The Law Regarding Super Bowl Events

Posted on April 7, 2008

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) brandished enough political ire to elicit a favorable response on February 19th from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that will now allow churches to legally host Super Bowl events.

In a letter to Senator Hatch dated Tuesday, Goodell said that the NFL would not object to "live showings – regardless of screen size – of the Super Bowl" by religious organizations (as long as admission is not charged and the showings are on premises that the church uses on a "routine and customary" basis), according to The Washington Post.

Sen. Specter had introduced a bill (S2591) February 4 proposing to amend chapter 1 of title 17, United States Code, to provide an exemption from exclusive rights in copyright for certain nonprofit organizations to display live football games, and "for other purposes."

It took only 13 months—this is “lightning speed” in the world of copyright deliberations—to render a positive solution. Here’s the stat sheet on how things unraveled. Just prior to the 2007 Super Bowl, the NFL intercepted an Indiana congregation's plans to host a Super Bowl party February 4th, leading many churches nationwide to abruptly drop their Super Bowl events and tackle the issue of potential copyright infringements. (See the Copyright Queen Blog article on 1/25/08 at http://www.churchca.com/dn2/pt/blog/default.aspx?id=7&t=NFL-Intercepts-Church-Plans-for-Super-Bo.

NFL officials spotted a promotion of Fall Creek Baptist Church's "Super Bowl Bash" on the church Web site last week and overnighted a letter to the pastor demanding the party be canceled. Pastor John D. Newland said his church would not break the law.