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ADA May Force Netflix To Provide Closed Captioning On Content 694

Posted by Soulskill
from the information-neutrality dept.
Shivetya writes "Last year Netflix was sued by the National Association for the Deaf for failing to provide closed captioned text through its on-demand streaming service. Now, a judge has denied Netflix's attempt to have the suit thrown out, saying that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in any venue — not just physical structures. The easiest means to comply would be to remove all videos which do not have a closed captioning component, the other route would require Netflix to pay to have this done to any video it wants to provide. The implications to other providers is immense as well. The plaintiffs will still need to prove that Netflix is legally obligated to provide closed-captioning, but the ruling is still significant for recognizing that Internet sites may fall under the purview of the Americans with Disabilities Act."
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ADA May Force Netflix To Provide Closed Captioning On Content

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  • Mixed feelings (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:03PM (#40460629)

    On one hand this sucks. The amount of revenue you bring in by making your content accessible is not going to pay the cost of doing so. Same can be said with making websites accessible to the blind (and really probably most brick n’ mortar establishments.. especially if retrofit).

    On the other hand that’s part of living in a civilized society. Most of us could easily by freak accident be in a position where we’d want these services... and doing non-profitable stuff like this just becomes another cost of business.

    The implications on other content and especially user supplied content where no/very little revenue is being generated are of course the most scary. Where do you (or do you) draw the line between content that is “real” enough to require closed captioning (commercial productions, movies, etc..), and content that doesn’t (videos taken on cell phones, etc..).

    The obvious answer would be monetization. If the video author isn’t getting money, the requirement goes away. But trying to turn that into a concrete policy becomes very mucky, as sites like youtube are profiting from it either directly from ad revenue, or indirectly through increased traffic/draw to their site.

    • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ganjadude (952775) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:09PM (#40460681) Homepage
      well we could take it to the next logical step, What about blind people? we need to make sure blind people can access the internet and "watch" their videos as well!

      I am all for "fair access" but if the CC was not made available by the content maker, than how is it netflixes fault for not having them? Shouldnt the judge be charging the movie maker for not providing CC to begin with??
      • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:13PM (#40460729)

        Some channels actually have "descriptive audio" here. It's actually exactly what it sounds like. A voice describes what is happening, overlaid onto the audio. Once in a while I'll turn it on and try watching something with my eyes closed.. surprisingly for stuff that's heavily dialog driven, it works surprisingly well.

        • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:22PM (#40460815)

          Some channels actually have "descriptive audio" here. It's actually exactly what it sounds like. A voice describes what is happening, overlaid onto the audio. Once in a while I'll turn it on and try watching something with my eyes closed.. surprisingly for stuff that's heavily dialog driven, it works surprisingly well.

          Once upon a time, those were called radio shows.

          • by westlake (615356)

            Once upon a time, those were called radio shows.

            Not true.

            Radio drama set the stage and carried the action through the use of dialog, music and sound effects.

            Producers of a series might use a popular host to frame their stories, much as Hitchcock and Rod Serling did in television. But the intrusion of an omniscient narrator within a story carries the listener out of the story. That is why the best never used them: "Gunsmoke" is a particularly good example.

        • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:46PM (#40461109) Journal

          From the DVS track for Basic Instinct

          Correli unconsciously licks his lips.
          She leans forward with an eager smile.

          Nick Curran glances up from his notepad.
          Correli eyes him curiously.
          With a saucy gaze, Catherine uncrosses
                    her thighs.
          She briefly exposes her pubic hair
          then recrosses her legs.

          Basic Instinct Poems [canopycanopycanopy.com]

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Teresita (982888)
          Some channels actually have "descriptive audio" here. It's actually exactly what it sounds like.

          That would be hilarious. I would really like to hear some narrator attempting to describe Eraserhead.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Woldscum (1267136)

        I am blind in one eye from childhood. I can not see anything in 3D. If a movie theater shows a 3D move must they also provide the same movie in 2D?

      • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SJHillman (1966756) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:46PM (#40461097)

        I'm half deaf and only watch videos on Netflix with closed captioning, but I'm on Netflix's side on this one. They provide no essential services, not even news or weather, and the only educational stuff tends to already have CC anyway. What's next, all porn is required to have CC?

