Locast local TV streaming service shuts down after losing big court battle

Locast local TV streaming service shuts down after losing big court battle

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Locast local TV steaming service shuts down after losing big court battle
Say good-bye to Locast.
Photo: Locast

Locast suspended operations after losing a critical court fight with TV broadcasters. The streaming service gave users access to their local TV stations over the internet. The networks objected that it was a copyright violation, and a court agreed.

The federal court made its ruling Tuesday, and Thursday Locast sent a message to its users: “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.”

The rise and fall of Locast

Locast allowed users in select cities to tune into local TV stations over the internet. It was available on the web, as well as through an app for iPhone, iPad and Apple TV. The service argued that it was essentially acting as a signal booster for the broadcasts, an action covered by copyright law.

Plus, it claimed it wasn’t charging for access. Locast is non-profit and got its revenue from contributions from users. The service called these gifts but Judge Louis Stanton of the Southern District of New York ruled that they were actually fees.

The service “solicits, and receives, substantial amounts in charges from recipients for its uninterrupted service,” wrote Stanton in his ruling. The judge also pointed out that Locast took in much more revenue than was needed to maintain its streaming service. Locast said it needed the extra money to expand its service to new areas.

A statement from the lawyer representing ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC said, “The federal court’s ruling is a victory for copyright law, vindicating our claim that Locast is illegally infringing copyrights in broadcast television content in violation of federal law.”

The result of the court’s decision was the suspension of the Locast streaming service. It’s not known if the company will try to find a way to resume service.