NFL Nixes Super Bowl Church Parties
Says airing game on large screen, even for free, violates copyright
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2008 10:09 AM CST
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) takes off his hat and puts on his helmet as practice begins at Sun Devil Stadium on the Arizona State University campus in Tempe, Ariz., ThursdayJan. 31,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The NFL is pulling the plug on big Super Bowl parties—complete with halftime prayers—that have become a popular tradition at many churches, saying the churches violate copyright law by showing the game to the flock on large-screen TVs. Current law bans public exhibitions of the game on screens larger than 55 inches. "Doesn't the NFL have enough money already?" one disgruntled pastor quipped to the Washington Post.

Though churches charge no admission for their parties—some of which draw hundreds of fans—the NFL argues that gatherings around big screens outside of homes shrinks TV ratings, which hurts advertising revenues. Only sports bars are exempt from the 55-inch rule. Some churches are changing the name of their parties to evade NFL scrutiny; a civil liberties group is threatening to sue.