      • by russotto (537200)

        well we could take it to the next logical step, What about blind people? we need to make sure blind people can access the internet and "watch" their videos as well!

        They've already proposed that as well.

      • I am all for "fair access" but if the CC was not made available by the content maker, than how is it netflixes fault for not having them?

        May be, they did provide them, after all they're already providing them to Netflix on DVDs.

        And the studios themselves certainly don't do the encoding for Netflix, Netflix does the encoding for itself (and my guess, Hulu does as well). The resulting streams coming from a studio's web site are vastly different from the streams coming from sites like Netflix, or Hulu.

    • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:13PM (#40460727) Homepage

      "On one hand this sucks. The amount of revenue you bring in by making your content accessible is not going to pay the cost of doing so."

      HUH? The Subtitles are on the DVD's they are ripping to create their content. It costs them nothing to send a fricking text stream.

      • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:15PM (#40460745)

        Knowing the fucked up way media licensing works, they probably have to license the subtitle data seperately or something (see also: theme music).

      • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:32PM (#40460949)
        They're not ripping DVDs. They're purchasing content from digital distribution houses such as Funimation, Weinstein, Dreamworks, Starz (well at least used to), etc.. The content provider would have to make the subtitles available to Netflix to push onto the stream. If they don't/won't then Netflix would be on the hook if they are legally recognized as a "multi-channel video programming distributor [fcc.gov]".
        • Re:Mixed feelings (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:49PM (#40461159) Journal

          At which point Netflix would then be obligated to refuse to provide those pieces of content until the creators provide the subtitles, at which point the creators would be forced to provide the subtitles. More to the point, these rules would apply to all similar services, presumably, so if the content providers don't solve the problem, they'll lose most of their digital distribution.

          There is some flexibility allowed for providing content created prior to when the rules were adopted, so this doesn't require magically creating subtitles where none exist (unless they can't manage to strike a balance where at least 75% of their pre-rule content contains subtitles).

          This doesn't suck at all. This is the law working exactly as it is supposed to work, doing exactly what it was intended to do. Now if we were talking about YouTube being forced to provide subtitles, that would be another matter....

      • by fluffy99 (870997)

        "On one hand this sucks. The amount of revenue you bring in by making your content accessible is not going to pay the cost of doing so."

        HUH? The Subtitles are on the DVD's they are ripping to create their content. It costs them nothing to send a fricking text stream.

        Netflix didn't always have the ability to stream the CC information. They do now, and most of the newer hardware players actually support it, which is why Netflix is adding the captions for new stuff. They issue is that they are demanding that Netflix go back and and reprocess all the existing videos for which they might not even have the data. That does cost them money, and the will not see any change in their subscription revenue for that effort.

        It's akin to going to the library and bitching that not a

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      The amount of revenue you bring in by making your content accessible is not going to pay the cost of doing so.

      I doubt the very few programs left without some form of closed-captioning or subtitles amounts to all that much.

      The value of having this material available to people with hearing disability is very large.

      Netflix is a very inexpensive service for what you get. If they charge everyone 25 cents more per month, I doubt they would lose one customer, and it would probably pay for the cost of providing cl

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:04PM (#40460637)

    Quite seriously, is that normal in the US that every program needs to have CC or are TV networks trying to push the competition out of business? Just asking...

    Another question, does it say anything about the quality of the CC? I mean, how expensive could it be to have some Chinese or NKor people create yet another Backstroke of the West style CC?

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:08PM (#40460675)

      I can't figure out how the Congress has power to regulate private businesses and impose the ADA. Maybe it's through the corporate licensing.
      Anyway:
      Yes the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled long-ago that broadcast TV must carry closed captioning. Then they extended it to cable TV (by what authority I have no idea). Including captioning on netflix really isn't a big deal..... it's encoded in the video steams of VHS tapes, DVDs, and Blurays so netflix just needs to dump that CC to the internet stream.

