Deaf Man Sues Pornhub and Other Sites For Lack Of Closed Captioning

Screen Shot 2020-01-18 at 7.43.32 AMA deaf man in New York, Yaroslav Suris,  has sued Pornhub and other pornographic websites over what he claims is a lack of closed captioning that prevents him from enjoying “video content” as a disabled person.  He claims that sites like Pornhub, RedTube, and YouPorn are in violation of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and its mandate that public accommodation’s goods, services, facilities and privileges must allow for “full and equal enjoyment” for disabled individuals.

Notably, one site, Pornhub, has insisted that it does supply closed captioning even if it is presumably . . . well . . .monosyllabic.

This issue did come up during the Obama Administration with regard to movie theaters.  The Obama Administration issued a rule that the failure to offer closed captioning for deaf moviegoers would violate the ADA. The rule required:

(1) have and maintain the equipment necessary to provide closed movie captioning and audio description at a movie patron’s seat whenever showing a digital movie produced, distributed, or otherwise made available with these features;

(2) provide notice to the public about the availability of these features; and

(3) ensure that theater staff is available to assist patrons with the equipment before, during, and after the showing of a movie with these features.

This lawsuit would apply to streaming and Internet services and sites.  Dialogue is not known as the primary draws of pornography, though the Supreme Court had a direct influence on porn scripts when it started to rule on what was obscene and what is merely pornographic.  Applying community standards, the Court asked if an average person would find the work taken as a whole would only appeal prurient interests and was “utterly without redeeming social value.” The response from the porn industry was to insert lines for Shakespeare into scenes. Those literally moments would, of course, be lost without closed captioning.

I was curious as to how this would work with such non-pornographic but analogous scenes like the famous faked orgasm in “When Harry Met Sally” so here it is:

29 thoughts on “Deaf Man Sues Pornhub and Other Sites For Lack Of Closed Captioning”

  1. This makes no sense.

    The guy says he can’t enjoy “video” content…but he is deaf, not blind.

    If he were blind, then sure, he would need the sound…to get some sort of enjoyment, but he isn’t blind, he is deaf, so he can still see the actions of the people in the video, the visual stimuli, and thereby receive enjoyment therein.

    Case closed!

    1. Speaking of “prurient” and “value”

      Having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters….why should the average person under contemporary community standard be judging a work taken as a whole to “appeal” in the first place?

      An excessive interest….yeah, this law is outdated. Are we talking about those with a porn addiction…?

      And “social value”….okay, that is so broad to include majority….it could be argued by someone, somewhere, believes that some things some so-called redeemable “value.”

    2. And I know this comment may be perceived as “insensitive, ” that I am not. Or making jokes, but…

      It’s porn, ….porn, we are talking about here….

      Not Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lydon, or some other film, that would need, and does have Closed Captions for the deaf persons.

      But porn, you only need the visual stimuli…

      Why would a lawyer even take this case?

  2. The obvious angle to someome with very limited legal knowledge would seem to be that pornography is art and covering the art in question would detract from the artists’ work.

    If pornography is NOT art, then obscenity laws come back to haunt them. They should be cautious about labeling themselves a service unless my understanding is based on false premises.

    1. Bob – you raise an interesting point. If pornography is art does it requires subtitles. Can you subtitle a Jackson Pollock?

  3. It all comes down to “reasonable accommodation”. Is it reasonable to insist that pornography accommodate a disability? Or is this lawsuit barratry (“bringing repeated or persistent acts of litigation” for the purposes of profit or harassment”)?

  4. Most porn has no words many times, so how could it be in violation? I can see it with movie providers being responsible for closed caption, but not a simple storage site that is not charging that is something else. If someone is paying for something and they are not satisfied they should not get more back than they have paid.
    If this kind of thing is allowed to be sued for it should also be able to sue all the people that speak languages that I do not understand because I’m not able to enjoy the content.
    If someone wants that feature they should be buying DVD’s as opposed to suing people for things that they are getting for free.

  5. Honestly the only time I ever come across gay porn is when some drug dealer is hosting a sex party with several other gays joining, bottoms and tops and a few versatiles thrown in, a couple of baggies of tina, and the TV plays some hot porn to get the partying started. Afterwards it really is a non-issue

  6. “Congress shall make no…abridging…the right of the people…to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    1st Amendment

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    “Redress of grievances” should be the Walmart or 99 Cents Only Store version, not that of the Rolls Royce Sweptail.

  7. Another reason, in case we needed one, that the ADA should be repealed and replaced with nothing. You will recall that Robert Dole was a sponsor of the ADA and (IIRC) George Bush the Elder signed it into law. Another chapter in that engaging history of the Republican Party, Failure Theatre through the Ages.

  8. There is a cottage industry of attorneys who make their living suing over the ADA. They go into bathrooms in small Mom and Pop stores across America, and measure the height of the mirror over the sink. If it’s a quarter inch off, they sue. These stores have to pay up or close. I have to say that suing over a lack of CC for porn movies is a new low. I suppose the next level will be reviewing the “dialogue” of porn movies for accuracy in the closed captioning.

    And, you’re kidding, there are Shakespearean lines in pornos? In all pornos or only in response to the lawsuit?

    I wonder if ethics is taught in law school.

    “In a new twist on an old ruse that some call legal extortion, a Los Angeles attorney is suspected of creating “ghost” clients who file hundreds of lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act to extract settlements from Southern California businesses.

