The National Football League has a few requirements that churches and other organizations must follow in order to host a Super Bowl party. These requirements emerged a few years ago, after a dispute arose between the NFL and a large church that wanted to host a party.
As the big game approaches, here are four tips regarding these requirements that church leaders should note:
- Do not rent any equipment. Churches must use equipment they already own and regularly use to conduct their religious worship.
- Show the game live in your facility only. Recording the Super Bowl to exhibit later is not allowed. And streaming the party online, which might include portions of the broadcast shown at your facility, is also not allowed.
- Do not charge admission. However, the NFL allows churches to collect an offering to cover expenses.
- Be careful about how the party is promoted. We recommend churches not call it a "Super Bowl Party" in advertisements, announcements, social media mentions, and other promotions. Rather, we encourage churches to call it a "Big Game Party" or something similar. Also, avoid using the NFL logo and other branding associated with the league and the game. All of these items, including the term "Super Bowl," are trademarked by the NFL, and the NFL is vigilant about protecting its trademarks and intellectual property.
It's worth noting a lesson for church leaders here from the NFL about the value of intellectual property. My firm offers a guide that covers key aspects and questions related to intellectual property and churches. Christianity Today's Church Law & Tax Group, where I serve as an Editorial Advisor, publishes the Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches by Richard R. Hammar, who also covers some of these subjects.
It's critical for pastors and church leaders to understand the importance of protecting the church's intellectual property, protecting the intellectual property of pastors and staff, and the avoiding the infringement of intellectual property owned by other individuals and organizations.
This article was partially based on this video recorded by David Middlebrook for the Church Law Group. Used with permission.
David Middlebrook is an attorney licensed to practice in Texas, Colorado, and the District of Columbia, and his practice emphasis is focused on representing tax-exempt organizations.