A free option watch local television channels is no longer available to viewers around the country, including Sioux Falls.

This week Locast subscribers were greeted with a message from the company on its website:

Locast.org

The shutdown comes on the heels of a ruling in U.S. District Court in Southern New York, where Judge Louis Stanton sided with the parent companies of ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC, who had sued Locast in July 2019 alleging that the service violated the networks' copyrights.

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According to ARSTechnica, Locast claimed to have a right to broadcast based on a 1976 law that allowed 'secondary transmissions by nonprofit organizations if they receive no commercial advantage and do not charge users anything more than what's necessary to defray the actual and reasonable costs of maintaining and operating the secondary transmission service'.

Judge Stanton ruled that Locast was not covered by the law because the company made $4.37 million in user fees in 2020, an amount he deemed was far above what was needed to cover operations.

Locast was offered in 36 geographic markets, including Sioux Falls. The company claims that 55 percent of the U.S. population was using the service.

The free version of Locast was stopped every 15 minutes for a donation request. Users had the option of paying $5 a month to eliminate those appeals.

Locast got its start in 2009 when former FCC, congressional, and White House lawyer David Goodfriend formed a nonprofit fan-advocacy group called Sports Fans Coalition (SFC) to give sports fans a greater voice in public policy impacting professional and collegiate sports. In 2017, SFC launched the nation’s first non-profit digital translator service in New York City under the name, 'Locast' - a mashup of 'local' and 'broadcast'.

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