If you’re not familiar with Locast it’s most likely because you don’t live in the New York area where it’s available. Locast is streaming service run by the non-profit organization Sports Fans Coalition NY. The organization already operates the service in New York and has just announced an expansion to the Dallas, Texas market. They’ve also announced that three more major markets will be coming soon.
You might be wondering what the catch is here and how Locast can offer streaming local TV channels for free. The short of it is. Rebroadcasting a TV signal is illegal and violates copyright if it’s done for profit. Since the Coalition isn’t for profit, they should be in the clear. The Sports Fans Coalition explains it more in depth here:
“Before 1976, under two Supreme Court decisions, any company or organization could receive an over-the-air broadcast signal and retransmit it to households in that broadcaster’s market without receiving permission (a copyright license) from the broadcaster. Then, in 1976, Congress passed a law overturning the Supreme Court decisions and making it a copyright violation to retransmit a local broadcast signal without a copyright license. This is why cable and satellite operators, when retransmitting a broadcast signal, either must operate under a statutory ‘compulsory’ copyright license, or receive permission from the broadcaster.
“But Congress made an exception. Any ‘non-profit organization’ could make a ‘secondary transmission’ of a local broadcast signal, provided the non-profit did not receive any ‘direct or indirect commercial advantage’ and either offered the signal for free or for a fee ‘necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs’ of providing the service. 17 U.S.C. 111(a)(5).”
Sports are a big deal in Texas and almost every other major city with sports teams. So being able to stream local channels over the internet, including mobile, is going to be very appealing to many. The Sports Fans Coalition does accept donations for its efforts but it does stream the content free of charge. The streaming is locked to those markets though, so you can’t stream if you’re not in that market. Unless you use alternative methods, but I digress.
With the organization expanding into Dallas and three new markets soon. One wonders if they’ll be challenged at some point by the network powers that be.
Last Updated on August 6, 2018.