      • by TheSync (5291)

        I can't figure out how the Congress has power to regulate private businesses and impose the ADA

        The Constitution of the US, Article I, Section 8, Clause 3:[2] "[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes;"

        • by cpu6502 (1960974)

          Read more carefully the clause you quoted. It says AMONG the states. Not inside a state. For example Congress has zero authority to force me to replace the stairs into my office with a ramp (only the Maryland legislature can do that).

          • by Golddess (1361003)

            It says AMONG the states. Not inside a state.

            Netflix is headquartered in Maryland?

            In all honesty, I don't know what criteria is used to determine whether a corporation's actions fall under the commerce clause. But going by the location of their headquarters vs the location of their customers at least seems to make more sense than Wickard v. Filburn [wikipedia.org].

      • by Dahamma (304068) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @10:33PM (#40462193)

        Damn, I swear you are now my textbook example for http://xkcd.com/386/ [xkcd.com] .

        Cable is regulated because it's not all a local coax - much of the system is distributed over satellite, etc, which the FCC regulates.

        VHS uses line 21 VBI CC (ie just analog NTSC 480i and totally irrelevant), DVD uses bitmap images (a horrible format for streaming, and those are subtitles not closed captions anyway), and BD subtitles are way overcomplicated for streaming use. And that's all beside the point, since Netflix doesn't get their streaming from any of those, they get MPEG files from the content providers. Now they are going to have to go get CC/subtitle info from all of those providers in a big clusterfuck of content management.

        Given companies like Netflix already have literally 100's of thousands of encoded and encrypted streams already on CDNs, they can't just "dump" anything to a stream. They will all be coming up with ways (some standard most somewhat proprietary) of taking CC from the content providers, sending it as separate requests (likely HTTP) and displaying it on devices. And given the FCC is basically requiring CEA-708 feature set compliance (along with the fact these services are on dozens or hundreds of devices with vastly different software), that's going to be a shit-ton of work.

    • by TheSync (5291)

      In general, as of January 1, 2006, all "new" English language programming, defined as analog programming first published or exhibited on or after January 1, 1998, and digital programming first aired on or after July 1, 2002, must be captioned by US broadcasters (with some exceptions.)

      The FCC has issued Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on quality of Closed Captions, but as far as I know there are no formal FCC rules for quality yet, except for requiring broadcasters to provide contact information for reporting

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      This is complete non-news, really. The ADA isn't forcing anything directly - ie, yes, the ADA lawsuit is largely irrelevant, if Netflix wants to avoid this they need to sue the FCC. Though in general I have no idea why the ADA would bother with this silly lawsuit around the Americans With Disabilities Act when this is already covered by the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act [govtrack.us].

      The FCC ruled months ago that Internet content would be required to support closed captions, they have a whole

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:07PM (#40460667)

    Used to have a deaf roommate who was big into "deaf culture" (and was very annoying about it). We're talking Malcolm X militant about it. He wasn't alone either. There are a lot of people into deaf rights who think it should be illegal to air or play anything non-CC'ed. And they *will* sue.

    Great for them, not so great for the rest of us who get cut off from all non-CC'ed content. And getting something CC'ed is pretty expensive--prohibitively so for a lot of indies.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>not so great for the rest of us who get cut off from all non-CC'ed content.

      I've seen lots of non-Captioned content over broadcast TV (channels: thisTV, retroTV, antennaTV). The owner only has to broadcast CC if it's available, but if it's an old or obscure movie/show that doesn't have CC, they can still send it out for the enjoyment of hearing folk.

      • "As of January 1, 2008, 75 percent of “pre-rule” English language programming, defined as analog programming first shown before January 1, 1998, and digital programming first shown before July 1, 2002, must be captioned, with some exceptions."

        citation:http://transition.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/closedcaption.pdf

    • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:17PM (#40460761)

      Deaf "Culture" will be gone in a generation.

