Netflix sued for not providing captions for all videos

Netflix may be a popular way to stream movies and TV shows but this week a group has filed a lawsuit against Netflix claiming it discriminates against those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The National Association of the Deaf filed the lawsuit on Thursday, claiming that Netflix has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act "by failing to provide closed captioning for most of its “Watch Instantly” movies and television streamed on the Internet."

According to the NAD's press release they have tried for years to get Netflix to provide captions for all of the movies and TV shows it has on its streaming service. However, according to the group's president Bobbie Beth Scoggins, "They chose not to serve our community on an equal basis; we must have equal access to the biggest provider of streamed entertainment. As Netflix itself acknowledges, streamed video is the future and we must not be left out."

Last February, the Netflix blog site said that 30 percent of its streaming video content had captions and that it had plans to increase that amount to 80 percent by the end of 2011. It even has a page on the Netflix web site that people can see which movies and TV shows have captions.

In related news, the Netflix blog site today announced that the streaming movies from Sony Pictures that are a part of Netflix's deal with the Starz pay cable network have been removed due to a "temporary contract issue between Sony and Starz." There's no word on when these movies will be put back online.

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I'm going to attempt to help some of you to understand the problem. Most people with hearing impairment have nerve loss. It is caused by environmental noises & an example of that is loud rock music. We have over 40 million people in the U.S. between the age of 20-59 with this type loss. They are like most of you. They could hear well at one time. Now they only hear fragments of words. That's because loud noises destroyed some or most of the hair cells in the cochlear organ which is in the inner ear. This organ is about the size of your thumb nail yet it contains your entire decoding system. If some of those hair cells become damaged they will no longer hear specific sounds such as the high pitch sounds in words. So what is high pitch sounds? All the consonants and the vowel "e". These people can hear sound but they cannot hear words clearly. To give you an idea of what that might be like is .....have you ever tried to read a book with all the consonants missing? How did that grab you? These are people who have had their hearing and lost it. They know what they are missing. They cannot understand a video without captions. Hearing loss of the nerve type is running rampant today. In fact, we have more teenagers with this type loss than ever before in history. We, as a nation, cannot just ignore that fact. They still have their brain....they can still think....and they have feelings, they have desires like all the rest of you, but unless they are able to receive "input"....they don't have "thruput" and therefore there will be no "output". We must provide captions/subtitles/scripts to all videos because we cannot just sit on our hands and let this many people suffer. It could be YOU tomorrow. I have been sending letters to many company's who provide videos in the Internet Marketing programs for a full year asking them to please provide captions/scripts to the videos for those with hearing loss. They ignore the letters or if they respond they say, "Well, there really isn't anything on the video that's worth anything." My question is: Then why have the instructions on the video if it's not worth anything? Why not print it? Or is this an opportunity for someone who wants to be on a video? People have a right to learn, to be part of a group, to be in the loop, to attend classes, listen to videos, go to seminars & come out knowing what was said. I know a lady who paid for a seminar and she requested a note taker. The company said, we provide a booklet and you can just follow along. My question then was, "If the booklet is all that is needed then why did the company hire a speaker/instructor, pay for a large room in the hotel? Why not just send the booklet to all the attendees? This lady wanted to hear the question from the back of the room, and the answer from the front of the room. She wanted to hear every word spoken like everyone else in the room. She wanted to be in the loop when there was group work. She wanted to know what to talk about during breaks after all, she paid the same as everyone else in the room. She should be able to have equal to what others could receive naturally. She paid the same fee the others paid. Is that too much to ask for? They provided her a captioner to caption every word spoken. That was the right thing to do. Captions on TV came out in the '80's...that's over 30 years ago. That was about the same time telephone relay service was provided by the telephone company. People need to be able to talk on the phone just like everyone else. We are hideously behind in helping people with hearing loss of the nerve type than we are with most other disabilities all put together. For those of you who don't understand that need....give yourself a moment and ask yourself how well would you get along without music and communication in your life. I think the answer to that has already floated to the front of your mental cupboard. Thank you for listening and I hope those of you who are blessed with good hearing never lose it. It's a difficult life. Let's give them some support....that's what we'd do for You. People need to get away from Meism and into Weism. That's where your life really begins.

