Raleigh, NC - In a surprising twist in the world of Bitcoin podcasts, Bitcoin Audible, helmed by popular host Guy Swann, was served with a lawsuit on Friday. The plaintiff? A deaf fan, who's taking the podcasting world to task for a lack of ADA compliance.
Swann, whose podcast has been featured in Forbes Magazine’s Top Crypto Podcasts of 2020, now finds himself at the center of a critical debate about accessibility in the digital age. The lawsuit, filed in Federal Court, echoes a recent case brought against SiriusXM, Stitcher, and Pandora by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) for similar reasons1.
The plaintiff, backed by Roger Ver, an outspoken critic of Bitcoin and supporter of the lawsuit, argues that Bitcoin Audible is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA requires services provided to the general public to be accessible to people with disabilities. This includes podcast streams, which are viewed as critical sources of news, entertainment, and education2.
This is not the first time ADA compliance has been called into question for podcasts. The NAD and DRA recently took SiriusXM and its subsidiaries to court for failing to provide captioning and transcripts for their podcasts, leaving more than 48 million deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans unable to fully enjoy their content. The current lawsuit against Bitcoin Audible seeks compensatory damages and an injunction, wants Guy to provide interpretive dance videos for all podcast content, and affirmatively market the availability of those videos to deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
In response to the lawsuit, Swann, known for his ability to make complex ideas accessible in conversation, quipped, "What does he want? Bitcoin Inaudible? That's, like, some 'ultrasound money' bull shit. I mean, just read the damn article."
Meanwhile, toxic Bitcoin maximalist JC Crown, known on Twitter as @barackomaba, took to social media to voice his support for Swann, framing the lawsuit as an attack on Bitcoin. In a series of tweets, Crown argued that the lawsuit was a misguided attempt to control the Bitcoin narrative.
Elsewhere in the Bitcoin community, the lawsuit has stirred a wave of support for Guy. Among the vocal defenders is Cory Klippsten, a known figure in the Bitcoin community and founder of Swan Bitcoin.
Klippsten, in a recent interview, defended Swann, stating, "Guy Swann is a stalwart of the Bitcoin community. His dedication to the cause is unwavering and his podcast, Bitcoin Audible, has been a beacon for many in the crypto world. This lawsuit is not about accessibility, it's about trying to undermine the hard work of individuals who are educating the public about Bitcoin."
He continued, "We at Swan Bitcoin fully back Guy. His work and his dedication to the Bitcoin community are unparalleled. We believe that the court will see this lawsuit for what it is: a misguided attempt to tarnish the reputation of a dedicated Bitcoin educator."
Klippsten also affirmed that they would be taking steps to ensure that Bitcoin Audible and other associated platforms would be more accessible in the future. "We're committed to making Bitcoin education available to everyone," he said, "and that includes making sure our content is accessible to all our listeners, regardless of their hearing abilities. Except this guy suing that Guy. He can stick with Bitcoin Cash."
In a humorous twist to the case, Maj. General Guy Swan, who shares a name with the Bitcoin Audible host but is otherwise unaffiliated, was contacted for comment. In a response that highlights the pervasive reach of cryptocurrency, even in the most unexpected places, an aide responded on his behalf.
"General Swan has no idea what this is about, and he has no idea who Guy Swann is," the aide said. "But this Bitcoin thing is interesting since being invented by a promising Space Force Major at MIT."
As the drama unfolds, all eyes are now on the Federal Court, waiting to see how it rules in a case that could have far-reaching implications for the world of podcasting and beyond.