Charting a Course for Video Accessibility through the First Amendment and Copyright Law

Posted: 31 Mar 2012 Last revised: 8 Feb 2019

See all articles by Blake E. Reid

Blake E. Reid

University of Colorado Law School

Date Written: August 1, 2012


This article argues that requiring video creators and distributors to make videos accessible to people with disabilities by providing closed captions and video descriptions does not violate the First Amendment or implicate United States copyright law. More specifically, the article analyzes economic and philosophical strains of argument made by video programmers challenging contemporary video accessibility mandates under telecommunications laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The article concludes that those video accessibility mandates are unlikely to implicate any cognizable economic or philosophical First Amendment interests and are likely to satisfy the appropriate level of judicial scrutiny in any case. The article also concludes that compliance with video accessibility mandates is unlikely to violate copyright law, both because accessibility statutes impliedly repeal copyright law to the extent necessary for compliance and because compliance arguably constitutes a noninfringing fair use.

Keywords: Accessibility, Communications, Regulation, Intellectual Property, Copyright, Consumer Perspectives, First Amendment, Administrative Law, Media Law

Suggested Citation

Reid, Blake Ellis, Charting a Course for Video Accessibility through the First Amendment and Copyright Law (August 1, 2012). U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: or

Blake Ellis Reid (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States
303.492.0548 (Phone)

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