SEATTLE—Frivolous and selfish is how lawyers for Amazon.com describe a lawsuit brought by an actress upset that her advanced age -- 40 -- was revealed on an Internet database.
The company, along with its Internet Movie Database, asked a federal judge last week to dismiss the million-dollar complaint brought by the woman, who identified herself only as Jane Doe, a Texas resident of Asian descent.
The woman claimed that soon after she signed up for a subscription service called IMDb Pro, her birthdate appeared on her profile on the database -- and her offers for roles dropped sharply. She alleged that Amazon and IMDb had used her credit card information to glean her birthdate, which she had always tried to keep a secret because she looks so much younger than she is.
The case prompted discussions about ageism in Hollywood -- as well as rampant online speculation about who the actress might be. But in its two motions to dismiss the case, Amazon and IMDb argued that it's about something else: "the perpetration of fraud."
"Plaintiff's attempt to manipulate the federal court system so she can censor IMDb.com's display of her birthdate and pretend to the world that she is not 40 years old is selfish, contrary to the public interest and a frivolous abuse of this court's resources," they wrote.
The actress claimed that she had always been careful about keeping her given name and birthdate confidential. As an unknown, she used an Americanized stage name in 2003 when she first listed herself on imdb.com, a listing which she said brought her several jobs, and her real name was not publicly known, she said.
"If one is perceived to be `over-the-hill,' i.e., approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress, such as the plaintiff, to get work as she is thought to have less of an `upside,'" her claim said.
She argued that she never consented to having the personal information she provided used for anything but the commercial transaction. IMDb refused to remove the reference to the woman's age from her profile when asked, the lawsuit said.
IMDb agreed that it had refused to remove her birthdate -- and noted in asking the judge to dismiss the case that the actress had also requested that the company falsify her age on the website.
The actress is seeking $1 million or more in punitive damages as well as $75,000 or more in compensatory damages. She accuses Amazon and IMDb of breach of contract, fraud and violation of privacy and consumer protection laws.