Locast Joined by EFF in Fight to Stream Local Channels for Free

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) joined Sports Fan Coalition NY, Inc, the nonprofit behind Locast, in facing copyright infringement claims by broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX.

Locast is a free streaming service (which asks for viewer donations to stay free) that allows viewers in select cities across the country to receive local OTA programming. Locast says that broadcasters must, by law, make this content available for free. The service is currently available in 17 metro areas.

Last year, ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX teamed up to file a suit against Locast, claiming it violates copyright laws. Locast responded that it is protected by an exemption to copyright law, put in place by Congress, that allows nonprofits to retransmit broadcast TV so communities can access independent, local stations. The streaming service accused the networks of antitrust violations. To help with legal fees, Locast created a GoFundMe page. The page has raised $14,394 of its $500,000 goal.

“Broadcast TV is a vital source of local news and cultural programming for millions of people which matters now more than ever because of COVID-19,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mitch Stoltz.  “But some broadcasters want to use copyright law to control when, where, and how people can receive their local TV broadcasts, and force people to buy expensive pay-TV services just to get their local news and sports.”

EFF joins the case as co-counsel alongside law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. EFF has a long history fighting copyright abuse and defending innovation that benefits the public.

“EFF has worked for many years to defend people’s right to access and use content with the devices and technologies of their choice,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “Defending Locast’s ability to stream local TV broadcasts using the Copyright Act’s nonprofit provision is part of that goal.”

“I am grateful beyond words to EFF for representing our non-profit and the consumers who rely on Locast,” said SFCNY Chairman and Locast founder David Goodfriend.  “Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, when Americans need emergency news and information from their local broadcasters, and when so many of our fellow Americans are suffering economically, Locast provides a critical public service.”

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