ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC continue the free TV streaming app Locast

Broadast TV streaming app Locast had hoped that qualification as a not-for-profit could be enough to prevent the wrath of the large networks and the same downfall as Aereo.


It was wrong in the first part. We will have to see it about the second.

Today, all four major broadcasters – ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – have filed a lawsuit against Locast on the grounds that the free service infringes copyright law by resending their free over-the-air television signals to its customers. . The Wall Street Journal first broke news of the complaint.

Locast does not charge for streaming access, but encourages users to make donations to keep the service running. "We really did our homework", David Goodfriend, founder of Locast, told The New York Times earlier this year. "We work according to parameters designed to comply with the law."

At that time, Locast had attracted more than 60,000 subscribers, and the broadcasters had already taken note of it but had not yet taken action. Now we are there. Goodfriend said he was ready for a possible confrontation with ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. There is an exception in copyright law for retransmission by a non-profit, and that is what the company will bet its defense on. A legal loss can be harmful to the networks, but that does not prevent them from forgetting Locast.

"The operation of Locast is a recognized attempt to devalue the entire market for the rights to resend the copyrighted content of claimants," the court said. "Indeed, defendants have frankly admitted that their unauthorized streaming service helps authorized services that pay for the rights to stream over-the-air broadcasts or otherwise send in their efforts to negotiate lower fees for those rights." Probably this refers to a report that Charter representatives pointed out to customers at Locast briefly during a blackout that arose from a dispute over reshipment rates.

But the broadcasters go a little further and draw AT&T and Dish in this battle because of their support from Locast. “Locast not only ensures important commercial benefits for itself in forms such as nationwide distribution of the application and valuable viewer data, but it also cooperates with and for the commercial benefit of two companies that are among the biggest rewards – TV distributors in the country & # 39 ;, is the complaint. With Locast as a handy backup, TV providers would be more willing to drop local channels from their cable packages, the broadcasters claim.


AT&T added the Locast app to DirecTV and U-verse set-top boxes in May and contributed to the service. That level of integration seems a step too far for the networks. As far as Dish is concerned, Goodfriend previously worked for the satellite provider under Charlie Ergen, who regularly criticized the increasing transmission rates collected by networks. "No, Charlie didn't give me any money," Goodfriend said Times. "Charlie just said," Good luck. "ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC seem to believe that the connection goes deeper than goodwill and motivational support.

This situation is somewhat similar to that of Aereo, a paid subscription service that offered access to the four major broadcast networks. Aereo's defense was different: it gave each subscriber its own mini-antenna and insisted that this strategy follow the law. The broadcasters disagreed, and the case went all the way to the US Supreme Court, where Aereo was handed a defeat that stopped it quickly.

The parallel is not lost with the broadcasters. "Locast is simply Aereo 2.0, a company built on illegal use of broadcast content," the lawsuit says. "Although it appears to be a public service with no commercial purpose, Locast's marketing and the deep links with AT&T and Dish make it clear that it exists to serve its pay-TV customers."

"Locast is not the Robin Hood of television," said the networks. "Instead, the establishment, financing and activities of Locast reveal its stated commercial goals."

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