      The vast majority of children born deaf are receiving cochlear implants before the nerves degrade. This is rapidly degrading the number of deaf children. Over the long term I fully expect enrollment in deaf schools and existence of deaf culture to disappear with the only remaining deaf people being those that were afflicted by the condition later in life. Though even that is not certain, it takes several years of hearing loss before the nerves die and the body re-purposes resources so anyone that is caused to go deaf later in life will probably receive cochlear implants as well. As the technology of cochlear implants improves there will be more and more outlying cases where people are given implants.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:24PM (#40460849)

        And, believe or not, there's actually a movement against that. There are deaf people that want deaf children, and want them to remain deaf. I'm a type 1 diabetic, and I can't imagine forcing that on a child. It makes like a pain in the butt.

        • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:28PM (#40460887)

          Oh yeah, my roomie regarded those implants as the enemy, and any deaf person who supported them as a traitor.

          • Yeah, I came into contact with a lot of those folks at RIT / NTID. Having lost my hearing the year before I attended RIT, that whole "mindset" kind-of bugged me; still does. It ain't "culture": it's a fucking disability, and it's nothing to celebrate, let alone perpetuate. Like employers are going to respect that "culture" when you go for a job interview. Like your infant is going to respect that culture when he's crying at night and you can't hear him. Like the cops are going to respect that culture w
        • by rahvin112 (446269)

          Yes, I've read about them.

          Personally I think it's child abuse to deny a baby born deaf a cochlear implant for a stupid reason like "deaf culture" (if there is a legitimate medical reason thats a valid reason). If for no other reason (and there are a LOT of other reasons) loss of hearing is a serious safety issue.

          • by bornagainpenguin (1209106) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @11:33PM (#40462817)

            I think it's child abuse to deny a baby born deaf a cochlear implant

            No, what is child abuse is using the misfortune of someone's child being born with a hearing impairment to excuse human experimentation on infants with dubious real world results.

            I'm not a Deaf militant, but I am hard of hearing since childhood and have participated in the Deaf community and use sign language, so I know a little bit about this stuff because it involves me and those like me. I find the saddest thing has always been the way the families involved and the children diagnosed with it are treated. The second saddest thing is how many people who spout off about the issue do so from a position of ignorance and emotion, not facts.

            The fact is that cochlear implants are a dangerous gamble, one that rarely pays off as much as those who subject others to it expect. It requires drilling into the skull to place a piece of hardware in the head, one that still requires the use of an external aid to function. There are heightened risks of meningitis, nerve damage, necrosis of the cochlear implant skin flaps...none of which are really explained to parents before hand. Instead all parents of Deaf children hear is that there is a surgery that can "fix" their children.

            Worse, the recommendation is that the surgery be done at an early age because there is a limited window to get some form of language to the brain. The problem is that proponents of the surgery often advise against the children also learning sign language because it would interfere with them learning to process sounds. This is where the biggest gamble of all takes place--if the child doesn't properly learn to process the signals as sounds, they are effectively retarded in their development.

            By contrast sign language has shown to allow communication and build cognitive function at preverbal ages!

            That is why so many Deaf people get so militant about the issue!

      • Those implants aren't for everybody. I have a service connected atilliary notch in my hearing, both ears. It's bad enough that I need hearing aids, and Closed Captions are a great help, but it's nowhere near bad enough for implants to be considered. (My disability rating is 0%; enough to get me free hearing aids, but not enough for compensation.) I don't currently use Netflix, but if I did, I'd prefer having captions whenever possible.
    • My girlfriend is on the road to becoming completely deaf and we have a hard time attending movie theaters, due to her not being able to hear most of the audio in movies. Usually, we just sit away from everyone(or do our best to) and I will put my mouth very close to her better ear and relay the important parts she misses. It is difficult, but we would never dream of forcing movie theaters to provided closed captioning on all movies. Of course, there has been a recent change that has made movies more enjo

  • Youtube? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 24-bit Voxel (672674) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:08PM (#40460677) Journal

    Would this include YouTube?

  • by _8553454222834292266 (2576047) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:09PM (#40460683)

    Netflix will need to mail a Braille transcript.

  • Serious question: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gcnaddict (841664) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:09PM (#40460687)
    What if Netflix doesn't consider the deaf to be its target audience and specifically indicates this fact? Why can a private service which requires people to pay before viewing content be forced to accommodate people who may not be their target market?

