• Kirby Grines

Lo and behold...Locast is being sued

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Major broadcasters including CBS, FOX, NBC, and Disney-owned ABC have teamed up to take aim at the free streaming service upstart, Locast.

A lawsuit has been filed on behalf of the networks and suggests the non-profit has violated copyright law by retransmitting programming without the networks’ permission and compensation.

The lawsuit also alleges that operators like AT&T (who recently donated $500K to the upstart and integrated Locast’s app into its set-top-box) use Locast as a pawn in retransmission negotiations with the broadcasters.

Locast launched in 2018 and is operated by The Sports Fan Coalition New York, who claims that it doesn’t need to pay retransmission fees since it’s not operated as a for-profit entity.

This references Title 17 of the United States Code, which outlines the copyright law in the United States. And it states that secondary transmission of a performance or display of work is not an infringement of copyright if:

“the secondary transmission is not made by a cable system but is made by a governmental body, or other nonprofit organization, without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage, and without charge to the recipients of the secondary transmission other than assessments necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the secondary transmission service”

Although Locast doesn’t require payment, the service frequently asks viewers for donations to cover its operating costs. Although this appears to be within the code, the lawsuit alleges otherwise.

“Locast not only is securing important commercial advantages for itself, (…) but it is also operating in collaboration with, and for the commercial benefit of, two companies (AT&T & Dish) that are among the largest pay-TV distributors in the country."

We’ve seen similar battles play out before. Zediva in 2011 and Aereo in 2014.

Get your popcorn ready. 🍿

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