No Superbowl Parties at Church

The NFL is cracking down on churches that show the Superbowl on their big screens. See this article from the “Washington Post” entitled NFL Pulls Plug On Big-Screen Church Parties For Super Bowl.

Many churches that have sponsored these parties have received letters from the league forbidding the practice. Church spokesmen are complaining, saying that hosting congregational Superbowl screenings is good for fellowship and for reaching the “unchurched.” They are further irked that the law against public showings of sporting events exempts bars. Plans are now in the works to sue the NFL and to push for legislation exempting churches as well.

Public showings of copyrighted material ARE prohibited by law. This is why you keep hearing the message: “This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience. Any other use of this telecast or any pictures, descriptions, or accounts of the game without the NFL’s consent is prohibited.” There is a big legal difference between viewing something in one’s home and viewing it in a mass public setting. The entitlement mentality is unseemly.

So I ask another question: SHOULD churches have the same exemption that bars do? And another question: SHOULD churches hold these kinds of secular events?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • EconJeff

    In most bars the TVs are incidental except for the big games, so it is much less of a “special event” although it is obviously a money-getter.

    With churches, it is definitely a special event, as they usually don’t have the TV going in the background during the service (I hope!). So I’d say No, churches shouldn’t be exempted.

    And churches shouldn’t be doing this anyway (in my view). Jesus’ clearing the temple is my reasoning. The message I’ve taken from that is that we shouldn’t sully God’s house with our worldly garbage. I may be wrong, though.

  • EconJeff

    In most bars the TVs are incidental except for the big games, so it is much less of a “special event” although it is obviously a money-getter.

    With churches, it is definitely a special event, as they usually don’t have the TV going in the background during the service (I hope!). So I’d say No, churches shouldn’t be exempted.

    And churches shouldn’t be doing this anyway (in my view). Jesus’ clearing the temple is my reasoning. The message I’ve taken from that is that we shouldn’t sully God’s house with our worldly garbage. I may be wrong, though.

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    The law: Public showings of copyrighted material ARE prohibited by law. Churches should not be exempt from this.

    If the law weren’t on the books, I still don’t think churches should be holding special events parties – movies in the sanctuary. Our kids need to know that the sanctuary is for worshiping and focusing God, not for making humans the center of worship (sports, movies, singers, etc) or for entertaining ourselves. Oh wait, we already forgot that…

  • http://gpiper.org/katiesbeer Theresa K.

    The law: Public showings of copyrighted material ARE prohibited by law. Churches should not be exempt from this.

    If the law weren’t on the books, I still don’t think churches should be holding special events parties – movies in the sanctuary. Our kids need to know that the sanctuary is for worshiping and focusing God, not for making humans the center of worship (sports, movies, singers, etc) or for entertaining ourselves. Oh wait, we already forgot that…

  • http://www.parentalrights.org Rich Shipe

    On the legal question:

    I’m no copyright attorney but I would think these showings should be OK as long as the church isn’t charging admission. You’d think the league would want more viewers watching the ads! Maybe those types of events aren’t figured in to the Nielson calculations?

    Bars are clearly using the telecast to make money even if they don’t charge admission so the exception for bars doesn’t make sense without knowing more.

    To the spiritual question:

    I don’t have a problem with a church doing this. Good grief, it is a modern cultural event and to call it “worldly garbage” seems a little extreme. If it is wrong to show it in the church building than why is it OK in your home? Christians watch the Super Bowl and that is OK. If we say it is wrong to show it in a church building but then watch it at home are we sending a message that we act one way in church and another everywhere else? Also, wasn’t God’s house destroyed in 70 A.D. and was replaced by our bodies? (I Cor. 6:19)

    But, like EconJeff said, I also could be wrong.

    Additionally I would add that my biggest hesitation would be in regards to the commercials which are sometimes over the line from family friendly to PG-13. (e.g. Go Daddy ads) The racy ads fit well into the bar atmosphere but not church. Maybe have the TiVo ready to go? But then you’d be cutting out the ads so maybe that’s why they won’t allow it in churches?