    By this same token, a duochrome-colorblind person can petition for color-adjusted films. A blind person can request a specific voice feed that describes the actions of the characters in a film, and so forth. Why not just let some other service create closed captions for deaf viewers to subscribe to?
    • by Sancho (17056) *

      Why can a private service which requires people to pay before viewing content be forced to accommodate people who may not be their target market?

      The same reason Congress can enact nearly any law--interstate commerce.

    • What if Netflix doesn't consider the deaf to be its target audience and specifically indicates this fact?

      The legislation makes it clear that businesses aren't given a choice. There are multiple laws that prohibit discrimination in general.

    • by spire3661 (1038968) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:37PM (#40461003) Journal
      Becasue we as a society have determined that private enterprise can only exist at our discretion. Part of that discretion is making sure if you are open to the public, that you make reasonable accommodations for differently-abled. We then pretty clearly spelled out what those obligations are. If you open a business without factoring in these responsibilities, then i do not feel sorry for you if your model fails.
    • Re:Serious question: (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Trecares (416205) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:58PM (#40461241)

      Because just like broadcast television, they are sufficiently large enough to cover the costs associated with captioning the content. Netflix does have some content that is captioned on their streaming service, but frankly it's mostly a joke.

      I am not sure what their process involves in acquiring the visual content that they stream. Netflix seem to have no difficulty in acquiring the audio tracks to stream along with the visual content. If Netflix is getting the content from the DVD's or whatever, it should be trivial enough to rip the subtitle / closed captioning tracks already present, sync it up and stream it as well. The physical DVD is captioned, yet the stream isn't. Netflix, along with a number of other content providers are basically saying, "Meh it's not worth our time to deal with it, so tough luck." Technically it should be trivial enough to do this but they are not. That's when the government usually has to step in. It's not so much a matter of preserving their profit, but doing the right thing and providing accessibility. Otherwise it's essentially tyranny of the majority.

      The main reason why this lawsuit is necessary is because many online streaming services are essentially doing nothing or a very poor job of providing captioned content. Hulu for example, has a limited selection of captioned content within their catalog. This would not be so bad if they were more conscientious about monitoring their content. Sometimes they do not caption a given episode out of a captioned series. Apparently they have to "receive" it from the content provider. They do not check to ensure that the file has been received each time and that it plays properly. I've had missing captioning, captioning that was out of sync, content that indicated it was captioned, but no captioning, content that does not indicate captioning, but had captioning. If this had been happening with a broadcast television station, they would have been hit with a bunch of fines. That's why broadcast stations have someone monitoring it to ensure quality and delivery of captioned content.

      Back to the point, streaming services are becoming more widespread, their catalog is expanding. They need to develop a scheme that simplifies handling and streaming of content such that captioning is automatically included and present from the content provider. That would ease the burden on Netflix, Hulu, and others. Netflix is the ideal target because they have one of the largest catalog of streaming content, and most of them were already captioned previously. In doing so, Netflix would have to sit down with the content providers and figure out a solution.

      Clearly not all content would feasibly be captioned. No reasonable court would enforce captioning on "private" or indie content unless aired over broadcast/cable. The burden on captioning needs to be shifted to the content creators. There are already standards that determines what content must be captioned and anything below that is at their discretion. It won't be easy I admit, but this needs to happen, and the sooner, the better.

    • by Krischi (61667)

      The movie theaters tried to make the same argument and were slapped down by the 9th Circuit. The judges essentially told them: "So, does this mean that a courthouse does not have to provide a wheelchair accessible ramp, because it is targeted only at people without a mobility impairment?" The largest three movie theater chains eventually settled because of this. WIth digital projection systems, the cost to equip a theater with closed-caption equipment is less than $2500.

    • Re:Serious question: (Score:4, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:51PM (#40461767) Homepage Journal
      A small private service can select a targat audience. A large corporation, of in the case of netflix a corporation controlled by public stock, much less so. As part of being in America, and profiting off the infrastructure paid for by the american taxpayer, there are some sacrifices to make. I suspect that Netflix would not survive long without a legal system that allowed it the right to rent legally purchased videos, or a postal system that provided the distribution network, or the labor laws that allow low wages.

