Judge Allows Closed-Captioning Lawsuit Against Netflix To Proceed

Netflix recently asked a court to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the National Association for the Deaf that alleges the company violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by not including closed-captioning on many of its streaming videos. But earlier this week, the judge in the case ruled against Netflix, allowing the suit to move forward.

Netflix had argued that the while the ADA requires stores to make reasonable accommodation, streaming video was not covered by that same umbrella.

But the U.S. District Court judge in the case disagreed, saying the ADA was intended to prevent discriminating against the disabled everywhere.

According to the judge, “In a society in which business is increasingly conducted online,” the ADA would only be compromised by “excluding businesses that sell services through the Internet.”

While the judge’s ruling allows the suit to continue forward, it does not answer the question of whether or not Netflix, which does have captioning on some titles, violated the ADA by not having the captions on most or all of its streaming offerings.

Federal law currently requires captions for TV programs, but that law was written in 1996 when the notion of streaming a full movie in HD was a pipe dream.

The FCC has given a deadline of March 2014 for online video companies to place captions on all U.S.-produced content made after the 1996 law was enacted.

In his ruling, the judge said the FCC deadline “reflects only minimum compliance standards,” over which the ADA could take priority.

Netflix may have to provide closed captions online [SFgate.com]