    And I can’t help but leave my comments on the game. As a Redskins fan it will be hard for me to do this but I’ll be cheering for the Giants. I can’t stand the Patriots. I used to be a fan of Boston sports but now their fans are just obnoxious. Maybe that’s because they are so used to losing in the past that they haven’t learned to be gracious in victory? Also, it really offended me that the Pats cheated and then ran up the score on people all season (like my Redskins). Running up the score on innocent parties for the purpose of getting back at the league for something you ADMITTED you did is just offensive. It shows their character. I can forgive cheating but it is clear the Patriots as an organization are unwilling to even repent. If they win I think this team should forever go down in history with a big Barry Bonds style asterisk. If the same thing had happened in college basketball that team would be prevented from the championship tournament. Lost draft pick and $750,000 is nothing for them. … Not that I’ve got strong feelings or anything… :)

  • http://www.parentalrights.org Rich Shipe

    On the legal question:

    I’m no copyright attorney but I would think these showings should be OK as long as the church isn’t charging admission. You’d think the league would want more viewers watching the ads! Maybe those types of events aren’t figured in to the Nielson calculations?

    Bars are clearly using the telecast to make money even if they don’t charge admission so the exception for bars doesn’t make sense without knowing more.

    To the spiritual question:

    I don’t have a problem with a church doing this. Good grief, it is a modern cultural event and to call it “worldly garbage” seems a little extreme. If it is wrong to show it in the church building than why is it OK in your home? Christians watch the Super Bowl and that is OK. If we say it is wrong to show it in a church building but then watch it at home are we sending a message that we act one way in church and another everywhere else? Also, wasn’t God’s house destroyed in 70 A.D. and was replaced by our bodies? (I Cor. 6:19)

    But, like EconJeff said, I also could be wrong.

    Additionally I would add that my biggest hesitation would be in regards to the commercials which are sometimes over the line from family friendly to PG-13. (e.g. Go Daddy ads) The racy ads fit well into the bar atmosphere but not church. Maybe have the TiVo ready to go? But then you’d be cutting out the ads so maybe that’s why they won’t allow it in churches?

    And I can’t help but leave my comments on the game. As a Redskins fan it will be hard for me to do this but I’ll be cheering for the Giants. I can’t stand the Patriots. I used to be a fan of Boston sports but now their fans are just obnoxious. Maybe that’s because they are so used to losing in the past that they haven’t learned to be gracious in victory? Also, it really offended me that the Pats cheated and then ran up the score on people all season (like my Redskins). Running up the score on innocent parties for the purpose of getting back at the league for something you ADMITTED you did is just offensive. It shows their character. I can forgive cheating but it is clear the Patriots as an organization are unwilling to even repent. If they win I think this team should forever go down in history with a big Barry Bonds style asterisk. If the same thing had happened in college basketball that team would be prevented from the championship tournament. Lost draft pick and $750,000 is nothing for them. … Not that I’ve got strong feelings or anything… :)

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  • http://www.parentalrights.org Rich Shipe

    …and I should add as a shameless appeal to Dr. Veith … I’m sorry the great Favre didn’t get back in the Super Bowl. That guy represents all that is awesome about the NFL.

  • http://www.parentalrights.org Rich Shipe

    …and I should add as a shameless appeal to Dr. Veith … I’m sorry the great Favre didn’t get back in the Super Bowl. That guy represents all that is awesome about the NFL.

  • Doug

    Christians should definitely be obeying the law and not showing it. That said, the copyrights on videos and DVD’s also apply. A church is not allowed to buy a private copy of, say, “VeggieTales” or “Facing the Giants” and then show it on their big projection screens to an audience. They must get the proper licensing.

    On the spiritual side of things, if people want fellowship then go over to each others houses. My dad and all the guys in his Sunday School class always pick one house to watch all of the big Ohio State football games. The fellowship is wonderful and far more intimate than at a church. There is just something about sitting on a couch in someone’s home that can open a person up to share hardships and struggles. Why are Christians so tied to their church buildings?

  • Doug

    Christians should definitely be obeying the law and not showing it. That said, the copyrights on videos and DVD’s also apply. A church is not allowed to buy a private copy of, say, “VeggieTales” or “Facing the Giants” and then show it on their big projection screens to an audience. They must get the proper licensing.

    On the spiritual side of things, if people want fellowship then go over to each others houses. My dad and all the guys in his Sunday School class always pick one house to watch all of the big Ohio State football games. The fellowship is wonderful and far more intimate than at a church. There is just something about sitting on a couch in someone’s home that can open a person up to share hardships and struggles. Why are Christians so tied to their church buildings?

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    But “Super Sunday” is on our liturgical calendar, just like Mothers’ Day.

