A case that started with the hype that someone finally cracked the code to provide free and legal broadcast streaming ends with a payment of $ 32 million in copyright damages to ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC. After suspending its service following a devastating legal loss, Locast also accepted a permanent injunction, according to court documents filed Thursday.
The popular application for cable cutters debuted two years ago. The New York Times announced his arrival on the scene with the title: “Locast, a free network TV streaming app, would like to be sued. “
But when the case went to court, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC questioned whether Locast was really “free” or a front for bigger ambitions.
This was important because copyright law allows a limited exception for the secondary transmission of broadcasts when they are “produced by a government agency or other non-profit organization, without any aim of direct or indirect commercial advantage”.
In late August, a New York federal judge examined how Locast raised funds – soliciting donations from users and shutting down service every 15 minutes for non-paying users – and where the money went. The judge ruled that the fundraising could only be used to cover the costs of running the service, not to expand it into new markets. Locast, which had expanded to 36 markets serving 55% of the US population, had exceeded an exemption.
While technically the judge had yet to rule that Locast had infringed copyright, only that Locast could not raise its main affirmative defense (the service had other defenses), the parties had reached an unusual deal. at the start of the dispute. The broadcasters got Locast to accept an injunction should a federal judge reject its main defense. Broadcasters quickly sought to keep Locast on that promise, and in mid-September, just in time for the NFL season and the MLB playoffs, where millions of cord cutters may have turned to Locast. for the broadcast of local matches, agreed the judge.
Now, the injunction extends by regulation to those who run Locast, including founder David Goodfriend, and includes a payment of $ 32 million in statutory damages.