A TV set left on a sidewalk with a sign that says,

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A nonprofit organization that provides free online access to broadcast TV stations has accused TV networks of colluding to limit access to those channels.

The nonprofit that runs Locast, the free TV service, made the allegations in an answer to a lawsuit filed by ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC. The networks alleged in July that Locast is violating their copyrights and are seeking a permanent injunction to shut the TV service down. The Locast operator filed its answer to the TV networks’ complaint yesterday and tried to turn the tables by making several counterclaims against the TV networks.

“Plaintiffs have colluded to limit the reasonable public access to the over-the-air signals that they are statutorily required to make available for free,” Locast’s court filing says. “[The networks] have opted instead to use their copyrights improperly to construct and protect a pay-TV model that forces consumers to forgo over-the-air programming or to pay cable, satellite, and online providers for access to programming that was intended to be free.”

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