      So, in a way, every taxpayer is a customer because every tax payer has helped build the infrastructure that allows a large corporation to exist. Hell, every one in the US pays a tax on their phone so rural people can have cheap communication. Tell me Netflix could be this big without such a tax.

  • by Eponymous Hero (2090636) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:12PM (#40460711)
    if this is about discrimination in any venue, then there are millions of porn sites and otherwise that are not ADA compliant.
    • Well at least it'd be pretty simple to CC those... "oooh,... yes! yes! oh god yes! harder baby, harder..." Could probably use the same generic one for them all.
  • Most of the videos on Netflix are movies or TV shows. Every movie I've seen since DVDs came out have subtitling on them, it should just be a matter of including that information in the streamed video (assuming Flash allows for displaying subtitles). Most TV shows are close-captioned already, again it should be just a matter of including the close-captioning information in the stream. There should only be a minority of content that isn't already ADA-compliant.

    • by Zaelath (2588189)

      Most of the content I've watched already has CC... to be honest this sounds more like you'll see some content pulled until the content providers supply CC.

      This is a wash for the deaf, they get no new content.

      The hearing lose.

      I'm all for them making some kind of "from now on" decision, but to kill off the back catalogue is nothing short of petty and vindictive.

    • by hsmith (818216)
      Should be easy to do

      Are you a project manager by chance?

      If it seems easy, it never is.
    • closed captioning didn't become "all tv's" and all programming until 1990
      Cite:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed_captioning#Legislative_development_in_the_U.S. [wikipedia.org]

      Netflix has 3035 videos from 1914 to 1989
      and 10,937 from 1990 to 2012
      pre 1998 videos total 4,440
      cite:instantwatchdb.com

      "As of January 1, 2008, 75 percent of “pre-rule” English language programming, defined as analog programming first shown before January 1, 1998, and digital programming first shown before July 1, 2002, must be captioned,

  • by sideslash (1865434) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:15PM (#40460743)
    There are a lot of people who would participate in typing up the CC track for movies, especially if it was allowed to be copied around for noncommercial use. Unfortunately, I seriously doubt that the MPAA would allow it, for the same reason they don't want you to rip your own DVD for backup purposes -- their policies are directed by lawyers whose priorities rarely overlap with what's good for consumers. If they could sue the IMDB project, they probably would.
  • As a deaf American, I am happy this is happening. It makes Netflix useful, and I'd like to see it expand to all online video. What excuse do CNN or Fox news online have NOT to captioning the video on their websites? Not a single one.

    As an American businessman, I can understand what a collosal pain in the ass it is for business... but it's not the fault of ME or any other deaf person that Netflix chose to ignore us.

    Would you use Netflix if all the movies and shows had no sound? Course not. There's no ex

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      This, I believe, its also horse feces. Is the sound a separate performance from the video?

      Yes!

      This is a huge problem for people trying to release old TV shows on DVD. They have to re-license the sound tracks. In a lot of cases, the cost either prevents them from releasing the DVD, or forces them to (at less cost) replace the audio with soundalike music (see: Married with Children).

  • Awesome. So does this mean that section 508 [access-board.gov] has to be extended to non-governmental entities, too? (Btw, /., you're in violation; I see at least two non-text elements without text equivalents while I'm typing on this page.)
  • by pkinetics (549289) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:26PM (#40460871)

    If NetFlix is required, then are theaters? What about YouTube? More importantly what about online porn?

    I'm so confused...

  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:27PM (#40460875) Journal
    Netflix cannot comply with the ADA in this case, because doing so would create a derivative work of the original, without the permission of the copyright holder.

    Simple as that.

    Now, whether or not Netflix still has to comply... Well, perhaps we can twist this to our own gain - Does the obligation to make their content "accessible" trump copyright? If so, you can bet your left nut I'll have a business model the very next day designed to exploit that fact.

    Your turn, courts - Punish us all to protect the weak, or give up your paternalistic attitude toward Big Media.
    • by westlake (615356)

      Netflix cannot comply with the ADA in this case, because doing so would create a derivative work of the original, without the permission of the copyright holder.

