ADA Website Compliance

DEAF MAN DEMANDS CLOSED CAPTIONING FOR PORN VIDEOS IN FEDERAL LAWSUIT

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By: Minh N. Vu and Samuel Sverdlov

Seyfarth Synopsis:  Purveyors of porn are being sued for offering online videos without closed captioning.

We really can’t make this stuff up.  Lawsuits by deaf plaintiffs against public accommodations for failing to provide closed captioning for videos on their websites are not uncommon.  But last week, a deaf man sued three porn websites in federal court in New York claiming that online porn videos must have closed captioning which would provide a transcription of any dialogue, as well as a description of sounds in the video.  The Plaintiff claimed that the porn purveyors’ failure to provide closed captioning on the videos prevented him from full enjoyment of videos such as Hot Step Aunt Babysits Disobedient Nephew – Sofi Ryan – Family Therapy, Sexy Cop Gets Witness To Talk, A— Lesbian Action and Dirty Talk, The Guy Talked a Woman to A— Sex, Daddy 4K – Allison Comes To Talk About Money To Her Naughty Father, 18 YO Blonde Stripper DP in Homemade Gangbang Porn, and Beautiful Newbie Jasmine Interviewed Before A— Crea—e, in violation of Title III of the ADA, New York State Human Rights Law, New York City Human Rights Law, and New York State Civil Rights Law.

Putting aside jokes about whether the dialogue is that critical or how one would describe the various sounds in these videos, these lawsuits do raise some interesting legal questions. For example, are the websites, which are not likely to be associated with any physical place of public accommodation, covered by Title III of the ADA?  There is no precedent from the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on this issue, though some New York district judges in the Circuit think they are.  The porn websites may also contain content posted by third parties for which the sites may have immunity under the Communications Decency Act of 1996, as one Massachusetts federal judge recently found in another case involving closed captioning of online videos posted on university websites.  We’ll keep a close eye on this one and apprise you of any legally noteworthy developments.

Edited by Kristina Launey

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