Netflix To Try Crowdsourcing Subtitles; Will It Get Sued For Infringement?

from the rock-and-a-copyright-law dept

Before getting into the details of this new story, let me bring up a pair of recent Techdirt stories as background. First, there's the story of Netflix being told that not having closed captioning on its streaming movies means it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. As we noted at the time, this raised interesting copyright questions, considering that Netflix may not be legally allowed to put captions on videos. A few days before that, we had written about a student who ran a site that provided crowdsourced downloadable subtitle files for TV and movies, and had been found guilty of copyright infringement.

Knowing both those things, isn't it interesting that Netflix is now experimenting with crowdsourcing captioning/subtitles for films and TV shows? Perhaps it figures that having lost that first legal fight, it should lean in the other direction and see if it gets sued there as well. Either way, it seems like it opens up some pretty serious copyright questions. While some of us think that providing captions/subtitles should be pretty clear fair use, others (obviously) disagree. And, when it's an operation like Netflix -- which is obviously a commercial entity -- you have to wonder if it's going to get sued...

Filed Under: copyright, crowdsourcing, subtitles
Companies: netflix

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  1. icon
    JMT (profile), 4 Aug 2012 @ 8:28pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    "The benefit to the public isn't as large as that..."

    I imagine the deaf public would disagree with you. The benefit to them is quite large. Do they simply not matter to you?

    "...and at any rate is for the studios to fix, not a distributor."

    You're correct, but they're not. So someone else is stepping in to do their job for them, at no cost to the them.

    "Not directly, but it usurps the right holder's position to do this work and provide this with their product. "

    Not it doesn't. They are still entirely able to provide their own service. I can't see how they are restricted in any way. In fact if they did, others wouldn't have to make the effort instead.

    "Now, on the other side, if Netflix has subtitles but other sellers / lenders do not, have they gained a commercial benefit from this action? That might actually hurt the market, making it harder for others to sell or lend their copies, and perhaps causing a decrease in sales."

    Jebbers, did need a brain injury to come up with a backwards logic like that? Making a product more useful, more desirable, more helpful, causes less people to buy it? In what universe has that ever happened?!

    That has got to be the weakest, most pathetic attempt to defend ridiculous copyright restrictions I've ever read.

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