Article extracted from The Guardian online.
The streaming service, Disney, Fox, Universal, Warner Bros and Paramount have been accused of discrimination against the deaf for failing to caption songs in films such as Skyfall.
Studios including Disney, Netflix, Fox, Universal, Warner Bros and Paramount have been hit with a lawsuit accusing the companies of discrimination against the deaf and hearing impaired, according to the Wrap.
The suit alleges that films advertised by the studios with the option of captions or subtitles are incomplete as song lyrics are not included.
“While the dialogue of some movies or shows are indeed fully subtitled, the practice of not subtitling song/music lyrics is frustratingly widespread,” the complaint stated.
The complainants cited the Captain America films, Selma and Skyfall as recent examples of films that have included incomplete captioning. The studios have yet to comment on the suit, though it’s thought that the tendency to remove lyrics from captioning is due to a successful lawsuit against Disney in 1992, which claimed that reproduction of lyrics for their sing-a-long VHS tapes was a breach of copyright. Traditionally extra permissions are required from the song’s rights holder for the use of lyrics on-screen.
“It is encouraging to see the issue of incomplete captioning in popular, mainstream films has been highlighted,” said Dr Terry Riley, chairman of the British Deaf Association. “We believe that anyone who purchases a cinema ticket should have full access and this includes captions. The cost of the subtitles is minimal and far outweighs any potential loss of income”.
In 2012 Netflix faced another lawsuit claiming the lack of complete captioning on their streaming service violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The company settled with the complainants and agreed to caption all of its web-streamed content by 2014 after attempting to argue that the federal law, which makes accessibility a legal requirement, did not apply to online businesses.
The complainants in this latest case are seeking unspecified damages, as well as clear labelling on DVD and streaming products “to make it clear what content is captioned and what is not”.