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Locast Cites ‘Abuse’ by Major Broadcasters in Lawsuit Counterclaims

NEW YORK—In its official filing of counterclaims to the lawsuit brought about by broadcasters ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC in July, David R. Goodfriend and Sports Fans Coalition NY Inc.—the stand-ins for the Locast streaming service—make the argument that the plaintiffs have “colluded and misused copyrights” to increase their profits and are now improperly going after a protected non-profit to avoid damage to their bottom line.

Locast, which was founded in January 2018, describes itself as a non-profit service that provides access to local broadcast stations’ content at no charge to its subscribers, citing the 1976 Copyright Act as to why they do not need to pay for the programming. The original lawsuit challenges this claim.

In its counterclaim, Locast alleges that the plaintiff’s claims are “objectively baseless and constitute an unlawful sham.” It says that it fits the description of a non-profit organization protected under section 17 U.S.C. § 111(a)(5) of the Copyright Act; that the claims against Goodfriend are impermissible as her serves SFCNY without compensation; and that the lawsuit is being used as an intimidation factor to shutter the Locast service, as broadcasters waited a year-and-a-half after the services launch to file any claims.

“Plaintiffs have colluded to limit the reasonable public access to the over-the-air signals that they are statutorily required to make available for free, and have opted instead to use their copyright improperly to construct a pay-TV model that forces consumers to forgo over-the-air programming or to pay cable, satellite and online providers for access to programming that was intended to be free,” Locast writes in the filing.

“The pay-TV providers get rich. Plantiffs get rich. The public gets fleeced.”

The counterclaim states that the plaintiffs are essentially confirming this argument in their original lawsuit when they say that Locast “is devaluing their consent rights.”

Locast also describes that the lawsuit has damaged both the reputation for Goodfriend and impacted business dealings and support from potential donors. According to a New York Times report, Locast claims the broadcasters have threatened "business retaliation" against entities that consider working with Locast.

Prior to the lawsuit being filed in July, AT&T had donated $500,000 to Locast and integrated in into DirecTV boxes.

No response has yet been given by the broadcasters to the counterclaims.

Here is the full counterclaim filed in the U.S. District Court—Southern District of New York.