February 6, 2010 | Digital Rights

NFL logo

A lot of posts on the blogosphere are talking about the NFL’s policy regarding SuperBowl parties and how it’s actually illegal to watch the SuperBowl on a TV larger than 55 inches.

But is that really true?

Sort of.

Copyright and Public Performance

Regardless of what the NFL’s “policy” might be, people wouldn’t have to follow what they just because of their policy.

What gives force to their policy is the copyright law on public performance. The purpose behind that law was to prevent people from buying a playwright’s play and performing it and taking the profit from it without any going to the original playwright.

So the law as it stands today prevents public performance of any copyrighted work (play, book, movie, or other video) without the copyright-holder’s permission.

55 Inch TVs

Believe it or not, the law actually mentions 55-inch TV’s specifically:

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 one audiovisual device is located in any 1 room, and no such audiovisual device has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches, and any audio portion of the performance or display is communicated by means of a total of not more than 6 loudspeakers, of which not more than 4 loudspeakers are located in any 1 room or adjoining outdoor space;

Source

What is Public Performance?

But the real question is, what is public?

The section of law above only applies to restaurants and bar more than 2000 square feet large:

in the case of an establishment other than a food service or drinking establishment, either the establishment in which the communication occurs has less than 2,000 gross square feet of space (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose), or the establishment in which the communication occurs has 2,000 or more gross square feet of space (excluding space used for customer parking and for no other purpose) and—

So, you’re safe if you’re just hosting a party at home no matter how large your TV is.

Resources

Slashdot article
ArsTechnica article


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