NFL cracks down on theater broadcasts


This seems a little silly to me. The theaters do NOT charge for the privilege of watching Packer games on a big screen, and going to the games at either of the theaters is, really, a lot of fun. These are the kind of theaters that you sit down at tables, and can order real food and beer.

If the theater is in the local broadcast area of a game, and are not charging people to watch the game, exactly what rule has been broken here? How is it any different from a sports bar showing the game, or at a friend with a big TV?

Copyright is copyright. Whether you charge admission or not is irrelevant.

The rule has always been “No rebroadcast is allowed without the express written permission of the NFL.”

Your own set is “private use,” which is allowed. The diference between private and nonprivate can be argued, but advertising and inviting the general public is clearly non-private

While this may be bad PR, the NFL is certainly within their legal rights.

But as the OP said, how is this any different that all of the bars and most restaurants in the area showing the game?

re·broad·cast      /riˈbrɔdˌkæst, -ˌkɑst/ verb, -cast or -cast·ed, -cast·ing, noun
–verb (used with object)
1.	to broadcast again from the same station.
2.	to relay (a radio or television program, speech, etc., received from another station).

They are not rebroadcasting, they are simply showing the free, OTA broadcast they receive along with everyone else.

Before last year’s Superb Owl (I’m not licensed to use the Official Name) several churches in the Indianapolis area had to call off their big-screen showings of the Superb Owl. Any screen over 50 inches was the line. A 55-inch screen would get you a lawsuit from the NFL, even if the showing is free. You’ll notice that food stores and bars use phrases like, “the big game” or “Big Party This Sunday.” The NFL protects its copyrights vigorously.

I guess what I’m looking for is the legislation supporting that these theaters are violating copyright law by showing what amounts to a big screen of NBC’s OTA broadcast for free.

How can the NFL prevent people from saying the Super Bowl just because they own the copyright? Am I technically breaking the law when i tell people i have a Ford?

They are not telling people they can’t say it, they are telling other businesses they can’t use it in their advertising without the appropriate licensing fee. If you wanted to advertise “Rides in my Ford F150, 25 cents” you might have the same problem.

Actually, according to Copyright Law, 55 inches is OK. It’s when you go above 55" that you run afoul of TITLE 17.

I think this law should be rewritten, personally, especially for copyrighted material that is (a) broadcast free-to-air, and (b) supported by advertising. After all, if 200 people gather in a church to watch the game on a 12’ projection screen, there are exactly the same number of people watching the game and the ads as if those 200 people were each in their own loungerooms watching the game on their televisions.

Perhaps they could even stipulate that broadcasts in places like churches be required to leave the sound turned on during the advertisements (almost everyone watches the Superbowl ads anyway), so there would be no potential for skipping the commercials.

Actually, quite a few intellectual property lawyers point out that the NFL’s interpretation of trademark law is much stricter than the law actually allows for, and that many of the uses of “Super Bowl” that the NFL gets all steamed about would probably survive a court challenge.

The problem with copyright law, as with many other similar areas, is that deep pockets and a willingness to sue are often enough to get people to bend to your wishes, no matter the merits of your argument.

You are free to tell people you drive a Ford, but if you were a supermarket, and you advertised a page of picnic supplies “for your Ford picnic,” with the blue oval logo, you’d hear from Ford Motor Company lawyers.

If you look around, you can buy a repro sign saying Ford Service Department, and tack it up in your home garage. If you run an auto repair shop, you can’t hang that sign in your shop without FoMoCo’s permission.

The NFL sells entertainment, not cars. Entertainment is a fleeting thing, so their approach to copyright defense is different. Right now, I’m teetering on the edge of my understanding of copyright law, if not falling off the edge. I can say no more.

So, if I have a TV larger that 55", then I can’t invite my buddies over to watch the SuperBowl?!?

Just tell tell your buddies you’re going to be watching the Superb Owl. :wink:

Here is a previous thread with the relevant law.

Actually, if i’m reading the law correctly, that would depend on how you and the courts define this section:

Given the number of large TVs sold for home use these days, i think you could make a pretty good argument that your 58" plasma or your 70" rear projection TV would qualify as a “single receiving apparatus of a kind commonly used in private homes.”

This code was written when basically NO-ONE had a 55" TV in their house.

Good thing I didn’t spring for the 58" plasma TV and 7.1 channel surround system. What would be the penalty for being over the limit by three inches and two speakers?

Looks like it’s time for the home electronics industry to lean on lawmakers to update these codes, A simple “There are no limitations on display size or the number of loudspeakers used in private residences.” should be sufficient.