Many people in the U.S. have cut the cord in recent years and decided to leave cable behind. According to The Trade Desk’s 2021 Future of TV survey of more than 2,100 U.S. consumers, 27 percent of cable TV subscribers plan to end their subscriptions this year—which means an increasingly number of TV fans are solely relying on streaming services to watch their favorite shows. But now, one of the streaming services that serves more than half of people in the U.S. is being shut down immediately. If you have this streaming service, beware that it’s being shut off as of today and may never return. To see if you’re going dark, read on.
Locast streaming service has been suspended.
Locast, a “not-for-profit service offering users access to broadcast television stations over the internet,” has been suspended effective immediately following a lawsuit. The four biggest broadcast networks in the U.S.—ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox—all filed a lawsuit against Locast on the basis of copyright infringement, insisting the streaming service was stealing their programming, as Deadline reports.
Locast had positioned itself as a non-profit that didn’t charge for its streaming service, which would allow low-income people who couldn’t afford cable or other streaming subscriptions to gain access to TV. However, as The Hollywood Reporter explains, the service encouraged users to donate $5 a month to help keep the service running. They interrupted streaming every 15 minutes to show ads asking for donations, which was the basis of the broadcasters’ case.
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The court ruled that Locast’s fundraising from its users was unlawful.
The U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton ruled that under the law, fundraising can only be used to help pay for the service, but can’t be used to expand the non-profit into new markets. “Since portions of its user payments fund Locast’s expansion, its charges exceed those ‘necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the secondary transmission service,’ which is the only exemption granted in Section 111 (a) (5),” the judge ruled.
Gerson Zweifach, counsel for ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, told Deadline, “The federal court’s ruling is a victory for copyright law, vindicating our claim that Locast is illegally infringing copyrights in broadcast television content in violation of federal law.” The broadcasters will now seek a permanent injunction to suspend Locast’s secondary streaming of the channels’ programming for good.
Locast said they “respectfully disagree” with the court’s ruling.
On Aug. 2, Locast sent out an email to its users and posted a message on its homepage to alert consumers that the service was being suspended. “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 message read.
Locast shutting down will impact 55 percent of people in the U.S. across 36 local markets who use the service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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Many streaming services have been shut down this year, but none for controversial reasons like Locast.
While Locast’s suspension is the most controversial, it isn’t the only streaming service to be suspended recently. Over the past year, a handful of streaming services have been shut down. On Aug. 31, Disney announced that it would be shutting down its standalone Hotstar streaming service in the U.S. by the end of 2022, a service known for showing live cricket matches and various South Asian programs. T-Mobile also ended its TVision streaming service in late April and in Oct. 2020, Quibi, the short-form streaming platform for mobile devices, shut down just six months after launching.
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