Locast has announced that it is suspending its TV streaming service starting today, following a court ruling earlier this week in a lawsuit from ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, which jointly sued the nonprofit service shortly after it launched.
“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,” an email to Locast users sent out this morning reads.
Locast was launched in 2019 as an internet-based alternative to over-the-air television, rebroadcasting local, free over-the-air signals over the internet to users in those areas. Unlike Aereo, a similar service that was shut down after a lawsuit ruled it was violating copyright by rebroadcasting over-the-air networks online, Locast relied on a loophole, using its status as a nonprofit to retransmit broadcasts.
Locast didn’t technically charge a fee, although it frequently interrupted its free streams to request that users sign up for recurring $5 donations to keep the service running. But ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC sued anyway, and it seems that the court has sided with the broadcasters, ruling earlier this week that Locast’s requests for donations exceeded “the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the service” and that it therefore didn’t meet the exception provided by copyright law.
Locast first responded by announcing on Wednesday evening it would simply remove the donation requests. “This means that anyone located in a market we serve who signs up for Locast will get the service without interruption, regardless of whether or not they donate,” the company said.
Today’s email, however, seems to have reversed that plan, with the service shutting down entirely. Locast has yet to announce what its plans for the future are or if the service will be returning in some form at a later date.