  • http://geochristian.wordpress.com Kevin N

    But “Super Sunday” is on our liturgical calendar, just like Mothers’ Day.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    I thought that this sort of thing only applied if you were charging admission. We use “copyrighted” images in art history lectures all the time. To obtain a copyright for every image for every lecture would cause art history lectures to cease. The lectures do not charge admission, are not selling anything, and are only used for education.

    Anyhow, I find the idea of luring people to the church with things like Super Bowl parties disgusting. If I am looking for a good time, I am not going to go to church, I am going to go to the bar. Why do we feel like we have to lure people then attack them with some approximation of the Gospel? I believe it is because churches have become totally impotent. If people in the church were experiencing the life-altering power of the Almighty, there would be no need for lures or stupid entertainment gimmicks. People would flock to it.

    Gah, I hated this when I was a teen. We were always being enticed by games and fun “teen centered” activity. All I wanted was for my life to be infiltrated with the Spirit.

  • http://www.hempelstudios.com Sarah in Maryland

    I thought that this sort of thing only applied if you were charging admission. We use “copyrighted” images in art history lectures all the time. To obtain a copyright for every image for every lecture would cause art history lectures to cease. The lectures do not charge admission, are not selling anything, and are only used for education.

    Anyhow, I find the idea of luring people to the church with things like Super Bowl parties disgusting. If I am looking for a good time, I am not going to go to church, I am going to go to the bar. Why do we feel like we have to lure people then attack them with some approximation of the Gospel? I believe it is because churches have become totally impotent. If people in the church were experiencing the life-altering power of the Almighty, there would be no need for lures or stupid entertainment gimmicks. People would flock to it.

    Gah, I hated this when I was a teen. We were always being enticed by games and fun “teen centered” activity. All I wanted was for my life to be infiltrated with the Spirit.

  • Ken

    Sarah: You mean to say interaction with and worship of God ISN’T the motive for attendance at church?

    Shocked, shocked I am. Aghast. Dismayed.

    The power of the preached word. The sovereign movement of the Holy Spirit. All that pales in comparison to a good entertainment event. If bread and circuses were good enough for the early church they should be good enough for us.

  • Ken

    Sarah: You mean to say interaction with and worship of God ISN’T the motive for attendance at church?

    Shocked, shocked I am. Aghast. Dismayed.

    The power of the preached word. The sovereign movement of the Holy Spirit. All that pales in comparison to a good entertainment event. If bread and circuses were good enough for the early church they should be good enough for us.

  • http://maplemountain.blogspot.com/ samuel

    No football?

    Now what are we supposed to do at church?

    Hey, on a TV-related note, are you going to comment on the exasperating LOST premier last night?

  • http://maplemountain.blogspot.com/ samuel

    No football?

    Now what are we supposed to do at church?

    Hey, on a TV-related note, are you going to comment on the exasperating LOST premier last night?

  • EconJeff

    I should clarify–I like football and lots of other modern cultural events. By worldly garbage I mean things that we tend to treat as idols. For many people their devotion to football (and entertainment in general) neither helps our neighbor nor glorifies God, and I just don’t see the need to reach out to people through their idols. Although I guess Paul sort of did that at(on?) the Areopagus. So maybe I’m still way off.

  • EconJeff

    I should clarify–I like football and lots of other modern cultural events. By worldly garbage I mean things that we tend to treat as idols. For many people their devotion to football (and entertainment in general) neither helps our neighbor nor glorifies God, and I just don’t see the need to reach out to people through their idols. Although I guess Paul sort of did that at(on?) the Areopagus. So maybe I’m still way off.

  • Deb C

    I should start that I dislike football however I have come to the same conclusions about the sports that I do like. That the watching of sports has became a form of idolatry for many Americans .
    I was living in the Denver metro area the last two times the Broncos were in the super bowl and saw the church i attend have a serious discussion if we should turn the whole Sunday service into a bronco event. Luckily it didn’t. It seemed to me part of the church was saying that for this Sunday football was more important to them than God.
    This still bothers me and I am normally dismissed as over reacting.
    If churches wanted to do a out reach it should be to the people who don’t watch as they are the ones with no where to go.

