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US networks sue Locast streaming service

August 1, 2019

The owners of the major US broadcast networks have jointly filed a lawsuit against Locast, a startup streaming service that offers broadcast TV available for free. CBS, Disney, Fox and NBCUniversal claim the service threatens billions of dollars in copyrighted content.

The lawsuit was filed in New York’s Southern District court on July 31st. The parties say that the service is stealing their copyright and has no right to rebroadcast their signal.

Locast, a nonprofit organisation, launched in early 2018 and quicjly became popular with cord cutters but contentious for those in the TV business because broadcasters receive billions of dollars of carriage licence fees from distributors such as cable companies, satellite firms and telecom providers.

Locast now has hundreds of thousands of subscribers and offers its service free of charge, though it does solicit donations on air in between programming, according to the lawsuit.

The filing also alleges that Locast is removes Nielsen codes from the networks, which prevents those services from picking up ratings credit when their programming is viewed – which is a hugely important data come sweeps season.

“Locast is not the Robin Hood of television. Instead, Locast’s founding, funding and operations reveal its decidedly commercial purposes,” the lawsuit states. “It is operating for its own benefit and for the commercial benefit of companies that are among the largest commercial pay-TV distributors in the country.”

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