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Thou Shalt Not View The Super Bowl on a 56" Screen 680

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-like-the-fourteenth-commandment-right dept.
theodp writes "For 200 members of the Immanuel Bible Church and their friends, the annual Super Bowl party is over thanks to the NFL, which explained that airing NFL games at churches on large-screen TV sets violates the NFL copyright. Federal copyright law includes an exemption for sports bars, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, but churches are out of luck. Churchgoers who aren't averse to a little drinking-and-driving still have the opportunity to see the game together in public on a screen bigger than 55 inches."
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Thou Shalt Not View The Super Bowl on a 56" Screen

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  • by plover (150551) * on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:41PM (#22277220) Homepage Journal
    Good.

    I hope the NFL enforces this across America. Since most people are apparently too stupid to notice how the greedy bastards are taking away their freedoms, maybe this will wake more than a few of them up.

    • by Goldberg's Pants (139800) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:09PM (#22277556) Journal
      HAHAHA! Where is their God NOW?!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by SL Baur (19540)

      Since most people are apparently too stupid to notice how the greedy bastards are taking away their freedoms

      My taste for American football has been seriously dampened by the TV broadcasting rules. For awhile I was able to listen to Miami Dolphins football on the radio via internet (when the TV market for southern California was ruined by the Oakland Raiders and the Rams), but then I moved overseas and although I've missed it, I haven't missed it enough to jump through whatever hoops they want you jump through to see the teams you really want to see.

      Geographic based broadcasting sucks, big time. Borders and geo

  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7 AT kc DOT rr DOT com> on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:48PM (#22277290) Homepage
    Is this now a yearly tradition for churches to whine about their Superbowl parties...

    Here is last years article same story, different church:

    http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/category/miami-football/2007/02/01/nfl-orders-church-to-cancel-super-bowl-party/ [aol.com]

  • by msauve (701917) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:49PM (#22277302)
    They are in no way creative works. What "original authorship" exists? "Copyright shelters only fixed, original and creative expression," which a football game isn't. [stanford.edu]

    Furthermore, to be copyrighted, a work must be fixed into a "tangible medium." That is not the case for a live broadcast (although it might be for an after-the-fact replay).
    • by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:58PM (#22277428) Journal

      What "original authorship" exists?
      The editing, the commentary? It's not like there is a single camera fixed on the field. Also the teams are really entertainers and the sport can be considered an improvised performance.

      Furthermore, to be copyrighted, a work must be fixed into a "tangible medium." That is not the case for a live broadcast (although it might be for an after-the-fact replay).
      If IP addresses held in RAM can be considered "fixed", then a live broadcast can certainly also be considered fixed.
    • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:03PM (#22277492)
      Easy: they copyright the broadcast of the football game, not the game itself. Then they prohibit anybody else from broadcasting the game (an agreement on admission to the stadium).
      • by msauve (701917) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:31PM (#22277736)
        how can they claim a church, receiving/viewing the broadcast, is "copying," and therefore in violation of copyright?

        Since the only practical use of a broadcast is to view it, isn't such viewing (at least non-commercially) "fair use?" Why is it a copyright violation for a group of parishiners to watch together, but not for a family to do the same? Is a license required to view content carried over the public airwaves? (this isn't Great Britain!)

        BTW, you totally missed/ignored the original point - a sports broadcast is functional, not creative.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)
          Exactly. If they can legally restrict this then any copyright holder can place arbitrary restrictions on who is allowed to watch their stuff on broadcast TV. Maybe a film studio doesn't want people to watch broadcast films on any screen large enough that a home cinema might compete with a corporate cinema? Perhaps Fox would want to only license The Simpsons to people who pay attention to the adverts, and prosecute anyone who pops out of the room while they are on?

          Copyright allows you to control copying,

        • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @08:04PM (#22277980)

          how can they claim a church, receiving/viewing the broadcast, is "copying," and therefore in violation of copyright?
          I don't know. It probably falls under a public performance clause. I'm not a lawyer, but my post didn't address that issue so I don't know exactly why you're asking me. My guess is that the church receives some monetary benefit from showing the superbowl (i.e., tithes) and therefore the nfl is entitled to a portion of that benefit.

          Since the only practical use of a broadcast is to view it, isn't such viewing (at least non-commercially) "fair use?" Why is it a copyright violation for a group of parishiners to watch together, but not for a family to do the same? Is a license required to view content carried over the public airwaves? (this isn't Great Britain!)
          The non-commercially part is where the question lies. See above. The airwaves being public has nothing to do with it.

