Locast suspends local TV streaming service in wake of court ruling

The non-profit lost legal protections this week.

Telecommunication mast with microwave link and TV transmitter antennas over a blue sky. (Pakin Songmor via Getty Images)

Local TV streaming service Locast has closed up shop, at least for the time being. It suspended operations following a ruling on Tuesday that it couldn't use its non-profit status as a legal shield. Networks have claimed that Locast violated their copyright.

"We are suspending operations, effective immediately," Locast wrote in an email to users. "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."

Locast argued that it was acting as a booster for local signals, which third parties are allowed to do under US copyright law, to help people who can't pick up a signal with an antenna to watch local TV. However, CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox (which were reportedly backed by AT&T and Dish Network) felt that Locast was dodging carriage fees.

The court also took issue with the $5/month payments Locast took from users to ostensibly cover running costs. A judge said Locast was using those funds to expand into more markets and that it was bringing in “far more money from user charges than was necessary.”