Networks Score Federal Court Victory Against Streaming Service

Networks Score Federal Court Victory Against Streaming Service locast logo on laptop screen (Dreamstime)

By Eric Mack | Wednesday, 01 September 2021 11:02 AM

Network broadcasters scored a victory in a New York federal court Tuesday against a digital app that streams over-the-air television stations.

The closely watched copyright case delivered a partial summary judgment against Locast for ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, who argued the streaming service was taking donations from users and interrupting service for those who had not donated.

"Since portions of its user payments fund Locast's expansion, its charges exceed those 'necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the secondary transmission service,' which is the only exemption granted in Section 111 (a) (5)," U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton's order read.

The law dictates fundraising can only be used to cover costs of operating the service and not expanding it. Locast operates in 36 markets, is available to 55% of the U.S. population, and has more than three million users, according to its website.

Locast is a free service, but those who do not donate $5 a month have their service interrupted a few times every hour, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which called it "freemium," a mix of free and premium uninterrupted service to broadcast over-the-air live, local television stations to users.

Locast has been popular with users who have dropped their cable service for cheaper streaming options. Similarly, Aereo lost a case in the Supreme Court for its streaming service.

"We are disappointed in the ruling today and disagree with its conclusions and reasoning," Locast's attorneys wrote in a statement, The Streamable reported. "Our client is in the process of evaluating the decision and formulating next steps.

"Locast provides a valuable service to its over 3 million users who are otherwise unable to access the over-the-air broadcasts to which they are entitled by virtue of their location or economic circumstances. Our client remains committed to its mission of delivering free, local broadcast TV service to all Americans, and particularly for those consumers who can't afford pay-TV services like cable, satellite, or streaming, or who can't get their local broadcast channels using an over-the-air antenna."