          BTW, you totally missed/ignored the original point - a sports broadcast is functional, not creative.
          No, I didn't. You argue that a game is not creative (and I disagree), so I point out that the broadcast of that game is creative, regardless of the status of the game itself. The commentary, the camera angles, the graphics, the production are all creative inputs. Just because it's functional doesn't mean it's not creative. Are you actually arguing that there is NO creative content in a sports broadcast?
    • Debatable. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd (1658) <imipak@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Saturday February 02, 2008 @08:00PM (#22277948) Homepage Journal
      Technically, a truly live, unrecorded broadcast could be considered transitory and therefore not copyrightable. However, the five second delay means that it is indeed being recorded and therefore is an after-the-fact replay. I'm not sure copyright is the correct instrument to use, though. Copyright is intended for a work, an assembly that is well-defined prior to the copying of whatever is copyright, whereas this is essentially an improvised collection of improvisations, where the assemblage is taking place essentially simultaneously to the copying. Copyright was also never intended for a broadcast medium, where the copy technically exists whether the TV is displaying it or not. (It exists as a radio signal or a cable signal and it exists in the receiver up to the point of discrimination, even if the TV is switched off.)

      IP law is, frankly, a mess. Either unify all the concepts into one single notion, OR sub-divide the existing categories into wholly uniform concepts. Force-fitting one idea into a mechanism never designed or intended to be used in such an abstract manner creates a great deal of confusion over what actually is permissible and makes rational discourse on what should be permissible difficult to impossible. I would argue for unification, partly because you are dealing with underlying principles but also because if the unification is valid and correct, it will remain valid and correct for any future technologies within the bounds for which it is defined. Splitting the categories up into much finer-grain notions would make each rule much easier to understand, much easier to follow and much easier to enforce rationally and fairly, but makes IP as a whole harder to conceptualize and doesn't scale well as new methods of delivering information emerge.

      This church fiasco might - possibly - turn out quite useful if the level of resentment generated is sufficient to persuade the politicians that genuine reform (ie: not in the pockets of corporations) is in the interest of voters and therefore their own jobs. Narking a few churches off, though, probably isn't going to generate enough sustained ill-will to do anything beyond getting a few more people seriously drunk and lower that week's collection takings by a few dollars. Anyone who feels wronged on Sunday will have forgotten by Tuesday at the latest. No, the NFL would need to do something far more serious to do any good for the country.

  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by rakuen (1230808) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:49PM (#22277304) Homepage
    If I have a 60" TV, and no one is around to watch it, does it violate copyright?
  • Oh yay (Score:5, Funny)

    by ObjetDart (700355) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:57PM (#22277400)
    Religion and football...two things that I couldn't possibly care less about. I hope they obliterate each other in a spectacular orgy of litigation.
  • by Jugalator (259273) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:58PM (#22277424) Journal
    After all, it's really hard to make a profit on the Super Bowl.

    After all, the advertisements were set at an as low rate as $90,000 per second [nytimes.com].

    Seriously, let's think of the NFL for once. :-(
  • by Associate (317603) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:58PM (#22277432) Homepage
    All the churches need are liquor licenses. They can sell communion wine and hot wings. Insta-church-sports bar. Eat that NFL. No one fucks with the Jesus.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @06:58PM (#22277438)
    I'm glad I've never had an interest in organized sports. Such naked greed needs to be recognized by the medical profession as the mental illness that it is, and treated as such.
  • Heard it before (Score:3, Insightful)

    by peektwice (726616) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:07PM (#22277530)
    A person I know works for a church, and that church had investigated this before, and received the same answer. This is not news. It also does not surprise me that there is an exemption for sports bars. Don't get me wrong, me and the booze, we get along great. But if there's a ban on public performance there's a ban on it. Besides, using the NFL's logic, the ban should be the other way around. The sports bar make money showing the football game. Churches are tax exempt, and therefore do not officially make money.
  • Just to be clear (Score:3, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:08PM (#22277538)
    I'm not supposed to watch the Super Bowl if I have a 56" TV? Got it. Anything else they don't want me to watch? Not sure how my not watching helps their ratings but I'm happy to help in this case.
  • by jadin (65295) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:13PM (#22277586) Homepage
    This is to keep church members from seeing 56 inch nipples.
  • Don't you mean... (Score:3, Informative)

    by phillymjs (234426) <slashdot@nospAM.stango.org> on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:21PM (#22277646) Homepage Journal
    ..."Thou shalt not watch 'the big game'"?

    Remember, you can't use the name unless you cough up money to the NFL! It's trademarked!
  • by coats (1068) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:40PM (#22277818) Homepage
    The NFL's absolutist position on copyright (*no* use without permission) is contrary to both the copyright law itselfand in fact to the Constitution. In particular, "fair use" is a Constituional concept: in its original decision that established the doctrine of Fair Use, the Supreme Court said that Congress may not pass a copyright act so restrictive that it destroys freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Inasmuch as that is within the purview of the NFL's business, their statements about this are under law assumed to be deliberate and in full knowledge of that relevant law. Therefore, one must assume that the NFL's fraudulent claims of absolute control under the copyright act are a deliberate and knowing attempt to defraud the public. For that fraud, the NFL should be prosecuted.
  • by crossmr (957846) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:41PM (#22277820) Journal
    Is it still a 56" TV if there is a 1/2 inch strip of tape or something around the edge of the screen?
    God invented duct tape for a reason.

  • A bit silly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sjames (1099) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @07:51PM (#22277884) Homepage

    So, If they're a bar open to anyone who might stagger in, it doesn't count as public, but if they're a church and some of their members watch it's a pub;lic performance?