  • Deb C

    I should start that I dislike football however I have come to the same conclusions about the sports that I do like. That the watching of sports has became a form of idolatry for many Americans .
    I was living in the Denver metro area the last two times the Broncos were in the super bowl and saw the church i attend have a serious discussion if we should turn the whole Sunday service into a bronco event. Luckily it didn’t. It seemed to me part of the church was saying that for this Sunday football was more important to them than God.
    This still bothers me and I am normally dismissed as over reacting.
    If churches wanted to do a out reach it should be to the people who don’t watch as they are the ones with no where to go.

  • http://thebookbeast.blogspot.com Darren

    If it were legal, I wouldn’t have any problem with a church showing it in a fellowship hall or some other gathering place. Our church’s parish hall is used for potlucks, Bible studies, and other church get-togethers.

    But I would have a very real problem with showing it in the nave – the church proper. That’s a holy place.

  • http://thebookbeast.blogspot.com Darren

    If it were legal, I wouldn’t have any problem with a church showing it in a fellowship hall or some other gathering place. Our church’s parish hall is used for potlucks, Bible studies, and other church get-togethers.

    But I would have a very real problem with showing it in the nave – the church proper. That’s a holy place.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I love football, but with others have come to the conclusion that watching the game isn’t worth needing to explain a “four hour…..” to my preteen daughters, and putting filth like “GoDaddy” into my home.

    That aside, this provision of and application of copyright law baffles me. The networks do, after all, make their income from ad revenues, and aren’t the churches bringing lots of people to a place where they will see the ads?

    Are the networks afraid that Nielsen families are going to go to church instead of registering ratings at home?

    I understand a lot of copyright law. Threatening to sue churches for helping people use the networks’ product baffles me, though.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    I love football, but with others have come to the conclusion that watching the game isn’t worth needing to explain a “four hour…..” to my preteen daughters, and putting filth like “GoDaddy” into my home.

    That aside, this provision of and application of copyright law baffles me. The networks do, after all, make their income from ad revenues, and aren’t the churches bringing lots of people to a place where they will see the ads?

    Are the networks afraid that Nielsen families are going to go to church instead of registering ratings at home?

    I understand a lot of copyright law. Threatening to sue churches for helping people use the networks’ product baffles me, though.

  • Eric

    The amount of revenue generated from ads is driven by the number of viewers or audience share. I believe the measure is by household. One guy watching a TV in his basement, and 2000 watching it on the worship projector both equal 1.

    Bars, the big sports bars any way, have to buy into those game day packages that all the leagues have now. The NFL and all the others have received their money.

    An idea for a half time devotional, “touchdown Jesus vs. Jesus cleansing the temple.”

  • Eric

    The amount of revenue generated from ads is driven by the number of viewers or audience share. I believe the measure is by household. One guy watching a TV in his basement, and 2000 watching it on the worship projector both equal 1.

    Bars, the big sports bars any way, have to buy into those game day packages that all the leagues have now. The NFL and all the others have received their money.

    An idea for a half time devotional, “touchdown Jesus vs. Jesus cleansing the temple.”

  • S Bauer

    Sarah, @8

    The use of a limited number of images for educational purposes falls under the “fair use” doctrine of US copyright law. You can use a “portion” of a creator’s work or set of works for criticism, reviews, and other “educational” endeavors without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. There are some other minor criteria that also sometimes get involved. There is no hard and fast definition of what constitutes a “portion” of a work or what is an “educational use”. The determination has to be made on a case by case basis. But I believe a “fair use” defense for showing a Super Bowl game in church would meet neither the “limited portion” nor the “educational use” criteria.

    Does anyone know if the the exemption for bars is a legal exemption or one granted by the NFL? If the second I would guess there wold be grounds for a lawsuit.

  • S Bauer

    Sarah, @8

    The use of a limited number of images for educational purposes falls under the “fair use” doctrine of US copyright law. You can use a “portion” of a creator’s work or set of works for criticism, reviews, and other “educational” endeavors without obtaining permission from the copyright holder. There are some other minor criteria that also sometimes get involved. There is no hard and fast definition of what constitutes a “portion” of a work or what is an “educational use”. The determination has to be made on a case by case basis. But I believe a “fair use” defense for showing a Super Bowl game in church would meet neither the “limited portion” nor the “educational use” criteria.

    Does anyone know if the the exemption for bars is a legal exemption or one granted by the NFL? If the second I would guess there wold be grounds for a lawsuit.

  • S Bauer

    As far as whether using the broadcast for drawing people into the church building, I agree with Sarah, et al., that it is a futile gimmick. (Oh, no. I’m starting to multiple-post like frank.)