      Closed Captioning in the states was launched in 1980 with a set-top box distributed through the Sears, Roebuck catalog. The integrated decoder for analog receivers became mandatory on all sets sold or manufactured after July 1, 1993,

      Closed Captioning is 32 years old, people, and a striking example of how technology can enlarge and enrich the life of the disabled. Thirty years ago my father needed this tech, thirty years on, we both need this tech. It is only the geek that never ages.

      In our reply comments, PK explained why captioning a video is a ''fair use'' that does not qualify as copyright infringement under section 107 of the Copyright Act. Section 107 lists four factors that go into a fair use analysis, three of which favor captioning as a fair use. The nature of the copyrighted work (here, video programming) is probably highly creative, and so it enjoys a fair amount of copyright protection. However, captioning is a non-commercial use that is simply intended to make the programming accessible to individuals with disabilities, and to legally comply with the CVAA. Captioning uses as little of the copyrighted work as possible because it only conveys exactly what a person with a hearing disability would need to understand the video: the words being spoken. Finally, captioning actually has a positive effect upon the market value of the work for the copyright owner. When more people can access the programming, the audience for the video programming will grow. This is a perfect example of how the fair use doctrine serves the overall goal of copyright law: promoting the progress of art and knowledge.

      Even if captioning infringed copyright, the CVAA explicitly orders the FCC to âoerevise its regulations to require the provision of closed captioning on video programming delivered using Internet protocol....â If captioning does indeed violate copyright, then the FCC has statutory authority to create a limited exception to copyright protection for the purposes of implementing the CVAA. Copyright law is not a shield against all other legal obligations. The FCC has even reached this conclusion before, when it required cable companies to make copyright-protected programming available to competitors under the program access rules.

      Copyright Does Not T [publicknowledge.org]

    • There is a blanket exception to copyright to make things accessible. I does not so much trump copyright as the exception is written into the law. People make audio books for the blind daily. They do need to be part of on an authorized entity to do the conversion but that's not a very high barrier.

  • by WinstonWolfIT (1550079) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:39PM (#40461031)

    I used to be involved with ADA, and I believe the lawsuit will eventually fail. There are two components to ADA that they might go after, Telecommunications or Public Accommodation. However, The language of the law is pretty specific, and there's no way Netflix will fall under either of these categories. As many have already pointed out, Netflix losing would be a catastrophically slippery slope, and no court would initiate that without clear intent from Congress. Just because a case isn't summarily dismissed doesn't mean it will win, it simply means the judge believes it's worth hearing.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @08:46PM (#40461105) Homepage

    This is just a preliminary ruling. Netflix tried to have the suit dismissed, that didn't work, and now it gets tried on the merits.

    At some point, the ADA runs into the First Amendment, which prohibits "forced speech". (Broadcast TV is a special case, because it involves publicly owned RF spectrum.) Book publishers aren't required to produce audio or Braille editions, or translations to another language.

  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @09:05PM (#40461305)

    >but the ruling is still significant for recognizing that Internet sites may fall under the purview of the Americans with Disabilities Act."

    Web designers have ignored the sight impaired for far too long and had it far too easy. They have ignored standards, done stupid shit as use pictures for blocks of text, flash-only (like the IOC did once) and engaged in "get the hell out, you peon with a screen-reader" nonsense ever since the term "rich content" slipped out of someone's lips 15+ years ago.

    Every web designer should spend a week using the Internet blindfolded, using only JAWS.

    "But who cares about the blind?"

    There but for the grace of the Universe go you.

    --
    BMO

  • by citizenr (871508) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @10:18PM (#40462053) Homepage

    Just pass everything through voice recognition (even shitty M$ one) and all of a sudden you comply. This is how YT is doing it.

  • by Lawrence_Bird (67278) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @10:48PM (#40462351) Homepage

    So if this atrocity somehow survives through SCOTUS will this mean authors who self publish are now required to provide braille copies or else be sued too? Will I have to spend thousands of dollars to sell one or two copies of my book to a blind person? Are you fucking kidding me? ADA has morphed from 'we should try where we can to do what is reasonably possible to help the handicapped' to 'gimme gimme gimme or else!'
    Disgusting.

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