Is it unreasonable for deaf moviegoers to expect that song lyrics might be included in film captions and subtitles? On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, a California District court found that it was, when it granted summary judgment to a group of movie studios named in a class action lawsuit filed by the Alexander Graham Bell Association (“the Association”) for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The Association filed the claim on the grounds that the studios’ distribution of their works with less-than-complete captions amounted to false advertising and a civil rights violation against the hard of hearing. The court found that a “reasonable consumer” would have no reason to believe that there was full captioning of a given film, and that the Association cannot prove the intentional discrimination required to mount a civil rights claim.
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on October 20, 2016. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Vishny, Arielle, "Making Music Accessible: Closed Captions in Light of California Court Ruling on The Duties of Film Studios" (2016). AELJ Blog. 127.