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Locast Shuts Down For Now Amid Legal Battle

Ben Bowman

In a terse email to users this morning, Locast announced it was suspending operations entirely.

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.

Thank you.

The Streamable has collected other ways you can stream local channels in Locast’s absence.

The Streamable contacted Locast’s legal team. “The case will continue, likely including an appeal, to resolve the remaining issues in the case,” said attorney Mitch Stoltz with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The problem remains: broadcasters keep using copyright law to control where and how people can access the local TV that they’re supposed to be getting for free.”

Users who try to access the service today get an error message like this:

This shutdown affects users in 36 U.S. markets:

  • Atlanta
  • Baltimore
  • Boston
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago
  • Cleveland
  • Columbus
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Houston
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles
  • Madison
  • Miami
  • Milwaukee
  • Minneapolis
  • New York
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Phoenix
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rapid City
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Sacramento
  • San Francisco
  • Scranton
  • Seattle
  • Sioux City
  • Sioux Falls
  • Tampa Bay
  • Tri-Cities
  • Washington DC
  • West Palm Beach

Last night, Locast announced that they will be “suspending immediately all programming interruptions to request donations.” Previously, customers had to pay a $5.50 monthly donation, or their stream would cut out every 15 minutes.

On Tuesday, a copyright infringement lawsuit by ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC was allowed to continue after Locast, the donation-based streaming service, was denied a summary judgment, while the broadcasters were granted a partial summary judgment in their favor.

Judge Louis Stanton, a federal judge in New York, denied Locast’s request for a summary judgment, saying “Based on the undisputed facts, it is clear that the Locast service is not offered without charges other than those necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating its service.”

As part of the judgment, it was disclosed that Locast generated more than $4.3 million revenue, netting $1.9 million after $2.4 million in operational expenses. The Judge stated that the requirement to pay to avoid interruptions, is “not merely a recurring gift to a charitable cause.”

Locast contends that the profits are used to expand to new markets, which the Judge explained is not part of the exemption.

If the case proceeds to trial, the court will now have to set a date. The Big Four media companies have already requested that it be pushed to 2022.

Locast

Locast is a live TV streaming service offering access to local TV affiliates in 36 markets. The service has been suspended because of a legal fight with broadcasters. Whether or not it returns, viewers have other options to watch local channels for free.

While the service could be used for free, users who didn’t pay for the membership tier would get a prompt to donate every 15 minutes. After the prompt, users were kicked back to the home screen and booted off the channel they were watching.

Locast could be viewed within Sling TV on select devices.

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