Did you break the law on Super Sunday?

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Sorry this is late, but when a friend told me about this, I struggled to believe it at first and wanted to do some checking. Apparently the NFL may be out to get your church.

Congregations that showed the Super Bowl on a screen larger than 55 inches are in violation of copyright law, the NFL argues. In fact, if you have a television bigger than 55 inches and invited people over to watch the game, you are a law breaker, according to the league.

So congregations who are showing the Super Bowl on large screens in their sanctuary or projecting the game on the wall and inviting people to watch are breaking the law. The league doesn’t care if you’re charging or not. They don’t care if it’s being used as an outreach tool.

Talk about shooting themselves in the foot. I’d think the league would want everyone they could get to watch the game. The more people who care about the game, the more jerseys and NFL gear they can sell.

So what do you think? Did you break the law this Sunday? And if your a church staff person, what does the league’s stance mean about next year? Will you host a Super Bowl party?

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9 Responses to “Did you break the law on Super Sunday?”

  1. spiritualsamurai Says:

    Let’s watch sumo instead. Much more exciting and not nearly the materialistic emphasis.

  2. wackypreacher Says:

    But it is ok for bars and such to do the same thing and not be penalized for it? Hmm, just seems like a double standard to me. As if the NFL doesn’t have enough money or better things to do than to go after churches for watching the biggest game of the year.

  3. Rex Campbell Says:

    See US Code Title 17 Chapter 1 Section 110 for further information.

  4. Tim Dahl Says:

    Rex, I’m lazy. Can you sum up “US Code Title 17 Chapter 1 Section 110” for me?

    My church didn’t break the law this year, but I sure wanted to! We will probably try to do it next year, because I doubt that we’ll have more than 20 or so show up. However, to go over 55 would be a dream come true!!!

    Tim

  5. Andy Says:

    “And if your a church staff person, what does the league’s stance mean about next year?”

    Here we see the danger of using spell-check instead of actually proofing the post. Everyone knows that “your” is an adjective implying posession (e.g. your office) and “you’re” is a contraction combining the words “you” and “are” (e.g. you’re a church staff person). Spell check will not catch it, because “your” is a legitimate word. In this case it’s not used properly. Really.

  6. Rex Campbell Says:

    Tim,
    US Code is not easily summarized nor should it be and therein lies part of the problem. Failure to properly investigate what is permissible and not is not an excuse.

    Wackypreacher, the code apparently makes some provision for the example you cite.

    Below is an excerpt and should be considered in context:

    Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, the following are not infringements of copyright:

    (5)
    (A) except as provided in subparagraph (B), communication of a transmission embodying a performance or display of a work by the public reception of the transmission on a single receiving apparatus of a kind commonly used in private homes, unless—
    (i) a direct charge is made to see or hear the transmission; or
    (ii) the transmission thus received is further transmitted to the public;
    (B) communication by an establishment of a transmission or retransmission embodying a performance or display of a nondramatic musical work intended to be received by the general public, originated by a radio or television broadcast station licensed as such by the Federal Communications Commission, or, if an audiovisual transmission, by a cable system or satellite carrier, if—
    (i) in the case of an establishment other than a food service or drinking establishment, either the establishment in which the communication occurs has less than 2,000 gross square feet of space (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose), or the establishment in which the communication occurs has 2,000 or more gross square feet of space (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose) and—
    (I) if the performance is by audio means only, the performance is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space; or
    (II) if the performance or display is by audiovisual means, any visual portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 4 audiovisual devices, of which not more than 1 audiovisual device is located in any 1 room, and no such audiovisual device has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches, and any audio portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space;
    (ii) in the case of a food service or drinking establishment, either the establishment in which the communication occurs has less than 3,750 gross square feet of space (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose), or the establishment in which the communication occurs has 3,750 gross square feet of space or more (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose) and—
    (I) if the performance is by audio means only, the performance is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space; or
    (II) if the performance or display is by audiovisual means, any visual portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 4 audiovisual devices, of which not more than one audiovisual device is located in any 1 room, and no such audiovisual device has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches, and any audio portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space;
    (iii) no direct charge is made to see or hear the transmission or retransmission;
    (iv) the transmission or retransmission is not further transmitted beyond the establishment where it is received; and
    (v) the transmission or retransmission is licensed by the copyright owner of the work so publicly performed or displayed;

    What appears above are only a few paragraphs excerpted from the code and posting it here is not a substitute for an informed legal opinion.

  7. John Says:

    Andy, it shames me to admit that you are correct. I will leave the error as a shining reminder to all bloggers to proof posts before hitting the publish button. All of us have been warned.

  8. Tim Dahl Says:

    Rex,

    Wow…

    I am impressed at your grasp of the legal code, yet slightly saddened by the complexity of it as well.

    Good job!

    Tim

  9. spiritualsamurai Says:

    If you show it on a wall you are not using a screen. Is not legal language about precisely using words? No “screen” no violation.

    Is legalism silly!

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