to the public.”

On its much-trafficked Web site, IMDB has posted an entry for Eriko Sakamoto, Tamura’s real name, and also gives her date of birth in the separate entry for Eriko Tamura. Neither of the entries identifies Sakamoto and Tamura as the same person.

But in her complaint, Tamura alleges those facts are private and she has kept them “completely private” because they could be used by “third parties to track down her residence.” Before moving to L.A. to pursue an acting career, she was a teen-idol pop star in Japan who was compared to Britney Spears.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

well, it is not too much of a stretch to say that IMDB causes age discrimination to actors/actresses whose dates of births are posted without their consent. As well, MANY of the IMDB information is extremely incorrect, yet EMPLOYERS in Hollywood and/or independent producers use IMDB as a casting site for hiring actors.

IMDB should be sued in a class action lawsuit for causing age discrimination ... no employer is allowed to ask your age - yet IMDB freely posts any actors/director/writer, etc. date of birth without impunity.

Jean-Denis Haas said...

They are not allowed to even ask?

jxsilicon9 said...

First of all IMDB isn't an employer.I doubt IMDB causes any discrimination since things like actors ages are freely available all over the web. And any information available to the public isn't an invasion of privacy. For example a phone number in a phone book. This is a frivolous lawsuit by some moron.

Sheree said...

I think Eriko Tamura or Eriko Sakamoto (real name) is overly paranoid. I am a waitress and I use to see her come into a restaurant in Los Feliz all the time with Stan Medley for about 5 years or so, they looked like they were intimate. We published that fact on her IMDB page under her discussion board which was asking for more information on her a couple of years ago and it was deleted very quickly.

Anonymous said...

I DEFINITELY agree with anonymous, re: the class action law suit. it's a miracle it hasn't already been done. IMDB can and has been terribly destructive to many careers, with incorrect information and information that the person would like to keep private. I for one can not get them to delete/change an incorrect birth date on my profile, no matter what i try. It has cost me so much work that I have lost my SAG insurance for the first time in over a dozen years. THEY DON'T CARE. and they are virtually impossible to contact directly. And you are right, IMDB may not be an employer, but the website is the industry standard for looking up info. If you are 28 years old and you play 23 year olds and IMDB posts that you are 35, YOU ARE DONE. period. Skeptics can roll their eyes, but it's a terrible thing to do to struggling actors. Sure, information floats around the internet, but most people assume that IMDB is full proof accurate, and it is the #1 go-to. I would love to see that change b/c they are not at all actor/artist friendly and they don't care if they unnecessary destroy someone's chances. There's no incentive for them at all, but that's how they roll. A very bad group of people.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with both of the Anonymous posts above. In response to Jean-Denis, age discrimination is illegal, which is why if you go to interview for a secretary position and HR asks you your age, they're breaking the law. It's the same thing for actors. When an actor to audition (a job interview) and a casting director, producer or network/studio executive asks that actor his/her age, they're breaking the law. Unfortunately, this still happens quite a bit as decision makers are either ignorant of the fact that it's illegal to ask or they don't care because they know most actors don't want to look evasive and thereby come across as difficult or defensive.

IMDb may not be employing actors, perse, but they're fully aware that it's become the de facto website for Film & TV casting directors and decision-makers. I personally know of several actors and actresses (not stars, mind you, working class actors) whose careers ground to a halt almost overnight once IMDb posted their ages (whether accurate or not). They facilitate age discrimination in an industry which is driven by perception.

I'm not familiar with Eriko, but her plight and frustrations are the same as those of hundreds, if not thousands of professional actors in the earlier and mid levels of their careers. Don't believe me? Ask almost any working actor in Los Angeles how they feel about IMDb posting their ages without their consent and you'll see.

For those who don't work in the industry, ask yourself this. How would you feel if your yahoo, msn or Facebook posted your birthdate, mother's maiden name and city of birth (all security questions for banks and credit cards, by the way) without your consent. Imagine that you requested/begged/pleaded with these websites to remove the sensitive information and they refused. How would you feel?

Exactly. IMDb should step up and work together with actors, writers, directors (yes, they face age discrimination too) and find a happy medium whereby each individual has the option of removing sensitive information.

Jean-Denis Haas said...

Thanks for the comments. That situation really sucks.

Anonymous said...

I am extremely surprised that a class-action suit hasn't been filed against IMDb. There is lots of false biographical information that someone I know (a former friend as it turns out who thought it would be a funny prank) posted about me. I'm talking information that is completely untrue and I have been contacting them to try and have it removed as it has cost me jobs. Either I get no response or when I contact the help desk I get an automated response that doesn't address my questions. The automated response says something along the lines of how the IMDb prides themselves to be an online source of accurate information and therefore will not remove said information. Even thought my query did mention that the information was incorrect I guess that didn't enter into it.

I think the IMDb has done a lot of good things for the film industry and as far as film credits go, they are correct in controlling that aspect of the site. No talent should be allowed to only list the films they prefer, however I think for any/all biographical information, the individual should have the right to exclusively control what is posted as the site should focus more on accurate credit listings and less on unsubstantiated gossip. And yes it is impossible to contact them directly.

By the way almost every actor and filmmaker I've ever asked, despise the IMDb and I think its dissappointing that such a rift exists between the IMDb and the people that make the site possible. At least with a website like Wikipedia, you need to reference everything that you write or they soon delete it themselves. I think IMDb should just focus on film credits and drop the biographical aspect of the site.

Anonymous said...

It's absolutely sad that IMDB (aka: amazon.com) can just continue to ruin people's lives. I am surprised someone hasn't done WORSE than a lawsuit. I have had many arguments over this stupid website. Personally, I feel that you should be able to remove your name from the POS site, all together, if you want to. Some idiot compared the listings on IMDB to that of a phone book! When's the last time you saw a PHONE BOOK? Anyhow, NO. It is nothing LIKE A PHONE BOOK. They do not care about the affect that their wanker shit-site has on people's lives. If you were a Fucking TOPLESS Alien *Uncredited* on PIZZA DELIVERY #5, and you do not wish that information to be listed, you should be able to remove it! ANY OTHER website will do this (remove things) if you write to them and tell them they've made an error. It's shit that actors get treated like garbage. This is too much power for a fucking site about MOVIES to have over people's lives. I wish someone would hack it to bits!

Anonymous said...

Apparently someone will have to suffer serious harm to propagate any change with this disgusting, recalcitrant website. They make it simple to hunt down actors and harm them, by publishing personal information such as birth place, birth date, real name, etc. on this site. Maybe when someone gets shot and the killer cites this site as the source of the information, they'll realize what they've actually done. Peoples' careers HAVE been utterly destroyed by this disgusting website, who are making millions of dollars off of the very people they are harming. It really only takes one angry litigator to prove loss of work and damage to cripple or utterly destroy this site. I hope it's soon. Hey, maybe it's already in the works, you never know...

davelca said...

Since everyone is 'anonymous' could they all be the same person? Birth records are public information. If you feel that you work in an industry that regularly violkates your right to keep your age a secret perhaps you should get a real job.

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