Hosting a Super Bowl Party at Church—Is It Legal?
Public events involving copyrighted material raise challenges.

A few years ago the National Football League challenged a church in Indianapolis for showing the Super Bowl, a practice hundreds of churches around the country engage in. After public outcry, the NFL re-issued a statement with a less severe tone. This high-profile battle brought awareness to the ongoing problem of copyright violations within churches.

In its re-issued statement, the NFL indicated a church could not charge for people to view the Super Bowl.

Thinking in a broader scope, caution should always be used whenever publicly offering a viewing of a program or event. Check with the sponsoring organization or your attorney.

Video use is indeed one primary area churches may need to consider when it comes to intellectual property and copyright issues. In essence, the FBI warning at the beginning of a rented video states that it is for home use. Showing a complete video outside of the home is considered a violation of the law. Some have challenged this law citing the "Fair Use Clause" allowing nonprofits to use the video for educational purposes. However, it is smart to look into purchasing an annual license from Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI) and following their guidelines for usage (

Adapted from the downloadable resourceCopyright Law: What Every Church Must Knowwhich covers other primary areas churches may need to consider when it comes to intellectual property and copyright issues: music and websites.Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churchesis also a great resource that covers this topic.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.


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