Judge declines to dismiss ADA suit over streaming Netflix

by Walter Olson on November 15, 2011

A Massachusetts federal judge has declined to throw out an ADA suit against Netflix demanding captioning of its streaming movie service, but “stayed the case pending rulemaking by the Federal Communications Commission.” [Qualters, NLJ] Relatedly, Arizona’s largest movie chain will install closed captioning and headset systems in all its outlets following an adverse ruling by the Ninth Circuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). [East Valley Tribune, earlier] Meanwhile, following an audit negotiated in a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, “The city of Tucson may have to find an estimated $17 million to bring many of its facilities into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.” [Star]

{ 6 comments }

1 Mark Biggar 11.15.11 at 11:22 am

Why is Netflixs responsible for this and not the movie producers? Besides, I think an argument can be made that adding Closed Captioning to a movie could be considered an illegal creation of a derived work under the Copyright law.

2 Hugo S. Cunningham 11.15.11 at 11:56 am

@Mark Biggar.

Requiring movie producers to install closed captioning would raise insuperable First Amendment difficulties, if the added expense made the difference between bringing out the film or not.
Netflix could, however, require that movie producers do the closed captioning before offering films to Netflix.

3 mjs 11.15.11 at 3:25 pm

At what point can reasonable people agree that the reach of the ADA has gone well past what was envisioned at its passage?

Is it reasonable to expect a societal accommodation for every conceivable action/desire of the disabled?

4 Bull Moose 11.15.11 at 6:01 pm

That would be equal to someone in a wheelchair suing disneyland form not making it possible for them to ride magic mountain. I dont like netflix (know some if their downtrodden employees) but this is ridiculous, entertainment is not a right, you dont HAVE to watch movies on Netflix so why would they HAVE to put in closed captioning.

5 Psyop 11.20.11 at 4:47 pm

Mass. is the same state that forced eharmony to offer a comparable service to gay people through a discrimination lawsuit. What next?

6 Adam s 11.20.11 at 5:58 pm

I think it is reasonable for people to realize that the ADA has gone too far, but I also think it is reasonable to expect people to take advantage of what few rights that the gov doesn’t take away, and to seek ways to make money, improve their situation in life, as well as seek an outlet to exert what little power and influence they have left. Everything the gov does is going to have unintended consequences, this is to be expected as well.

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