Legally Hosting A Church Super Bowl Viewing Party

February 3, 2024

Attention, football fans! On February 11th, 2024, the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII (58) at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada. This marks the Chiefs’ fourth Super Bowl appearance in the past five seasons. Last year, they were crowned champions, winning the game 38-35 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched football events in America, and many church leaders organize “friendship evangelism” celebrations as part of the national Super Bowl viewing tradition. Hosting “Big Game” viewing parties provides churches an excellent opportunity to reach out to their community in a warm and dynamic way. But what copyright issues should churches consider?

Several elements of intellectual property rights are involved in the Super Bowl, which falls under both Copyright and Trademark protection. These rights give the National Football League (NFL) ownership of the rights to the text, images, photographs, video, audio, graphics, user interface, and other content provided on their services and the selection, coordination, and arrangement of such content. This also gives them the rights to product names, company names, trade names, logos, product packaging, and designs. Therefore, any non-official advertising or transmission of this content is a viable infringement.

The great news is that churches can host Super Bowl parties without fear of penalties and interference from the NFL for copyright infringement–IF they stay within certain boundaries.

In recent years, the NFL has relaxed its stance on allowing religious organizations to host Super Bowl viewing parties. There are some important rules, however, to follow to sidestep possible copyright infringement:

  • Location matters. The NFL will not object when a church has a party for its congregants to watch the Super Bowl together if it holds its “viewing party” in its usual place of worship and does not charge a fee for attending the viewing party. NOTE: The NFL’s grant of permission is with respect to the church property only, NOT rented spaces.
  • Don’t use logos. If a church only uses NFL marks and no logos to describe the party in materials distributed to its congregants, the NFL will not object. For example, you can refer to the party as the Super Bowl party, and you can refer to the two teams participating, but a church cannot use the NFL Shield, Super Bowl, or Club logos.
  • The limited recording exclusion. The NFL will not object to churches utilizing a digital recording device to make a temporary copy of the game if it interferes with Sunday evening services. Any other uses outside the scope of the activities listed above would require permission and licensing from the NFL.

Churches also often play or perform music for half-time during a viewing party. The NFL doesn’t cover music performance rights for playing or performing music in a facility. But with CCS’s PERFORMmusic Facilities License, your church has comprehensive coverage for millions of religious and secular songs to use at your event. If you have any questions about what types of licensing your church may need, e-mail us or call 855-576-5837.

About Christian Copyright Solutions: CCS’s goal is to help churches and Christian ministries “do music right.” CCS is an expert on church music copyrights, and our primary focus is providing licensing and clear educational resources to churches and advocacy for copyright owners. Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Youtube. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.

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