Free TV service Locast ceases operations after lack of rights | leisure

Locast, a service that streamed local television for free in about three dozen US cities, has ceased operations following losses in court against the broadcasting industry.

The owners of the country’s major television networks – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox – sued Locast in 2019, stating that Locast had infringed their copyrights and demanded that the service be terminated.

Locast found that because it’s a nonprofit, it has found a copyright loophole – it can stream the ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox networks without paying them. The companies that own the networks earn billions in fees annually from cable companies that put them in TV packages.

But a federal judge in New York ruled Tuesday that Locast was not protected by this copyright exception. He said Locast is effectively charging users and using that money to expand its service, which is illegal under the law.

While Locast is free, users who haven’t paid $ 5 a month will receive an ad every 15 minutes asking for a donation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the digital rights organization that has defended Locast in court, said the judge “artificially narrowed” the law and that Locast was fulfilling the mission of Congress to ensure Americans have access to their local broadcasters.

Locast has been around for years but flew under the radar when new streaming services emerged that caught people’s attention. It had over 3 million users, EFF said.

“As a not-for-profit organization, Locast was designed from the start to operate in accordance with the strict requirements of the law, but in response to the recent judgments of the court, which we respectfully contradict, we are hereby ceasing to operate with immediate effect,” a The company’s press release said Thursday.

The litigation continues, including an appeal to resolve the remaining issues, said EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz. He did not specify what these problems are.

The major broadcast networks are also available for free in other ways, such as with a TV antenna that you can buy for under $ 10.

A lawyer for the television network did not respond immediately.

Disney owns ABC, ViacomCBS owns CBS, Comcasts NBCUniversal owns NBC and Fox Corp. owns Fox.

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