Big Super Bowl Plans? Be Careful How You Watch the Game

Lora Bentley

Ars Technica's Nate Anderson reminded readers last week to beware watching Sunday's festivities on a screen larger than 55 inches in diameter -- if you're gathering with friends/coworkers in a public place to do so. Remember when the Indianapolis, Ind., church got in trouble for charging partygoers to cover the food at its gathering in 2007? And for calling the party a "Super Bowl Bash"?


The incident brought federal copyright law and the National Football League's rules on such public gatherings into the spotlight nationwide. As Anderson points out, Title 17 United States Code ch.1 sec. 110:

lays out 12 exemptions to copyright restrictions...TV broadcasts and movie showings can only be displayed so long as "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."


Turning on a TV in one's house does not constitute "public performance" as contemplated by the law, but depending on how big the big screen is at the community center or the banquet room you want to use, you might need to rethink things.


However, the NFL has reconsidered its decision regarding non-profits. As long as the name "Super Bowl" or "Super Sunday" is not used in advertising the event and attendance is free, the league will not prevent non-profits from hosting parties with big screens.

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