Locast.org, a nonprofit local broadcast TV streaming service, launched a fundraising effort to protect Americans’ rights to watch their local TV channels for free. The Locast GoFundMe page is raising money for its legal defense fund to fight major broadcasters such as CBS, NBC, FOX and DISNEY’s ABC who have allegedly conspired, colluded and sued Locast to shut it down.
Viewers and concerned citizens are already donating to the Locast GoFundMe page, many expressing in the comments section the difficulties they’ve encountered over the decades with viewing their local TV channels over-the-air. They also claim there is an urgent need for the important public service Locast is providing by making local TV channels available to more than 40 million households over the internet.
“The good news is that we’re winning, and the courts permitted Locast to continue streaming your local broadcast channels for free while the lawsuit is pending,” said Locast founder David Goodfriend. “We’ve since launched three new markets – Atlanta, Phoenix, and Seattle – with more markets on the way. Every day, we add new users who choose to donate as little as $5 a month, helping to offset operating costs. But we also need our ‘Locast Nation’ viewers and citizens concerned about losing access to free local TV to donate to our GoFundMe page to help us keep up the court fight.”
Locast operates under the law written into the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. 111(a)(5)) that allows nonprofit translator services to rebroadcast local stations without receiving a copyright license from the broadcaster and even collect a fee to cover the cost of operations.
In July 2019, a year and a half after Locast started offering its public service, the parent companies of ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX sued Locast in an effort to shut it down. These big media companies claimed in their filings that Locast is not a real nonprofit deserving to operate under the copyright provision. Locast countersued the giant media companies, defending Locast’s proper interpretation of the Copyright Act and accusing them of illegal collusion in an effort to undermine a small nonprofit.
Goodfriend continued, “What DISNEY and the giant broadcasters don’t want the public to know is that they are attacking a tiny nonprofit serving the public interest with free local broadcast channels over the Internet, and that these companies just want to protect their billions of dollars in profits and fees for channels that are supposed to be free to the public in the first place. Americans have tolerated this for far too long. Now that technology can deliver local broadcast channels over the internet without costing consumers an arm and a leg, DISNEY and these huge broadcasters will go to any length to shut us down, including through baseless claims, using expensive New York City and Washington, D.C., law firms,” he said.
More than 1 million viewers have signed up for Locast since its inception nearly two years ago. Locast is now available in 16 large and small cities, reaching 35% of U.S. TV households.
For decades, many viewers have been unable to watch their free local TV channels over-the-air due to the topography or buildings blocking their signals. Other viewers simply can’t afford to pay the rising rates charged by cable and satellite TV providers to receive their free over-the-air local channels. And some want to watch their local channels on mobile devices outside the home. Locast solves these problems by making it free and convenient for viewers and cord cutters to watch their local TV channels via internet-connected computers, smart TVs, phones or tablets.
Read more in a white paper on this topic.
For more information or to sign up for free for Locast, visit www.locast.org. Follow Locast on Facebook and on Twitter @LocastOrg.