The streaming service Locast, currently battling broadcasters in court, is getting some assistance from the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation.
On Monday, EFF attorney Mitchell Stoltz officially entered his appearance as co-counsel in a copyright infringement lawsuit pending in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The organization has previously sided with other online streaming companies that have fought broadcasters in court, including Aereo and TVEyes.
Locast, created by the nonprofit Sports Fans Coalition, launched in 2018 with broadcast feeds from 13 stations in the New York City area. The company since expanded to 17 urban markets, reaching 36% of the U.S. market.
The service, available on the major streaming platforms, is free for users but requests donations of at least $5 a month.
Last July, the four major broadcast networks sued the company for allegedly infringing copyright by streaming programs without licenses. The networks are seeking an injunction that would prohibit Locast from streaming TV programs, as well as monetary damages.
Locast has argued the case should be dismissed on the grounds that the Copyright Act specifically allows nonprofits to transmit copyrighted material for free.
But the broadcasters claim that provision of the Copyright Act doesn't apply to Locast, arguing that the company has “commercial purposes.”
The broadcasters noted in their complaint that the company received a $500,000 donation from AT&T, and that its founder, David Goodfriend, is a former Dish Network executive.
The networks specifically alleged that Locast helps Dish and AT&T in several ways, including by enabling them to “gain leverage in negotiations with broadcast stations.” Last year, AT&T directed customers to Locast during the blackout of CBS television stations.
The EFF says it will be working alongside the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Late last year, Locast sought donations through GoFundMe for a legal defense fund. The company, which was seeking $500,000 raised slightly more than $14,000.