A popular app that streams free broadcast TV channels plans to battle a lawsuit filed by ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox that claims its violating copyright laws and want it shut down.
Locast says it is an "independent, non-profit organization that provides a public service retransmitting free over-the-air broadcasts" and is therefore not bound by the federal regulation.
"Its activities are expressly permitted under the Copyright Act. The fact that no broadcasters have previously filed suit for more than a year and a half suggests that they recognize this,” R. David Hosp, an attorney for Locast, told Newsmax.
"We look forward to defending the claims — and the public's right to receive transmissions broadcast over the airwaves — in the litigation."
In a suit filed in New York City, the network giants say Locast – founded by David Goodfriend, a former deputy staff secretary to President Bill Clinton and an ex-Dish TV exec – is a copy of Aereo 2.0, which aired live and delayed streams of broadcast TV on the Web. The Supreme Court ruled against Aereo 2.0 in 2014 and it was forced to shut down.
"While it pretends to be a public service without any commercial purpose, Locast's marketing and deep connections to AT&T and Dish make clear that it exists to serve its pay-tv patrons," the lawsuit states. "Locast's operation is an acknowledged effort to devalue the entire market for the rights to retransmit Plaintiffs' copyrighted content."
Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, believes Locast should prevail in the case and suggested broadcast networks are unfairly demanding ownership of the transmission of their public networks.
"Since the airwaves are owned by the public, it is expected that TV networks that have broadcast licenses should offer their content for free. That was the intent of granting these licenses in the first place," Ruddy said. "Locast fairly and legally provides a way for the public to access those channels online in a commercial free environment."
Locast's service is free but the company accepts donations. Its officials hope its non-profit status will prevent it from the same fate as Aereo in the courts.
Broadcast TV, also known as over-the-air or terrestrial television, is sent out by radio waves from a central transmitter and can be received by any TV receiver with an antenna.
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