  • S Bauer

    As far as whether using the broadcast for drawing people into the church building, I agree with Sarah, et al., that it is a futile gimmick. (Oh, no. I’m starting to multiple-post like frank.)

  • Don S

    Here is the relevant statute:

    35 U.S.C. 17 (5)(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

    So the key provision is that you are in a space greater than 2000 square feet. In a smaller room there is no restriction. Small churches, with sanctuaries or fellowship halls smaller than 2000 square feet can show it on a screen as big as they want. Larger churches would have to set up a TV in each of several rooms smaller than 2000 square feet. That is not so great a restriction, really. I am sure the purpose is to protect the Nielsen ratings by discouraging the mass gathering with the big screen.

    We as Christians need to do a better job honoring the law, particularly in this area. I am continually hearing about Christians copying and sharing music, movies, etc. in order to avoid purchasing their own copies, and it is wrong.

    As to the issue itself, I don’t have a problem with a church having such a party in their facility. Fellowship and outreach are both good, important parts of the Christian life and walk. If we really think that something is inappropriate to be shown in our churches, then why is it OK to watch it in our homes?

    As for the game itself, I would like to see the first ever Super Bowl where both teams lose! As an Eagles fan, let’s just say I “don’t care” for the Giants. And I don’t think very many people care of the Patriots (outside of New England) this year. But, reluctantly, I will be rooting for Eli and the boys to take it this year.

  • Don S

    Here is the relevant statute:

    35 U.S.C. 17 (5)(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

    So the key provision is that you are in a space greater than 2000 square feet. In a smaller room there is no restriction. Small churches, with sanctuaries or fellowship halls smaller than 2000 square feet can show it on a screen as big as they want. Larger churches would have to set up a TV in each of several rooms smaller than 2000 square feet. That is not so great a restriction, really. I am sure the purpose is to protect the Nielsen ratings by discouraging the mass gathering with the big screen.

    We as Christians need to do a better job honoring the law, particularly in this area. I am continually hearing about Christians copying and sharing music, movies, etc. in order to avoid purchasing their own copies, and it is wrong.

    As to the issue itself, I don’t have a problem with a church having such a party in their facility. Fellowship and outreach are both good, important parts of the Christian life and walk. If we really think that something is inappropriate to be shown in our churches, then why is it OK to watch it in our homes?

    As for the game itself, I would like to see the first ever Super Bowl where both teams lose! As an Eagles fan, let’s just say I “don’t care” for the Giants. And I don’t think very many people care of the Patriots (outside of New England) this year. But, reluctantly, I will be rooting for Eli and the boys to take it this year.

  • Don S

    Oops, now that I read the statute more carefully, I see that the 2000 square feet refers to the entire establishment. So the small church has to be really small, and larger churches will have to use TV’s of 55 square inches or less, even in separate rooms.

  • Don S

    Oops, now that I read the statute more carefully, I see that the 2000 square feet refers to the entire establishment. So the small church has to be really small, and larger churches will have to use TV’s of 55 square inches or less, even in separate rooms.

  • Joe

    Also the NFL is not targeting churches. It has sent similar letters to movie theaters too. A lot of movie theaters in Wisconsin used to show every Packer game. They would not charge for admission but instead would charge for beer, soda and food.

  • Joe

    Also the NFL is not targeting churches. It has sent similar letters to movie theaters too. A lot of movie theaters in Wisconsin used to show every Packer game. They would not charge for admission but instead would charge for beer, soda and food.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Eric–true, but reality is that your TV does not send a signal unless you’re a Nielsen house. So the likelihood that churches are depriving anyone of revenue this way is remote.

    One would figure that the NFL would say “we’d love to have you do this; can you simply send us a note letting us know how many people attended your event so we can get feedback to our advertisers” or something like that.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Eric–true, but reality is that your TV does not send a signal unless you’re a Nielsen house. So the likelihood that churches are depriving anyone of revenue this way is remote.

    One would figure that the NFL would say “we’d love to have you do this; can you simply send us a note letting us know how many people attended your event so we can get feedback to our advertisers” or something like that.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Bike Bubba (@21) and others, the NFL doesn’t have advertisers. The TV networks do.

    The network and the NFL made a deal for the network to show the NFL’s content exclusively to private users of that network. You are, in essence, going outside of that exclusive distribution system by taking it into a public sphere.