Gallant says: "I'll write a polite letter to Netflix and ask if they can add captioning to their videos."

Goofus says: "I'm going to sue Netflix! They owe me some free money! Hurrr Durrr!"

How "Americans" feel for their fellow "Americans." America stopped being a Nation long time ago and will all these races/communities/minorities/religions ( even Baptists - Hallelujah! haha! ) being there, will be a good experiment about how they're going to survive. hehe! Luckily you're not the ones with the problem in this case.

I think those guys have found laws related to their subject. They're not suing with emty hands.

They're demanding money they can't afford to give away because they haven't put enough money into getting subtitles... >_>

"... how bout they just ask them to put some caption there for you guys. Maybe it just slipped their memory to add it their in the first place. "

Because Asking, particularly asking nicely, usually & historically doesn't work.

For most every on-line video streaming method/format the tech has always been there for subs/captioning, but Google is the only one actively using it [because a couple Google execs are hearing impaired]. It's part of Flash, & the tools are there, yet major TV sites, who already have the captioning content, won't bother. The HDMI spec conveniently overlooks captioning too. While most every DVD had CC, very few DVD players, & fewer Blu-Ray players use or work with it. Most DVD & Blu-Ray discs do have subs [though big studios like Disney may not always bother], but not because they're concerned about the hearing impaired as an audience, but for foreign language viewers -- hearing impaired hints are normally omitted.

Netflix already has access to the subtitles with the movies -- you don't think every cable channel creates identical subtitles when they air the same movie do you? And subs are created when they put together most DVD/Blu-Ray discs, so the studios have those files readily available. You would think Netflix would include them just to access the hearing impaired market, which would more than make up for any added costs -- I spend well over $100 month on cable, DVD/Blu-Ray discs, & Blockbuster, & without CC &/or subs there's zero reason or chance for them to get even a dime of that money.

Unfortunately with Netflix, like many commenting here, just because something is right & makes good sense doesn't mean it's accepted -- when I read "Thumbs up if they should have ZERO CC on netflix!" it's very ironic that anyone asks Why Sue in the 1st place. The answer in short, is that if different groups don't fight, don't stand up for themselves, 1) others Are Not going to, & 2) they will be increasingly marginalized till they're excluded everywhere else too. Free markets, profits, & relying on people's sense of right & wrong Very Obviously won't/doesn't work. If it did I might have watched a video on-line in the past, or maybe would feel welcome going to the store or McDonald's, or maybe I could have made a simple, stupid phone call once when Windows locked me out & wouldn't reactivate -- several days later I was able to have someone call for me. Sure, that's life, & everyone is dealt cards both good & bad, but it goes beyond that -- is something more...

Saudi Arabia was in the news last week because women there want the right to drive -- I didn't read a lot of complaints about their protest, so it's safe to say most people reading the western media agreed, at least in principle that women in Saudi Arabia shouldn't be treated so unfairly because of something they couldn't control or help, i.e. being born female. AFAIK no one went out & purposely made themselves deaf either.

mikiem said,

Because Asking, particularly asking nicely, usually & historically doesn't work.

For most every on-line video streaming method/format the tech has always been there for subs/captioning, but Google is the only one actively using it [because a couple Google execs are hearing impaired]. It's part of Flash, & the tools are there, yet major TV sites, who already have the captioning content, won't bother. The HDMI spec conveniently overlooks captioning too. While most every DVD had CC, very few DVD players, & fewer Blu-Ray players use or work with it. Most DVD & Blu-Ray discs do have subs [though big studios like Disney may not always bother], but not because they're concerned about the hearing impaired as an audience, but for foreign language viewers -- hearing impaired hints are normally omitted.

