NEW YORK—Locast, the non-profit streaming service that offers local TV channels to viewers at no cost, is calling on the U.S. people to help fight the major broadcasters angling to shut it down by launching a GoFundMe page to raise legal funds.
In July 2019, the parent companies of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC filed a lawsuit in New York arguing that Locast does not fall under the copyright provision from the Copyright Act of 1976 that allows non-profit translator services to rebroadcast local stations without a copyright license from the broadcasters.
“Locast is not a public service devoted to viewers whose reception is affected by tall buildings. Nor is Locast acting for the benefit of consumers who, according to Locast when promoting its purportedly free service, ‘pay too much,’” the lawsuit reads. “Locast is not the Robin Hood of television; instead, Locast’s founding, funding and operations reveal its decidedly commercial purposes.”
Locast followed by countersuing, accusing the group of illegal collusion to undermine them.
While the case is ongoing, the courts have allowed Locast to continue streaming local broadcast channels where it is operational. It has also added additional markets in the months since the lawsuit, including in Atlanta, Phoenix and Seattle.
“What Disney and the giant broadcasters don’t want the public to know is that they are attacking a tiny non-profit serving the public interest with free local broadcast channels over the internet, and that these companies just want to protect their billions of dollars in profits and fees for channels that are supposed to be free to the public in the first place,” said David Goodfriend, Locast founder. “Now that technology can deliver local broadcast channels over the internet without costing consumers an arm and a leg, Disney and these huge broadcasters will go to any length to shut us down, including through baseless claims, using expensive New York City and Washington, D.C., law firms.”
Locast launched the GoFundMe page on Dec. 18. To date it has raised $9,759 of its $500,000 goal from more than 300 donors.
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