Major court injunction set to block 151 domains to 77 sites and threaten 80% of viewers who use closed captions
Europe is no stranger to strict copyright laws – in 2017, a Dutch court outlawed websites issuing fan-made closed captions and subtitles, and it appears that following an injunction order filed by moviemaking giants such as Village Roadshow Films, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Universal, Warner Bros and others in August 2018, Australia is set to follow suit in the immediate future.
If the injunction is passed, Australia will block 151 domains linked to 77 sites, including those providing fan-made closed captions and subtitles for major motion pictures.
Unlike subtitles, closed captions were created to provide the deaf or hard-of-hearing with the full context of what is happening on screen. Instead of just being a written transcript, they provide a full text description of what is taking place.
Whilst entertainment providers such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have been providing viewers with streaming services featuring closed captions in multiple languages for years, large-scale film producers were still issuing ‘hard-copy’ content such as physical DVDs with regional subtitles. For example, a viewer from Poland may be able to watch a film in its original language, but they may not be able to watch it with closed captions in Polish.
Major media distribution and production companies claim that the Australian block on websites producing fan-made closed captions and subtitles are aimed at cracking down on pirated content. However, entertainment industry experts believe that this recent injunction is a result of the media production and distribution industry acting on its own shortcomings, rather than addressing its root problem of not adding closed captions to major motion pictures.
“A BBC report shows that 80% of TV viewers who are not necessarily hard of hearing or deaf still used closed captions to enhance their viewing experience,” said Go Transcript CEO, Peter Trebek. “It is lamentable that major movie production companies have chosen to indict websites creating accessibility enhancing subtitles instead of offering a wider range of languages, making closed captioned subtitles more readily available and easily obtainable during the initial releases.”
It is hoped that with the growing popularity of multi-language closed captions being used by major video streaming providers will encourage film houses to shortly follow suit.
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