Court: Netflix doesn’t have to comply with disability law

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not apply to Netflix, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

“Because Netflix’s services are not connected to any ‘actual, physical place[],’ Netflix is not subject to the ADA,” a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled.


The case stemmed from a 2011 class action suit brought by Donald Cullen, who is deaf, claiming that Netflix violated the accessibility law by not providing closed captions for its library of streaming videos.

While the appeals court may have sided with Netflix, the online streaming giant was less successful with a similar case in 2012, filed by the National Association for the Deaf. A Massachusetts district court ruled at the time that the ADA did apply to Netflix, forcing the company to settle and pay more than $750,000 in the group's legal fees.

In settling that case, Netflix also pledged to place closed captioning on all of its videos by late 2014.