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Non-profit Struggles with Television Networks in Court to Keep Free TV Service Live



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A non-profit organization that provides free online access to broadcast television stations has accused television networks of collusion to restrict access to these channels.

The non-profit target, which runs Locast, the free television service, made the allegations in response. to the case brought by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. Locast alleged networks infringed their copyright in July and demanded a permanent order to suspend their television service. The Locast operator filed its response to the complaint on television networks yesterday and tried to turn the tables, making several counterclaims against television networks.

"Plaintiffs have entered into an agreement to restrict reasonable public access to broadcast signals that are required by law to be provided free of charge," said Locast court documents. "[The networks] have chosen instead to use their copyrights improperly to design and protect a pay-TV model that forces users to opt-out of programming on air or to pay cable, satellite and online providers for access to programming, designed to be free. "

Locast Cites Non-Profit Exemption

While broadcast television networks are available free of charge via aerial with antenna, the networks reportedly raised $ 1

0.1 billion in 2018 through retransmission fees that charge television broadcasters for the right to The networks want to close Locast because the free distribution of their online channels will endanger their retransmission business.

The TV Network case was brought in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York New York-based non-profit sports fan coalition New Locke (SFCNY) and SFCNY founder David Goodford

Locast, currently available in 13 markets in the US, relays local broadcast signals via online streaming service and locates locations users, so the flow of each channel is only available on local broadcast. SFCNY argues in its lawsuit that US copyright law "clearly states that retransmission by non-profit entities does not constitute a breach of Wildwood rights. " In particular, the law states that secondary broadcasts are not copyright infringements if they are made by a "non-profit organization without any purpose of direct or indirect commercial advantage."

Locast does not charge consumers for its service, but requests payment donations

Broadcast: television networks restrict channel coverage

TV networks deliberately obstruct access to their channels over the air, although the US government grants them "free licenses for parts of restricted public owners for frequency spectrum, "SFCNY Alleged.

" The broadcasters agreed to restrict practical access to broadcast signals by broadcasting signals known to be insufficient by all members of the public in the relevant local geographic areas, ", Therefore, the networks do not meet their requirement for a license to operate in the public interest, SFCNY writes.

Submission of SFCNY / Locast continued:

This failure resulted in poor broadcast quality in many markets, force consumers paying for video services that include local or national television programming, including: (i) through cable or satellite providers; (ii) online through authenticated video services from cable or satellite providers; (iii) over-the-air streaming services offered by broadcasters for a monthly fee (for example, CBS All Access); or (iv) virtual pay-TV providers (e.g., YouTubeTV).

SFCNY states that broadcasters "intentionally buy low-end equipment, although other equipment is offered for sale that may provide better coverage on air", but there appears to be no direct evidence of this claim. The request states that Goodfriend received this information "from a major market participant" who in turn received the information "from transmission service providers."

SFCNY also wrote that the networks banned their local affiliates from broadcasting online streaming of

Without Locast on YouTube TV

Television networks also put pressure on TV providers to avoid partnering with Locast, as requested by Locast. For example, when Locast met with senior executives at YouTube TV in April 2019, "executives indicated that they had been told that if YouTube TV provided access to Locast, then YouTube TV would be penalized by the big 4 contractors. transportation contracts for other programming channels broadcast by SFCNY, the SFCNY lawsuit says.

Pay-TV providers complain about the high cost of retransmission of broadcast television channels and could benefit from the extension of the Locast service. Locast received a $ 500,000 donation from AT&T, but says television networks are pushing others to refrain from donating.

In addition to filing a "copyright fraud claim" against Locast, the networks are "threatening business retribution and unfounded legal claims against any current or future donors, supporters or business partners of the counterclaims, Locast said. Cable company RCN "pledged to donate $ 750,000 to SFCNY" but later decided not to do so because of "radio station intimidation," SFCNY said.

Television networks claim that Locast does not qualify for a non-profit exemption under copyright law because it has "commercial purposes". The network's proof of this is the $ 500,000 donation from AT&T and the fact that Goodfriend is a paid Dish lobbyist. SFCNY says it has not received funding from Dish.

SFCNY accuses television networks of conspiring to restrict commerce and other violations of competition law and seek financial damages and disposition that would prevent networks from continuing their copyright infringement case. , "Plaintiffs' lawsuit aims to intimidate defendants into closing the Locast service – and if that strategy does not work, bury defendants in costly and unnecessary litigation," SFCNY wrote.


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