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1 years

IMDb Wins Lawsuit Over Actress Age Revelation

Huong Hoang sued IMDb after her age was revealed, which she says cost her jobs in an entertainment industry where perception matters.

Huong Junie Hoang Headshot - P 2012

On Thursday, a jury in Seattle handed a loss to Huong Hoang, the actress suing IMDb for revealing her age.

The verdict in favor of IMDb came after a trial earlier this week that lasted just over two days. In bringing the lawsuit, Hoang was determined to make a point about how IMDb's publication of her birth date had caused her harm. As Hoang said in the complaint that she filed in federal court in October 2011, "In the entertainment industry, youth is king."

That might be true, but a jury has determined today that IMDb hasn't breached any legal obligations to the 42-year-old actress.

Originally, Hoang anonymously brought a $1 million claim and asserted all sorts of violations on IMDb's part including fraud, privacy and disregard of a consumer protection law.

Later, after a judge forced her to reveal herself, the claims were pared to just focus on whether IMDb had breached a user agreement with the actress, who is professionally known as Junie Hoang and who has had roles in Fifth Ward, A Gang Land Love Story and Ungirlfriendable.

During the midst of litigation, Hoang's lead attorney died and her new lawyers attempted to expand the case to showcase other actors who had allegedly been hurt by IMDb's policy of putting dates of birth on profile pages. She was supported by the Screen Actors Guild, and many other actors rallied to her cause. Hoang also made an issue of how IMDb had allegedly used credit information when she signed up to IMDb's Pro account and how IMDb's employees used a third party verification website to gain information to use in her profile.

IMDb, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, called Hoang "selfish," saying that she shouldn't be allowed to exploit the courts to perpetuate misinformation about her age. At trial, Hoang was forced to answer many tough questions about her own attempts to deceive IMDb into changing or removing her age. The case gathered attention at the highest ranks at Amazon.com. One of the spectators attending the Seattle trial was Amazon's general counsel.

Both sides had competing visions about what the trial represented.

For Hoang, it was about "perception, your age, how you look," according to comments she made on the witness stand. Her lawyer, Derek Newman, presented the case on why detrimental information on an IMDb profile can result in the loss of acting jobs.

For IMDb, it was about a "search for truth," according to its lawyer, Harry Schneider. The website believed that it had the right to present accurate information.

No telling what exactly was discussed during the jury's deliberations, but IMDb's arguments ended up prevailing.

Venkat Balasubramani contributed to this report.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner