Dec 022011

Could Chill Captioning and Video Description

From COAT 11/30/11,

Leading COAT affiliate The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) sent a letter to the House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-MI) opposing the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). SOPA is currently under consideration in Congress and is a bill intended to combat the dissemination of pirated copyrighted content on the Internet, such as Hollywood videos published online without permission.

SOPA would allow private parties to cut off payments and advertising services — without court review — to websites suspected of illegally showing copyrighted content. NAD asserts that SOPA, if enacted, could cause website hosts to avoid allowing the adding of captions to videos. It could also lead to little or no video description. This chilling effect would mean less captioned online videos for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and for other users of captioning. Likewise, adding video description could be seriously stymied if SOPA is enacted in its present form.

In its letter, NAD asked the House committee to not move the SOPA bill unless it is more narrowly tailored to combat actual copyright infringement. NAD also asked for protections for efforts to increase accessibility for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on SOPA on November 16, 2011, with a possible markup of the bill scheduled for December 15. Apparently, the measure is still under discussion and language changes could occur.

Advocacy Step: Write your own letter to the Chairman and Ranking members and fax them in before December 15.

Read NAD’s Letter:

Read statements by panelists at the November 16 hearing here:

– Thanks to NVRC eNews, 12/1/2011.