So. I’m working on a paper for my Copyright class, about the laws (or lack thereof) requiring libraries providing captioned videos for deaf and hard of hearing patrons. My thesis is thus:
There is an interesting disconnect between the American with Disabilities Act, copyright laws, and the Digital Management Copyright Act. Currently, it seems that the copyright and DMCA laws ignore the issue of accessibility and accommodations for those with disabilities. The only exception that currently exists is for the blind, allowing the creation of Braille and audiobook versions of books that are not otherwise accessible to those with visual impairments. There is no mention of making other media accessible to those with other disabilities, specifically those with hearing loss.
As things currently stand, libraries are caught between the necessity of providing captioned videos to the deaf and hard of hearing in order to fulfill their requirements under ADA, and the criminality of copying entire videos to make a captioned derivative. An additional hindrance is the law prohibiting libraries from circulating copies made in a digital format. These laws need to be reconciled and modified so that uncaptioned videos, where no commercially available captioned version exists, may legally be copied and captioned in its entirety despite anti-circumvention and copyright laws, and circulated outside the library in a digital format.
My professor believes I have a good topic and a good argument, and I’m inclined to agree. I have a ton of printouts from LexisNexis regarding ADA, captioning, copyright laws, and any combination thereof, and I’m still printing out more here and there. (Before you get on my case, let me say it’s extraordinarily difficult to highlight and scribble all over the documents when they’re on my computer screen. Don’t worry, I’m only killing a few trees by using partially recycled paper.)
I’ve been trying to work on my paper this afternoon/evening, and yet I’m hitting a roadblock. I thought I had all the resources I needed, but turns out there’s one more piece of information I’m missing. I found part of the info I needed at the NAD website. Here’s what they said:
Producers of audiovisual material, such as DVDs, are generally not required to caption their products. However, when those products are used by entities in the delivery of services, those entities are obligated to ensure that those audiovisual materials are accessible to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, which often can be accomplished through captioning.
Unfortunately, they didn’t cite their sources, and this is pissing this library student off. C’mon people, we need sources! Please! I’m trying to track down the law or any specific subset of the law that says that producers of DVDs (and back then, VHS) aren’t required to caption their products. Sure, I know that most companies have been amazing by captioning their stuff anyway, but there are still people NOT captioning their products. A while back I was borrowing the Hornblower movies from the library, only to find the first few and the last few videos were captioned, but a good chunk of the middle simply lacked any subtitles or captions. That pissed me off. Royally pissed me off. I wrote to the company and they blew me off with a generic email saying they have no intention of re-releasing it with captions.
Sorry. I’m getting slightly off topic. So, if anyone is reading this and happens to be able to find a more authoritative source, say, legal source, about how producers of DVDs aren’t legally required to caption their products, I would appreciate it a great deal.