Netflix already has access to the subtitles with the movies -- you don't think every cable channel creates identical subtitles when they air the same movie do you? And subs are created when they put together most DVD/Blu-Ray discs, so the studios have those files readily available. You would think Netflix would include them just to access the hearing impaired market, which would more than make up for any added costs -- I spend well over $100 month on cable, DVD/Blu-Ray discs, & Blockbuster, & without CC &/or subs there's zero reason or chance for them to get even a dime of that money.

Unfortunately with Netflix, like many commenting here, just because something is right & makes good sense doesn't mean it's accepted -- when I read "Thumbs up if they should have ZERO CC on netflix!" it's very ironic that anyone asks Why Sue in the 1st place. The answer in short, is that if different groups don't fight, don't stand up for themselves, 1) others Are Not going to, & 2) they will be increasingly marginalized till they're excluded everywhere else too. Free markets, profits, & relying on people's sense of right & wrong Very Obviously won't/doesn't work. If it did I might have watched a video on-line in the past, or maybe would feel welcome going to the store or McDonald's, or maybe I could have made a simple, stupid phone call once when Windows locked me out & wouldn't reactivate -- several days later I was able to have someone call for me. Sure, that's life, & everyone is dealt cards both good & bad, but it goes beyond that -- is something more...

Saudi Arabia was in the news last week because women there want the right to drive -- I didn't read a lot of complaints about their protest, so it's safe to say most people reading the western media agreed, at least in principle that women in Saudi Arabia shouldn't be treated so unfairly because of something they couldn't control or help, i.e. being born female. AFAIK no one went out & purposely made themselves deaf either.

I have _itus which mea_s I am scared of the letter "_" so I hereby make a_ official complai_t to _eowin that I wish them to cha_ge their _ame. If they choose to ig_ore my complai_t I will be forced to sue them....

PlogCF said,
I guess silent film companies better watch out too, now...

Why should they worry?

It's actually better than watching on-line video today if you're hearing impaired, because they at least acknowledged the fact that folks couldn't hear them. Today most sites with on-line video might as well just flip me the 1 fingered salute. Doesn't matter to me -- doesn't matter to them unless they hope to sell me something, & then I'll do everything I can to discourage everyone I can from ever giving them a dime. Maybe lost sales from 1 person don't matter, but there's not just one hearing impaired person on-line, & sometimes we actually have influence with you *normals* too. ;-)

LOL go sue TV Networks too while your at it.. Or how about the older TVs which dont support captions.. Maybe the captions for certain things on Netflix aren't available due to the fact they don't exist and its not Netflix's job to create them..

"Last February, the Netflix blog site said that 30 percent of its streaming video content had captions and that it had plans to increase that amount to 80 percent by the end of 2011." That doesn't say whether or not THEY THEMSELVES will be adding them it could also mean they're waiting for the subtitles to become available to them from whoever owns the rights to the video..

Morphine-X said,
LOL go sue TV Networks too while your at it.. Or how about the older TVs which dont support captions.. Maybe the captions for certain things on Netflix aren't available due to the fact they don't exist and its not Netflix's job to create them..

"Last February, the Netflix blog site said that 30 percent of its streaming video content had captions and that it had plans to increase that amount to 80 percent by the end of 2011." That doesn't say whether or not THEY THEMSELVES will be adding them it could also mean they're waiting for the subtitles to become available to them from whoever owns the rights to the video..

Why does Netflix have movies that are more recent than the '50s? Because their customers want to see current flicks -- simple. Why does Netflix care? Because their customers pay them to -- equally simple. Now when a company has people that are willing to be paying customers, but refuses to let them, what's that called?

I recall a big uproar not long ago because a Deli refused to serve non-English speaking customers. I've seen lots of controversy when it comes to displays of faith, & everyone's seen the bad things that can come of out ethnic conflict. If I said blank all the bankety blanks I'd be labeled racist. So what is it called when Netflix *chooses* not to serve the hearing impaired?

