Closed Captions Now Legally Required for Online Videos

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It’s called IP captioning or e-captioning, and the seldom-publicized regulations have actually been the law of the land since 2012.

Simply put, the law currently requires any video which has been broadcast with Closed Captions to also contain Closed Captions when viewed on the Internet. Whether it’s played from YouTube, Vimeo or a private organization’s website, the online version must have Closed Captions which meet the same Accuracy, Completeness, Synchronicity and Placement standards mandated for broadcast captions.  A failure to provide captions for such online videos can open up the owner or producer of the media to liability.

The current law applies to broadcasts which are subsequently being viewed online and “substantially in their entirety.” It’s important to pause here and say that we are not lawyers, and to the best of our knowledge, this regulation has not yet been tested in the courts. So the precise meaning of “substantially in its entirety” is still open to interpretation. In the interest of protecting our clients, we have taken a “good faith” position on the FCC’s (presumed) intentions, and we are recommending that our clients e-caption any video which appears online in a form that matches at least 75% of the previously-broadcast version. That doesn’t mean the same content can’t appear without captions, in a differently-edited form, but rather that if 75% of the online video is the same program that was previously broadcast with captions, you should caption the online version as well.

Following this recommendation, if a church were to broadcast a full, 60 minute service on TV and subsequently post to their website a video excerpt of the sermon from that program, they would only be required to caption the online sermon video if it constituted 45 minutes of the original broadcast.

We know it can get a little confusing, and to make matters worse, there is no standardized format for IP captions. The format required will vary from website to website.

MORE New Regulations Take Effect January 2016
Beginning in 2016, video clips of any length must contain closed captions when viewed over the Internet, if the source/original video is broadcast with captions on or after that date.

The most economical way to create e-captions is to do it at the same time your broadcast captions are created. At ProCaption, that only adds $25 to the bill. We can help you determine which format you need and IF you need e-captions for your online content.

Call us today for a totally free consultation and cost quote. It would be our pleasure to support you!

Click Here to view the FCC Guide to Captioning of Internet Video Programming