Locast Seeks Funds for Legal Fight Against Broadcasters

Free TV station signal streamer Locast is looking for some financial help from the public whose interest it has pledged to serve via those streams.

The nonprofit service has launched a GoFundMe page to raise money to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by broadcasters (see below). Locast has also countersued broadcasters, charging the networks with colluding to try to smother its business.

At press time Locast had raised a little under $10,000 toward its goal of $500,000.

“The good news is that we’re winning," said Locast founder David Goodfriend in a statement, by which he meant a court is allowing Locast to continue to stream the shows while it decides whether the service does or does not violate copyright law. “We’ve since launched three new markets – Atlanta, Phoenix, and Seattle – with more markets on the way," he said. But he suggested it would need funds to continue the court fight.

Locast operates under the law written into the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. 111(a)(5)) that allows nonprofit translator services to rebroadcast local stations without receiving a copyright license from the broadcaster and even collect a fee to cover the cost of operations.

Locast.com was launched by the Sports Fans Coalition to provide free streams of TV station signals using a carve-out from copyright law for nonprofit retransmissions.

It claims more than 1 million sign-ups since its launch two years ago. It is available in 16 markets reaching 35% of U.S. TV households.

Viewers don't pay, but are asked for donations, which can be used to cover operating expenses.

ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox sued the creators of Locast in July, claiming that the non-profit streaming service was helping AT&T’s DirecTV and Dish network by providing access to programming during retransmission consent fee disputes and blackouts.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.