    Now, do the advertisers care that you do this? Doubtful — they paid the networks (a ridiculous amount of) money expecting a certain amount of exposure. The more exposure, the better. But this isn’t about the advertisers, it’s about the deal between the network and the NFL.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Bike Bubba (@21) and others, the NFL doesn’t have advertisers. The TV networks do.

    The network and the NFL made a deal for the network to show the NFL’s content exclusively to private users of that network. You are, in essence, going outside of that exclusive distribution system by taking it into a public sphere.

    Now, do the advertisers care that you do this? Doubtful — they paid the networks (a ridiculous amount of) money expecting a certain amount of exposure. The more exposure, the better. But this isn’t about the advertisers, it’s about the deal between the network and the NFL.

  • Joe

    Why does the NFL have to do anything? Its their material. If you want to use it call them up and negotiate a license.

  • Joe

    Why does the NFL have to do anything? Its their material. If you want to use it call them up and negotiate a license.

  • Don, the Rebel without a Blog

    Yes, churches should have the same exemption as bars on First Amendment grounds! Free exercise of religion! You can believe what I say because I’M A LAWYER!

  • Don, the Rebel without a Blog

    Yes, churches should have the same exemption as bars on First Amendment grounds! Free exercise of religion! You can believe what I say because I’M A LAWYER!

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Todd, the money the NFL gets comes indirectly from the advertisers. Again, I’m at a loss about what harm is being done here. The games are being seen, people will buy merchandise, ads are being seen, and more.

    I’m all for contracts, and I know full well that people are free to form stupid contracts and have them enforced, by law if necessary.

    I just think that this is insanely stupid.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Todd, the money the NFL gets comes indirectly from the advertisers. Again, I’m at a loss about what harm is being done here. The games are being seen, people will buy merchandise, ads are being seen, and more.

    I’m all for contracts, and I know full well that people are free to form stupid contracts and have them enforced, by law if necessary.

    I just think that this is insanely stupid.

  • SJB

    I had to scratch my head on this one and I still don’t get it: The NFL owns the copyright and it is entitled to set the rules on the usage of its own property – right? So why does anyone think they have the right to take them to court and attempt to force them to give them thier property against thier will?

    I think this American sense of entitlement to help themselves to whatever they want is quite wrong. What happened to people remembering to not covet other people’s property and to not steal it, but to help him keep, improve, and protect his possessions and income?

    ….are we Christians or not? Sheesh… :(

  • SJB

    I had to scratch my head on this one and I still don’t get it: The NFL owns the copyright and it is entitled to set the rules on the usage of its own property – right? So why does anyone think they have the right to take them to court and attempt to force them to give them thier property against thier will?

    I think this American sense of entitlement to help themselves to whatever they want is quite wrong. What happened to people remembering to not covet other people’s property and to not steal it, but to help him keep, improve, and protect his possessions and income?

    ….are we Christians or not? Sheesh… :(

  • SJB

    Oops! I was so baffled by the article I forgot to answering my two cents worth on the actual questions:

    SHOULD churches have the same exemption that bars do? It seems to me that the only reason why churches would want the same exemptions as bars is merely to gain some kind of legal ruse to attempt to gain free access to the NFL’s property. (Please see my previous answer)

    SHOULD churches hold these kinds of secular events? Since the NFL has asked that churches not violate their copyright laws….it seems the answer should be no on football.

  • SJB

    Oops! I was so baffled by the article I forgot to answering my two cents worth on the actual questions:

    SHOULD churches have the same exemption that bars do? It seems to me that the only reason why churches would want the same exemptions as bars is merely to gain some kind of legal ruse to attempt to gain free access to the NFL’s property. (Please see my previous answer)

    SHOULD churches hold these kinds of secular events? Since the NFL has asked that churches not violate their copyright laws….it seems the answer should be no on football.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Bike Bubba (@25), I really don’t get your tenacity here: it’s not really your content to do what you want with, any more than you’re at liberty to photocopy a magazine — ads included — 1,000 times and give it to your friends.

    But since I imagine your objection to that analogy will be about money (as your complaints have dealt only with money, not rights) then how about this:

    A church broadcasts the Superbowl to its 1,000 members. However, wanting to avoid racy GoDaddy commercials and any “moneychangers in the temple” appearance, they run a video loop of praise music whenever a commercial break comes on. Now the advertisers are denied the value of the money they paid, so they don’t like it. And if they don’t like it, the network doesn’t like it.