Are you kidding me? What ever happened to maybe they are working on it. Also what ever happend if you dont like something turn it off. I mean really to sue over it? I don't like the programming on the oprah channel (lol) now should i sue about it. You can't expect everything to be the way you want it all the time. And if it is that important go buy the thing.

blozzo said,
... Also what ever happend if you dont like something turn it off... You can't expect everything to be the way you want it all the time...

You are correct -- too bad you're not talking about the issue with Netflix the article refers to. *If* you want to understand the problem, imagine the local grocery or wherever you buy your food refused to sell to you because of something you couldn't help or change, like say your height. Now you wouldn't starve -- you could always go get your food somewhere else, couldn't you? But how would you feel -- how would you react if they suddenly set a height range & through no fault of your own you were now too short?

That may sound silly, but Netflix's behavior is just as arbitrary. The subs &/or captioning content is readily available from the same places/companies that supply the movies. Some of their movies do have subs/CC, so it's not a tech barrier. There are obviously people willing to become paying customers *if* they do it for all their movies, so together with the fact they're already captioning some stuff that means it's not a cost vs. profit matter. The only reason left is attitude, as shown by your & others comments.

Americans with Disabilities Act is really screwed up. The reasons for implementing it were good but how it was implemented affectively created nonsense lawsuits like this happening all the time.

It's not exactly like Netflix failed to provide any captions whatsoever, and they're already taking steps to provide more. Other than money, what more does The National Association of the Deaf want or expect? Just the money then...

Did they ever advertise that they had closed captions? No. So bugger off, and write them a letter, asking nicely to add captions.

Seriously? If you don't like Netflix because of lack of a service then unsubscribe. No one forced the deaf to sign up for the service.

WTF stupid lawsuit I dont even....

I cant imagine why they think its "discrimination" when they provide captions for MOST of their videos, expecting them to do captions for every streaming video on the service is absurd.

Are they really gonna sue them for 8 bucks cause a movie they wanted to see was on netflix didn't have cc? They are providing a service that is optional and clearly state not all of their videos have cc on them.

seriously... do movie theaters provide close captioning for them? sometimes it's ridicules to go out of your way to accommodation every disability taht's out there. leave netflix alone people, it's one of the best things about the internet.

What about the blind? It should also have spoken descriptions of everything in the movie, so as not to discriminate against the blind.
/s

It would seem that some people just aren't happy if something doesn't move fast enough or go their way. It would appear that Netflix is adding captions; it just not doing it fast enough for Ms. Bobbie Beth Scoggins. I would say that she just hasn't hear the news, but that would be mean.

Everybody's trying to sue to get some damn money, how bout they just ask them to put some caption there for you guys. Maybe it just slipped their memory to add it their in the first place. Nothing worst when associations sue on behalf of a group or people knowing that the actual people will never get a cent out of it.

Biglo said,
Everybody's trying to sue to get some damn money, how bout they just ask them to put some caption there for you guys. Maybe it just slipped their memory to add it their in the first place. Nothing worst when associations sue on behalf of a group or people knowing that the actual people will never get a cent out of it.

Based on what incentive? If it's on their blog, they're thinking about it. They're not suing for money; they're suing to force Netflix to cooperate.

McG said,

Based on what incentive? If it's on their blog, they're thinking about it. They're not suing for money; they're suing to force Netflix to cooperate.
And for money.

McG said,

Based on what incentive? If it's on their blog, they're thinking about it. They're not suing for money; they're suing to force Netflix to cooperate.
As Biglo said, they could've sent an official complaint without brining the law to their doorstep.

Biglo said,
Everybody's trying to sue to get some damn money, how bout they just ask them to put some caption there for you guys. Maybe it just slipped their memory to add it their in the first place. Nothing worst when associations sue on behalf of a group or people knowing that the actual people will never get a cent out of it.
They have tried for years to get Netflix to do they right thing.

This day and age companies and people never do they right thing until you hit their wallet.