Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Copyright Nonsense

There is a story making the rounds that the No Fun League has sent C&D letters to various churches planning to host Super Bowl parties. Apparently a church in Indiana was planning to host a "Super Bowl Bash" as a fundraiser. The NFL faxed a letter advising that the words "Super Bowl" are trademarked and that the league prohibits charging admission to watch the game. So far, the League was perfectly within its rights- so, the Pastor changed the name of the party and dropped the fee for admission.

Not good enough. The NFL claimed that the law prohibited displaying the game on a television larger than 55 inches. Legally, the NFL is correct- the Copyright Act generally holds that watching television is not an infringement, unless:

[In] an establishment other than a food service or drinking establishment, and... 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.... 17 USC 110(5)(B)(i)(II).
This just demonstrates how technology is now outpacing the law. I'm sure there was a time when 55 inches seemed like the largest television possible, but you can now HDTVs twice that size. In any event, it hardly makes sense that infringement is based on the television you are watching on. This is a bad law that will need to be fixed, and soon.