December 5, 2013
Online Streaming Under National Association for the Deaf v. Netflix, Inc. and the CVAA
In 2010, Congress enacted the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act requiring video program owners to provide closed captioning for television programming streamed online. Although broad, these regulations do not apply to all video content streamed through online distributors, leaving the deaf and hearing-impaired without full accessibility to online programming. The Massachusetts District Court in National Association for the Deaf v. Netflix, Inc. found that the Americans with Disability Act applies to Netflix “Watch Instantly” as an online video distributor, requiring it to provide closed captioning in conjunction with Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act regulations. In response to a possible captioning requirement, Netflix argued that it does not have control over the content and copyrights to comply. This Recent Development examines the new captioning requirements and analyzes the role of copyright law in deciding who will bear the burden of producing closed captioning.