Sunday, February 04, 2007

First Baptist to Violate Copyright Law

Perhaps that's what the hed should be on this story from today's SnoozeLeader:

First Baptist to hold Super Bowl service
First Baptist Church will offer a Super Bowl Service at 4 p.m. today, followed by the game shown on a big projection screen.

Activities will also include food and board games. All attending are urged to bring a pot of their favorite soup andÊ a snack item to share with the group.

The church will also be collecting cans of soup or other canned goods to be donated to the Grand Oaks Mission.

There is a federal copyright law prohibiting public venues from showing NFL games on big-screen TVs. And several megachurches are being forced to cancel their Super Bowl parties:
....The law has been widely ignored for years....This year, however, a celebration sponsored by Falls Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis caught the attention of a National Football League attorney, Rachel L. Margolies.

....The intent of the law, which dates to the 1960s, is to protect the NFL's television ratings by preventing large crowds from gathering to watch games in public places -- where their viewing habits aren't measured by the Nielsen ratings. (The ratings only measure viewership at home.) Sports bars and other businesses that rely on televised sports to draw patrons are exempt.

Under NFL guidelines -- and federal law -- churches, schools and other public venues can hold football-viewing parties only if they use a single, living-room-size TV, no bigger than 55 inches.

I suppose First Baptists could argue that the First Amendment supersedes the copyright law and that they are simply peaceably assembling to freely exercise their religion, which just happens to involve the worshipping of football.