    That could get complicated FAST. If they roll the TV into the minister's house and he invites all his friends to a superbowl party is that OK? How about if they watch it in the church, but instead of the big TV, they each watch on a personal portable TV is that OK? If they all hop on one foot with a potato(e) strapped onto their heads while they watch, will that be OK?

    If indeed greed is a mortal sin, I guess the NFL's leadership better get used to the smell of brimstone.

  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @08:14PM (#22278064)
    Both of Britain's main sports (Football and Cricket) are played quite widely internationally, yet American football does not seem to have taken the world by storm. I suppose one consolation of this is that the US always wins, but wouldn't it make more sense to concentrate all those resources on games that are more popular internationally?

    Come to think of it, the other main US sport, Baseball, is not hugely popular around the world either. According to Wikipedia it is less popular than volleyball and table tennis. Maybe the US is onto something here. Perhaps we can copy this idea in Britain. We need to ditch the sports we keep losing at, like soccer, and invent a new one that nobody is interested in. Then we will finally be world champions :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by amRadioHed (463061)

      We need to ditch the sports we keep losing at, like soccer, and invent a new one that nobody is interested in.
      I though that's what cricket was for.
  • by Redbaran (918344) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @09:25PM (#22278642)
    The best thing this church could do is call the NFL's bluff and play the game anyway!

    Let's consider the worst scenario, the NFL does sue. So what?!?! Odds are that the NFL will lose and then there is a good chance the church could counter-sue and reclaim any costs incurred.

    But, let's be realistic, it would be a PR suicide attempt for the NFL to sue a church. The only thing the church could do better then simply showing the game would be to bus in a load of poor, handicapped, cancer-inflicted children from broken homes. I'd like to see the NFL sue that!!
  • PSA (Score:3, Informative)

    by NikLinna (1232172) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @09:29PM (#22278666)
    The word you want in that context is "averse", not "adverse". This has not been a flame, just a helpful comment. I make no promise for what follows this post. :-)
  • ...that may apply.

    Some of you guys may help me remember the details, but this was years ago and it had to do with receiving HBO and "ON-TV" (remember them?) via home made antenna or big sat dish. HBO and ON were both originally available in many areas using a special antenna. This was pre-cable tv, but not by much. The signal was scrambled by not by much. I recall a little 9 volt dc block adapter powered unit that went in-line on the coax from the antenna that could decode it. By todays standards, it wasn't encryption at all, more obscurity than security. I think the picture was shifted half way over, and the end that went off screen was prepended to the other side or something.

    Anyway, you could get it that way or your could catch the feed as it went across the big sats as that was completely open. Ah, the days before DRM.

    As I recall, the supreme court ruled then that if you could receive it out of the air and not have to descramble it, then you were within your rights to watch it. If I'm remembering it accurately, and if it hasn't been reversed, then the NFL's only actionable complaint would by with the networks for not protecting the copyrighted material. This is even more true if you're watching it by using an antenna and HD tuner rather than cable tv.

    Ok, flame the crap out of me for being wrong or outdated now. I'm putting my gnomex hood on and donning SCBA...
  • by nguy (1207026) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @10:05PM (#22278904)
    Church-going folks overwhelmingly voted for the corrupt Republicans that allowed copyright to take on these excessive forms in the first place. I say: throw the book at them. Sue them for criminal copyright infringement. Maybe once they get a taste of their own medicine, they'll think twice before voting another Bush into office.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029)
      <flame type="offtopic">
      Let me first say this as clearly as possible. I do not support Bush in any way shape or form.

      Corrupt Republicans? You must be about 17, maybe 18? The proper statement would be corrupt politicians. There is no political party that isnt corrupt, just ones in power and ones that aren't. The ones in power get called corrupt by the ones who aren't ... when the balance of power shifts, so does the blame.

      That said,

      WHAT THE FUCK IS IT GOING TO TAKE FOR YOU PEOPLE TO REALIZE THE PRE
  • by blitz487 (606553) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @10:27PM (#22279046)
    Obviously, the NFL wants fewer people watching their game and the advertisements. I will help them out by not watching the game or the ads.
  • by michaelmalak (91262) <michael@michaelmalak.com> on Saturday February 02, 2008 @11:15PM (#22279380) Homepage
    The 55-inch rule the NFL is referring to is U.S. Code Title 17 Section 110 [cornell.edu]:

    ...the following are not infringements of copyright:

    [...]

    (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;

    In other words, this law carves out explicit permission for restaurants to have a television, which otherwise would be a copyright violation. It does not rescind fair use. Recall fair use as described by U.S. Code Title 17 Section 107 [cornell.edu] (emphasis added):

    In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include--

    1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    4. the effect of the use u
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Saturday February 02, 2008 @11:46PM (#22279580)

    Federal copyright law includes an exemption for sports bars, according to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy, but churches are out of luck.
    So what sets churches apart from sports bars, alcohol? So long as the churches have some water, I think I know a guy who can solve their problem.

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