A nonprofit organization that provides free streaming services for broadcasting TV stations through a loophole in copyright law went dark Thursday after an adverse court ruling earlier this week.
Locast's decision marks a significant blow to cord-cutters, many of whom used the service to stream local channels without buying a TV or paying for cable service. The major TV networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox — jointly sued Locast in 2019. On Wednesday, a federal judge in New York sided with them.
The TV networks alleged Locast must "secure the consent of the broadcasters to retransmit the broadcast signals" in the same fashion as cable, satellite, or online video services. Locast challenged the lawsuit, saying it was exempt from copyright laws because it was a nonprofit organization.
"As a non-profit, Locast was designed from the very beginning to operate in accordance with the strict letter of the law, but in response to the court’s recent rulings, with which we respectfully disagree, we are hereby suspending operations, effective immediately."
Locast, which claims to have 2.8 million registered users, launched in 2019 as an online website that rebroadcast TV channels that are already free and local to users in those areas over the internet.
Although the website didn't require users to pay for its services, it interrupted user video streams every 15 minutes unless they made a $5 monthly donation to the organization.
The court ruled this week that Locast's requests for donations were more than “the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the service.” Therefore, the nonprofit group did not meet the requirements for being exempt from copyright law.
Additionally, cord-cutters can subscribe to Paramount+ for $5 per month (and is often available for free with promotions), which includes local channels.
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Original Author: Nihal Krishan