    Of course, it’s easier to enforce a “don’t broadcast it publicly” rule than a “if you broadcast it publicly, you must show all the commercials” rule. Maybe that’s why they’re doing what they’re doing. I have no idea, but I have to echo SJB’s sentiments (@26) on entitlement.

  • http://www.cockahoop.com/ tODD

    Bike Bubba (@25), I really don’t get your tenacity here: it’s not really your content to do what you want with, any more than you’re at liberty to photocopy a magazine — ads included — 1,000 times and give it to your friends.

    But since I imagine your objection to that analogy will be about money (as your complaints have dealt only with money, not rights) then how about this:

    A church broadcasts the Superbowl to its 1,000 members. However, wanting to avoid racy GoDaddy commercials and any “moneychangers in the temple” appearance, they run a video loop of praise music whenever a commercial break comes on. Now the advertisers are denied the value of the money they paid, so they don’t like it. And if they don’t like it, the network doesn’t like it.

    Of course, it’s easier to enforce a “don’t broadcast it publicly” rule than a “if you broadcast it publicly, you must show all the commercials” rule. Maybe that’s why they’re doing what they’re doing. I have no idea, but I have to echo SJB’s sentiments (@26) on entitlement.

  • Bill Scioli

    Sunday is the Lord’s Day (Sabbath) and should be honored as such by each of His children giving Him the “entire day”. Thus, watching a football game should not even be considered. For how does watching a game give honor and glory to God?

    By the way I am a huge sports fan…., playing all my life but I am thankful that God has placed it on my heart to honor Him on His Day instead of falling prey to the distractions of worldly flesh, relevant to sin.

    Lastly, one of the great problems within the church is its desires to conform to the world and its ways instead of holding fast to God’s Law (By honoring His Commandments, including honoring the Sabbath).

  • Bill Scioli

    Sunday is the Lord’s Day (Sabbath) and should be honored as such by each of His children giving Him the “entire day”. Thus, watching a football game should not even be considered. For how does watching a game give honor and glory to God?

    By the way I am a huge sports fan…., playing all my life but I am thankful that God has placed it on my heart to honor Him on His Day instead of falling prey to the distractions of worldly flesh, relevant to sin.

    Lastly, one of the great problems within the church is its desires to conform to the world and its ways instead of holding fast to God’s Law (By honoring His Commandments, including honoring the Sabbath).

  • Bror Erickson

    just a thought but bars make money selling the products that pay for the game with advertising. Maybe that is why they get the exemption.

  • Bror Erickson

    just a thought but bars make money selling the products that pay for the game with advertising. Maybe that is why they get the exemption.

  • Kyralessa

    It seems grossly hypocritical…

    …and yet I’m having trouble caring. :)

  • Kyralessa

    It seems grossly hypocritical…

    …and yet I’m having trouble caring. :)

  • Ryan

    I’m kinda slow. I do want to honor the law and I suppose this means our regular church youth group movie/discussion nights are now out.

    I’m still in the dark why purchasing a copy of a movie (say the Luther movie or the Passion of the Christ) or gathering a group of people (large or small) to watch television on a legally paid for cable subscription is illegal, or even me to watch television or broadcast channels… which are supposed to be rented from our government is illegal.

    I guess I’m a bit dense.

  • Ryan

    I’m kinda slow. I do want to honor the law and I suppose this means our regular church youth group movie/discussion nights are now out.

    I’m still in the dark why purchasing a copy of a movie (say the Luther movie or the Passion of the Christ) or gathering a group of people (large or small) to watch television on a legally paid for cable subscription is illegal, or even me to watch television or broadcast channels… which are supposed to be rented from our government is illegal.

    I guess I’m a bit dense.

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  • Don S

    Ryan at #32, the issue of purchasing a movie and showing it in a church gathering, without charging admission fees or charging more than the cost of snacks or coffee served to those watching the film (in other words, not making money on concessions), does not infringe copyright laws. This thread is about the very special case of a television broadcast, which is covered by a special section of the copyright statute.

  • Don S

    Ryan at #32, the issue of purchasing a movie and showing it in a church gathering, without charging admission fees or charging more than the cost of snacks or coffee served to those watching the film (in other words, not making money on concessions), does not infringe copyright laws. This thread is about the very special case of a television broadcast, which is covered by a special section of the copyright statute.

