Locast Suspends Service as Legal Battle with Broadcasters Continues

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In a message for users this morning, Locast announced that it is suspending operations, effective immediately.

The message says “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 shut down comes after a ruling against Locast in the case in which U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton wrote that income from the $5 donations required for uninterrupted viewing was used for expanding the service, which isn’t permitted under an exemption to the Copyright Act.

Locast’s Locast’s attorney R. David Hosp, Partner Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe responded with a statement, saying “We are disappointed in the ruling today and disagree with its conclusions and reasoning. Our client is in the process of evaluating the decision and formulating next steps. Locast provides a valuable service to its over 3 million users who are otherwise unable to access the over-the-air broadcasts to which they are entitled by virtue of their location or economic circumstances. Our client remains committed to its mission of delivering free, local broadcast TV service to all Americans, and particularly for those consumers who can’t afford pay-TV services like cable, satellite, or streaming, or who can’t get their local broadcast channels using an over-the-air antenna.”

After the ruling, Locast announced that it would no longer interrupt programming to ask users for a monthly donation. “As you probably know, the federal district court in the Southern District of New York issued a ruling in the case brought against Locast by the big media companies.  The court concluded that by interrupting programming to ask users for donations, and by suspending those interruptions based on whether a user makes contributions, Locast actually was charging a fee, not merely seeking a voluntary contribution,” Locast told users in an email.

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