"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 said in a statement released Thursday morning.
The decision to suspend its live-streamed service altogether comes after an earlier announcement Wednesday that Locast would no longer interrupt the streams of users to solicit donations.
For Locast, the cascading series of unfortunate events began late Tuesday, when Judge Louis Stanton of the Southern District of New York ruled that Locast's position as a non-profit didn't exempt it from copyright infringement against the plaintiff Big 4 broadcasters, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.
It was a devastating legal blow for the streaming service, which takes local broadcast feeds in more than 30 U.S. markets and combines them in live-streamed bundle.
Founded by former Clinton Administration and Dish Network attorney David Goodfriend, Locast had embarked on a technology model similar to Aereo, a startup that was shot down a decade ago by the U.S. Supreme Court in a similar battle against the same broadcasters.
For its part, however, Locast was confident that because it was operating as a non-profit, seeking a minimum "donation" of $5 a month from its users, it was protected under the Copyright Act.
"The legal basis and consumer offer are totally different," Goodfriend told Next TV in an interview conducted in May 2020. "We are relying on a statute that plainly says on its face that a non-profit may retransmit a broadcast signal. Period. Aereo relied on an interpretation of the performance right that required some complicated engineering. We offer our service for free but ask for a voluntary contribution. Aereo charged a fee. There’s another big difference: Aereo’s founder [Chet Kanojia] was a wealthy entrepreneur and raised millions of dollars from Barry Diller, who was even wealthier. I haven’t made a dime from this project and rely overwhelmingly on small, individual donors."
As of its most recent disclosures, Locast said 2.8 million users had signed up for its service. The company announced deployed into its 35th market, Pittsburgh, in late July.
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.
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