The media access report


US distributors in court over lack of captioning



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US distributors in court over lack of captioning


A US court has preliminarily approved settlement of a class action against a number of DVD distributors based on allegations that they misled consumers by not providing captions on the bonus material of DVDs.

The Los Angeles County Superior Court preliminarily approved settlement of Boltz v Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc., et al, which involved allegations that Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc., The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc., and Warner Home Video Inc. misled consumers by displaying a closed captioning symbol on DVD packaging when the feature presentation of certain DVDs was closed captioned but the bonus material was not.

The distributors denied liability, but have agreed to settle the action to avoid the cost of litigation by providing closed captioning of Bonus Material on the majority of DVDs in future and paying the legal fees and costs up to US$710,000 in exchange for Settlement Class Members’ release of claims.

“Bonus Material” means content other than the feature presentation, which is included on DVD Products.  Such content is also referred to in the entertainment industry as “bonus features,” “special features,” “EC,” “enhanced content,” or “extra content”. Bonus Material does not include advertising elements, such as trailers.

The Settlement Class includes all persons with any hearing loss residing in the United States who have purchased, rented or otherwise obtained a VHS, Laser Disk, DVD, or other home video product produced and/or distributed by any of the distributors.

The named Plaintiff in the case, Russ E. Boltz, believes that class members will benefit greatly from the future captioning of Bonus Material, especially given that, apart from the current case, there are no legal grounds available to compel the distributors to provide any captioning on any DVDs.  For more detailed information on the settlement, visit the DVD Packaging Class Settlement website at: http://www.gardencitygroup.com/cases/

It is hoped that this action will prompt a follow-through with DVD releases in Australia, meaning more titles and bonus material will be captioned.


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