NFL puts kibosh on church Super Bowl party

Fall Creek Baptist Church

Richard Essex/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - By now, most Colts fans have a pretty good idea of where they'll be Sunday to watch the Colts take on the Bears in Miami. The Fall Creek Baptist Church planned on opening up the building Sunday afternoon to watch the game. But the NFL sent them a letter informing the church that they're in violation of copyright and trademark laws.

In Sunday school you typically don't learn the meaning of trademark or copyright laws - at least until now.

Dr. John Newland, Fall Creek Baptist Church, said the church told the NFL they would comply with copyright law, but "they still said we have a problem with the size screen you plan to show the game on."

This Sunday the Fall Creek Baptist church had planned on showing the Super Bowl on a giant screen in the church's multi-purpose room. The church had posted the event on its website, printed flyers and even ordered food. Then the NFL sent the church a letter of warning.

"The letter of the law says they have the right to control their trademark and their product," said Gary Roberts, Indiana University - Indianapolis Law School.

The words "Super Bowl" are a trademark of NFL and the broadcasts are also owned by the NFL. The NFL does not allow public performances of its games, even at church.

Churches don't regularly show football games as part of their business, which is part of the reason why bars and taverns are allowed to show the games to anyone walking in. But to the Fall Creek Baptist Church, the NFL is the "No Fun League."

Roberts admits that the NFL is within its rights. "They're just selectively enforcing it in a way that looks bad."

Newland points out that after the AFC championship game, fans saw everyone from owner Jim Irsay to Coach Tony Dungy to the players thanking God, but fans will not be able to see the game in God's house - at least not this one.

No one is allowed to broadcast the game on a screen bigger than 55 inches outside your house or with a large group. The NFL basically wants you at home watching the game with family. The NFL claims large gatherings skew the Nielsen number which are the numbers used to sell commercials.

Meantime, Purdue University is setting up big screen televisions and projectors in common areas of the dorms for the game - something the NFL will certainly frown on.