Locast, the free New York-based service that streams broadcast television feeds online, on Sept. 27 filed a lawsuit against NBC, CBS, Fox and ABC, alleging the major broadcasts colluded to undermine its business, among other claims.
The service claims to have about 700,000 registered users/donors across 13 cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, N.Y., is counter litigation against against a civil complaint filed by broadcasters in July against Locast and its non-profit advocacy group Sports Fans Coalition NY parent, alleging the platform violated the content copyrights and revenue streams from pay-TV distributors.
Locast founder David Goodfriend, in his countersuit, claims the networks colluded to put pressure on pay-TV operators in an effort to undermine his business model.
Under federal law, broadcasters must make their signals available to the public through a digital antennae. But pay-TV operators pay networks retransmission fees to distribute their signals.
Locast, as a non-profit, argues it merely acts as a “signal booster.”
“This is classic copyright abuse,” read the complaint. “[Networks] have misused copyrights to expand their market power beyond what those copyrights were intended to protect.”
Unique to the case is the fact Locast has received funding from major media companies such as AT&T ($500,000), which owns WarnerMedia, and Google’s YouTube.
The suit alleges the networks threatened YouTube with litigation if it enabled Locast to operate on its servers.
Yet, when AT&T’s DirecTV satellite distributor and U-verse pay-TV channel had a retransmissions fee dispute with CBS this summer, it directed its 6.5 million subs blacked out from CBS content to use Locast.
Indeed, Dish Network offers the Locast app to its satellite and Sling TV subs as alternative on its AirTV devices.