Disney refunds parents for Baby Einstein DVDs following legal threats
LONDON - Disney is offering refunds to millions of parents in the US who bought its 'Baby Einstein' learning DVDs, after being threatened with legal action over its claims that the DVDs provided educational benefits.
The 'Baby Einstein' DVDs, which include titles such as 'Baby Mozart' and 'Baby Shakespeare', are simple productions featuring music, puppets, bright colours, and not many words.
Disney originally marketed the DVDs as educational products that could assist in a baby's development; however it dropped the word "educational" from its marketing in 2006 after the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission, alleging false advertising.
Subsequently, research conducted by the University of Washington in 2007 also cast doubt on the educational benefits of DVDs aimed at babies, including the 'Baby Einstein' DVDs, and indicated that the DVDs may do more harm than good.
The Washington University study found that the use of educational DVDs correlates to smaller vocabularies in children aged six months to 18-months-old.
It found that for every hour that these infants watched the DVDs, they understood six to eight fewer words than babies who did not watch the programmes.
After being threatened with legal action by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Disney is now offering refunds to US customers who bought any 'Baby Einstein' DVDs between 5 June 2004 and 4 September 2009.
Disney said the move was merely an extension of an existing refund policy.
Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said: "We see it as an acknowledgment by the leading baby video company that baby videos are not educational, and we hope other baby media companies will follow suit by offering refunds."
The refund covers only households in North America but British campaigners said they would be pushing for refunds for parents in Britain.
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