Locast to fork over $32M to settle broadcaster-led copyright suitLocast to fork over $32M to settle broadcaster-led copyright suit
Financial settlement surfaces weeks after a New York court hit Locast with a permanent injunction that banned the company from operating a service that delivered free streams of local broadcast TV feeds.
October 28, 2021
In the wake of a court order that permanently shut down Locast, the erstwhile provider of free streams of local broadcast TV feeds is now on the hook to pay $32 million in statutory damages after agreeing to settle a copyright lawsuit brought on by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBCUniversal.
The settlement effectively ends the run of Locast, a service founded by former Dish Network exec David Goodfriend and operated by a nonprofit organization called the Sports Fans Coalition NY (SFCNY). Launched in 2018, Locast had accumulated about 3 million registered users, and was viewed by some pay-TV operators as a service that provided some leverage in their retransmission negotiations with local broadcasters. AT&T, which recently spun-off its pay-TV business, donated $500,000 to SFCNY back in 2019.
Figure 1: Locast's geofenced its now-defunct free streaming service, but encouraged viewers to make monthly donations to help defray operating costs.
Click here for a larger version of this image.
The settlement was outlined in a judgment handed down Thursday by Judge Louis L. Stanton of the US District Court Southern District of New York. It arrives more than a month after the court issued a permanent injunction that banned Locast from operating. That followed an earlier court ruling that Locast's local broadcast TV streaming service was not exempt from copyright rules.
And that all came in the wake of a December 2019 agreement made by Locast and the major US broadcasters that Locast would enter a permanent injunction if the court determined that the streaming service did not qualify for the aforementioned copyright exemption.
Locast, which suspended operations on September 2, had pinned its hopes that its local broadcast TV service would qualify for a copyright exemption typically set aside for nonprofits.
Locast, originally was available for free to registered users, with programming interrupted every 15 minutes by ads requesting donations, starting at $5 per month. Locast users who made donations did not see those program-interrupting ads. The court ultimately determined that Locast's donation-seeking efforts extended beyond what is "necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating" the service, and that funds coming way of those donations were used to help fuel Locast's market expansions.
Locast was the latest provider to fail in its attempt to provide streams of local broadcast TV services and circumvent traditional retransmission deals. Aereo and Ivi met similar fates.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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