I believe if I was a church, as long as I wasn't charging admission, I'd do as planned and see if the NFL really wanted to sue a church for showing the SB on it's projection TV. I know the reasoning but IMHO it's too far reaching. But it's not my money....
I know the NFL has to protect their copyright BUT they don't have to take a proactive stance like this with all the baring of teeth.
Sorry, churches, the party's over
NFL ban forces nationwide cancellations of Super Bowl events
By Robert King
At Indian Creek Christian Church on the Southeastside, church leaders yanked up banners that had been beckoning people to come to Sunday's "Super Bowl XLI Party."
At Seymour's Cornerstone Ministry Center, church leaders began looking for something to do with the food they had planned to serve to football fans Sunday night.
And at Green Valley Church of Christ in Noblesville, the church decided it would rather cancel its Super Bowl party than run the risk of running afoul of the NFL.
In what might constitute a seismic shift in Super Bowl viewing habits, churches across the country started scrapping their party plans Thursday after the NFL warned anyone who violates federal copyright law -- churches included.
The wave of party pooping started in Indianapolis with a report in Thursday's Indianapolis Star that the NFL told Fall Creek Baptist Church that its plans for a big-screen showing of the game were improper.
By day's end, churches from Texas to Ohio were calling the newspaper to ask if the NFL's stance was firm. Told it was, they said they intended to end long-standing traditions of congregational Super Bowl parties.
"I'm not sure quite what we're going to do," said Tamara Mayne, a member of Cypress United Methodist Church in Houston, which quashed its Super Bowl party Thursday.
The issue facing churches across the country is their use of big-screen TVs to show the Super Bowl in what the NFL deems "mass out-of-home viewings."
The NFL considers big gatherings -- whether in churches, movie theaters or casinos -- to be a huge no-no if the game is being shown on TV screens bigger than 55 inches wide or if the host charges admission to watch.
Many churches, such as Fall Creek and others, had planned to use projectors to put the clash between the Colts and the Bears on walls and screens, some 12 feet wide or larger.
But the NFL is being quick to point out that federal copyright law bans public exhibitions of NFL games on sets or screens larger than 55 inches. In other words, churches and other private groups can watch the game on smaller screens, but partying with a monster screen is taboo.
Violators could, in an extreme case, be sued, although legal experts said juries might be hard-pressed to give the NFL a monetary verdict against a church.
Still, copyright experts said the NFL's stance is grounded firmly in the law. "Legally, they do have a pretty strong case," said Marshall Leaffer, a professor at the Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington.
But while the NFL appears to be on solid legal footing, it has fallen on the field of public opinion. The Star received scores of calls and more than 600 comments on its Web site Thursday. More than 90 percent chided the NFL as the No Fun League, or worse.
Adding fuel to the fire is the exception to the big-screen rule that the law and the NFL grants to sports bars and restaurants. Those businesses can show the games on big screens and multiple TVs because they show televised sports all year.
Despite the scathing criticism, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello was unyielding Thursday when asked whether the league might cut the churches a break.
"No," he said. "It's copyright law."
Fall Creek's Rev. John D. Newland, who learned of his church's legal peril in a letter from the NFL, spent Thursday explaining his situation to media around the country. Lawyers from Louisiana even called, pledging to fight the good fight for him. But Newland said the church must comply.
"I don't want to inspire anybody to break the law. . . . I think the law is antiquated and I think it needs to be addressed."
At Castleton United Methodist Church, Joyce Hamon could hardly believe the NFL's position when she read it in The Star. "I'm almost flabbergasted," she said. By midmorning, her husband, the Rev. Mac Hamon, had pulled the plug on his church's party. "We just didn't want to take chances," she said.
In Seymour, Cornerstone Ministry had put an ad in the local paper advertising a party that was to feature the game projected on a 12-foot screen, free snacks, drinks, hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as a halftime devotional on what it means to be a "super person."
The Rev. Crawford Huff, who had been putting on church Super Bowl parties for 30 years, woke up to the news from Indianapolis, and by midday had decided to do away with a tried-and-true outreach tool.
"We've got a lot of food to give away," Huff said, adding that the church has a biblical mandate to obey the laws of the land.
"We want to be obedient."