EFF Sides With Locast in Copyright Case

(Image credit: Locast)

SAN FRANCISCO—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has joined the defense team for Locast streaming service in the copyright lawsuit being levied by major broadcasters ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

The quartet of broadcasters filed suit against Sports Fans Coalition NY Inc., the nonprofit organization that runs Locast, last year. They claim that Locast, which provides free, local over-the-air programming to viewers, is violating the copyright they have for this programming. Locast, however, claims it is covered by an exemption in copyright law that allows nonprofits to retransmit broadcast TV so communities can access local stations offering news, foreign-language programming and local sports because they are noncommercial, using donations to cover its costs.

EFF is now joining the lawsuit as co-counsel for Locast with the Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe lawfirm. The EFF says that it has a long history in defending copyright law and that defending the ability to stream local TV broadcasts is part of its goal.

“Broadcast TV is a vital source of local news and cultural programming for millions of people, which matters now more than ever because of COVID-19,” said Mitch Stoltz, EFF senior staff attorney. “But some broadcasters want to use copyright law to control when, where and how people can receive their local TV broadcasts, and force people to buy expensive pay-TV services just to get their local news and sports.”

Locast is currently operating in 17 cities and has more than a million users.