  • Booklover

    I say churches should follow the law. When people come to church, they should see some semblance of holiness and some semblance of love. I don’t see where that would be apparent in a Super Bowl showing. Many half-time shows and commercials are a shade shady to be endorsed by churches in my opinion. Whatever happened to Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy?

  • Booklover

    I say churches should follow the law. When people come to church, they should see some semblance of holiness and some semblance of love. I don’t see where that would be apparent in a Super Bowl showing. Many half-time shows and commercials are a shade shady to be endorsed by churches in my opinion. Whatever happened to Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy?

  • Joe

    Don, the rebel without a blog,

    I am assuming your post was in jest. Gathering to watch a football game at a church gives you license to ignore a generally applicable copyright statute based on the free excersis clause? Nope. Not even close.

  • Joe

    Don, the rebel without a blog,

    I am assuming your post was in jest. Gathering to watch a football game at a church gives you license to ignore a generally applicable copyright statute based on the free excersis clause? Nope. Not even close.

  • Don S

    You talking to me, Joe? I don’t understand your point, but I have stated in this thread that you cannot show the game at church, except on TV screens 55 inches or less, and no more than 4 of them, unless your entire church building is 2000 sq. ft. or less. I quoted the relevant statute.

    My most recent post was a response to Ryan, because he was extending the thread to apply to showing films at church gatherings. I was merely pointing out that the law at issue only relates to TV broadcasts, not showing movies. My understanding of the Copyright statute on showing movies is that it is OK in a non-profit church setting as long as you don’t charge admission and don’t make money from concessions.

    Definitely not a rebel.

  • Don S

    You talking to me, Joe? I don’t understand your point, but I have stated in this thread that you cannot show the game at church, except on TV screens 55 inches or less, and no more than 4 of them, unless your entire church building is 2000 sq. ft. or less. I quoted the relevant statute.

    My most recent post was a response to Ryan, because he was extending the thread to apply to showing films at church gatherings. I was merely pointing out that the law at issue only relates to TV broadcasts, not showing movies. My understanding of the Copyright statute on showing movies is that it is OK in a non-profit church setting as long as you don’t charge admission and don’t make money from concessions.

    Definitely not a rebel.

  • Don S

    Oops! Now I see the other Don’s post. For the record, that is not me.

  • Don S

    Oops! Now I see the other Don’s post. For the record, that is not me.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Todd, it’s really simple; the heart of copyright law is the right of the owners to profit from their work, and I don’t see how they’re losing a penny from this.

    I get how people object to music-sharing, video-sharing, and such; it translates to one sale instead of ten or 100. There’s a real economic harm that anyone can see.

    But having the exact same people meet at a church instead of at home to watch a game? My goodness, get some GOOD PR by saying “we’re glad to have you gather together to enjoy our product–would you be so kind as to tell us how many people attended for our ratings?”

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Todd, it’s really simple; the heart of copyright law is the right of the owners to profit from their work, and I don’t see how they’re losing a penny from this.

    I get how people object to music-sharing, video-sharing, and such; it translates to one sale instead of ten or 100. There’s a real economic harm that anyone can see.

    But having the exact same people meet at a church instead of at home to watch a game? My goodness, get some GOOD PR by saying “we’re glad to have you gather together to enjoy our product–would you be so kind as to tell us how many people attended for our ratings?”

  • Joe

    Bike Bubba – the heart of copyright law is to allow the owners to decide when and how something is viewed by the public. It is not simply profit. It is control.

    Beside – the purpose of a statute does not determine is effectiveness; the language used does. Even if profit were the only purpose behind the statute, that purpose can not overcome the plain text of the law.

  • Joe

    Bike Bubba – the heart of copyright law is to allow the owners to decide when and how something is viewed by the public. It is not simply profit. It is control.

    Beside – the purpose of a statute does not determine is effectiveness; the language used does. Even if profit were the only purpose behind the statute, that purpose can not overcome the plain text of the law.

  • Matt L

    Part of the matter as the law reads is that this is a public telecast/rebroadcast. Thus there is a distinction between a church advertising this as an event (general public) and say a youth group of a dozen high school kids (private) projecting it on the screen in the gym. The key is “general public.”

  • Matt L

    Part of the matter as the law reads is that this is a public telecast/rebroadcast. Thus there is a distinction between a church advertising this as an event (general public) and say a youth group of a dozen high school kids (private) projecting it on the screen in the gym. The key is “general public.”


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