    Simon Soo Kil Chang, who operates the K&C Law Firm, has for at least the past three years allegedly targeted vulnerable mom-and-pop establishments that don’t have the financial resources to fight the civil rights claims in Orange and Los Angeles county courts, according to Placentia attorney David Michaels.

    Michaels has filed a complaint with the State Bar of California urging swift action to stop the harassment of businesses, which typically offer up to $4,000 to settle complaints alleging such ADA violations as faded paint on a handicapped parking spot or a bathroom mirror that rests perhaps an inch too high.”

    1. I agree as this is an inappropriate use of the disabilities act. As those sites are not charging for use of their sites, and if the material does not have CC content in the original how is anyone going to be able to enable it.

      Does the term looking a gift horse in the mouth mean anything anymore?

      I can see where this would be reasonable with DVD’s and TV where there are standards in place for such. Perhaps this person should complain to Netflix for not showing adult content, as it is a pay service. I do not see where something that is not a pay to view should have to comply with this.

      Keep in mind I have had disabilities since I was a child, and making life easier for the disabled is very important. However, I just do not see where this would be in the same class as being able to get a wheelchair into a building, and making reading materials where all people can have access to them. It is more in line with suing a prostitute because they were not able to please you because you have ED.

  9. Could a blind person sue for lack of stimulation and demand sense of touch be compensated?

    1. Interesting question. Could a blind person sue to have the visual elements of each scene in every movie described with added audio features?

      1. At the very least the deaf guy should be given one of those Gwyneth Paltrow P****Y Candles so he can “be there”! And frankly, I didn’t even KNOW the porn sites HAD sound! Judging from his name, I don’t think he’s from around here!

  10. It matters how words are spelled. In Blazing Saddles a guy says: Where da white wimin at?
    This spelling reflects his pronunciation but also his culture.

    1. Maddog – what is most important in a porno, the dialogue or the action? And if you are reading the subtitles, aren’t you missing the action? I watch a fair number of foreign films and subtitles vs. action are always a problem.

      1. Paul Schulte – sometimes I watch a foreign film twice. Once with the dubbing, which always seems to use worse actors than the originals, and then over again in the native language. Or sometimes I try that with the CC. But I always enjoy the opportunity to watch a movie in its native language.

        1. I saw a film–Elizabeth–while in Portugal. From the venue I attended this was a “foreign film” that was subtitled in the Portuguese. I lamented that this was the first foreign language film that I could watch to complete understanding and not be tethered to the distraction of having to read subtitles. A welcomed juxtapose I might add.

    2. Yeah, you’d think one of those liberlefties would have filed a suit due to the “racism” in that movie! I loved it! If they failed to insult ANY of the leftists’ pets of today I must have missed it!

  11. I saw this reported on Drudge and thought, “This is a case destined for the Supreme Court.” However, this will give Meghan Markle same work while she is trying to find a role in the film industry again.

    1. She married into a royal family and then fled with the prince. Actors don’t have the best reputation for relationship longevity.

      I recall reading an interview with Edward VIII’s wife Wallis Simpson. She said something along the lines of when a king abdicates his throne to marry you, there is this tremendous pressure to have the most wonderful, lifelong romance. She said most real life relationships can’t live up to that kind of pressure.

      If Harry does anything permanent in this move, they will suffer the same pressure on a scale with geological forces that form diamonds. They must have the most romantic, intense bond, or he will have lost his royal title for nothing. I doubt a marriage to an actress could withstand it.

      Hopefully all they will do is become part time royals, merely dumping most of their responsibilities on William and Kate.

      I recall when the public used to tease Kate Middleton as “Waity Katie”. William had seen how his mother suffered under the pressures of marrying into the royal family, constantly under public scrutiny, as well as a marriage that fell apart. He wanted to make absolutely sure that she knew what she was getting into, and could handle it. That their relationship could persevere. They even broke up at least once. But Kate was British. She grew up watching the royals, and had some idea of what the job description entailed. She would have known all about the restrictions on high society, the dress code, required hosiery, sitting position, and life of sacrifice. Although the upper royals are wealthy, they don’t have command over all of their time in the same way that the lesser royals do. They have commitments scheduled far in advance.

      I believe that is why William and Harry quarreled over the latter’s engagement. Harry did not take the same precautions with Meghan. Not even close. It seemed impulsive, and now you have the pair embarrassing the royal family with a backstabbing announcement without resolving it behind closed doors first. This should have all been ironed out privately.

      I don’t blame Meghan. Harry clearly chose someone not only not royal, but not British, and he spent very little time dating her. His actions speak to wanting an out.

      1. Why would he even go along with this from his wife? She must have performed quite the magic trick on him.

        If it were me, and I was him, I’d tell her to “kick rocks” and “please do let the door hit you on the way out.”

        She knew what she was signing up for, and then she is upset with it? C’mon.

        It would another thing, if she did NOT know what she was signing up for, and maybe some could argue that she really didn’t…who knows!

        Perhaps, they both performed magic on each other, and swept away in all the excitement of it, but when reality sinks in…..good luck!

        IMHO, I think she couldn’t hang on the strict regulations of royal life, and wanted to “have her cake, and eat it to…as some have said…as I am repeating this notion.” Including things like no garlic, or onions, and only “nude” nail polish, and only “chic modern conservative clothes.”

        Maybe she likes control, and doesn’t like to be control, all the while, royals are groomed from a very young age to have a very strict and controlled life.

        But then again, for all we know, as 6th in line, Harry used Meghan as a way to “get out.”

        This is all gossip and speculation, only they know who is using what for who, when, and where.

        I also find that she only lasted like ~ 2 years, to be very interesting.

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