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National Football League
Hall Of Shame Member
Added August 29, 2008

Last Updated January 15, 2010

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The National Football League is in the Tabberone Trademark & Copyrights Abusers' Hall Of Shame for a double whammy of copyright misuse. The first one is for the phony restrictions they place, and attempt to enforce, on their "licensed" fabrics. On the selvage of NFL fabrics is the wording:

This pattern is licensed by the NFL. This is for individual consumption only. Any unauthorized use of this fabric is prohibited and illegal.

This statement is a lie. It is a lie by Fabric Traditions, the manufacturer of the fabrics, and by the National Football League, the licensor of the fabrics.

First, the word "licensed". Licensed fabric means the fabric is licensed by the rights owner to be manufactured and sold. It does not mean the fabric is licensed at the time it is sold. A license on the use of the fabric requires the person buying it to agree, usually in writing, to conditions on the use of the fabric before paying for the fabric. If you do not agree to the "license" before purchasing, they will sell the fabric to you anyway. In fact, no one even asks you if you agree to the license. They just sell you the fabric. Any fabric sold without a signed mutual agreement prior to the sale is not licensed and there are no provisions in the law that allow for otherwise. Any one who tells you otherwise is lying. And, under the definition of a "license", they would record your name and address, require periodic payments, and demand the fabric be returned to them when you are done with it. That just does not happen.

It is a lie by Fabric Traditions, the manufacturer of the fabrics, and by the National Football League, the licensor of the fabrics.

What is "individual consumption" and what law allows Fabric Traditions and the National Football League to restrict the use of the fabric in this manner? Individuals "consume" food and drink but what was the last time you saw someone knawing on a bolt of fabric? This phrase is supposed to mimic the more angry one, "Not for commercial use", which is just as stupid and as much a illegal restriction by the manufacturer.

It is a lie by Fabric Traditions, the manufacturer of the fabrics, and by the National Football League, the licensor of the fabrics.

And the term "unauthorized use" is a favorite of the trademark bullies but it simply does not apply to the fabric. We sued Major League Baseball Properties over this very issue and all they wanted to do was settle. We predict that if anyone were to sue the NFL over the use of their fabrics the National Football League would surrender faster than the French Army.

It is a lie by Fabric Traditions, the manufacturer of the fabrics, and by the National Football League, the licensor of the fabrics.


This telecast is copyrighted by the NFL for the private use of our audience.
Any other use of this telecast or of any pictures, descriptions, or accounts
of the game without the NFL's consent, is prohibited.


How many people out there have heard the above statement? Raise your hands. Hmmm. That is about everyone. The statement seems simple enough and somewhat straight forward. So, our question is why don't the lawyers for the NFL read and understand it? It's a basic copyright statement. Because, perhaps, their lawyers are idiots? Maybe the lawyers for the NFL should not be allowed out to play without their helmets on?

The National Football League came to our attention when we stumbled across some articles about how the NFL had stomped on the rights of some churches that intended to have Super Bowl get-togethers in 2008. An article by the Christian Post on August 26, 2008, gives the outline.

Also, from indystar.com -
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league has a longstanding policy against "mass out-of-home viewings" of the Super Bowl, even if they don't charge admission. Hosts of parties can use only one TV that is no bigger than 55 inches, according to a league attorney.

And there are lots more out there. So, you ask, why are we including the NFL in the Tabberone Trademark & Copyright Abusers' Hall Of Shame? Because the National Football League is claiming copyright rights over and above those allowed by statute. Why do they do this? Because they can. Even the above Christian Post article got it wrong:

"NFL policy and copyright law ban mass out-of-home viewing except at sports bars and other businesses that televise sports as part of their everyday operations."

But Nathan Black, Christian Post Reporter, got it dead wrong, as did many other writers and a number of lawyers.

When the NFL licenses the football game to be broadcast, the rights of the live broadcast no longer belong to the NFL but to the television network that has purchased them. This does not mean that the NFL does not have residual rights in the broadcast. We are talking about the initial live broadcast, not re-runs, etc. The signal being transmitted by the network is free to viewers everywhere it can be receieved within a very limited set of restrictions. The broadcast contract is strictly between the National Football League and the television/cable network. NFL policy has no bearing, or legal authority, upon the recipient of the broadcast signal but federal law has a few restrictions most of which apply to commercial establishments.

US Copyright Law does not set any size limit on home-viewing televisions. By telling people that the NFL does not allow home-viewing on screens larger than 55 inches the NFL is lying to them about what they can and cannot do. The broadcast signal entering your home, or garage, or cabin, or church, is yours to watch even if you project the game onto a large screen. As long as you are watching the live transmission there is no legal limit on the size of the screen and there is no statutory authority allowing the NFL to claim the NFL has the right to limit the size of the screen.

US Copyright Law does not limit the number of people who can congregate in any one location to watch any television broadcast. The NFL's claim that large groups would change the ratings and therefore affect revenues is pure unadulterated bullshit trying to justify their unethical and immoral position. It's nothing more than an attempt to make it appear that the NFL has copyright law backing them when they do not. For one thing, viewership is not measured by the number of people but the number of monitored television sets that are tuned to the game. Unless one of the persons at the church gathering had a monitored television set, the numbers would not change.

US Copyright Law does limit the screen size at 55 inches for "food service or drinking establishments" and for "establishments" in gereral:

§ 101. Definitions
An “establishment” is a store, shop, or any similar place of business open to the general public for the primary purpose of selling goods or services in which the majority of the gross square feet of space that is nonresidential is used for that purpose, and in which nondramatic musical works are performed publicly

No where, we repeat, no where, does this definition include churches, schools, or other locations. As long as the people in the gathering ares not being charged to watch the broadcast, there is nothing in the US Copyright Law that prohibits a church from having a Super Bowl party on any size screen they want. The NFL can take their "policy" and put it and a football where the sun don't shine because it is not legally enforceable.

We also take exception to the NFL's policy of not allowing folks to advertise they are having a "Super Bowl" party, claiming the use of the term "Super Bowl" confuses the public into believing the party may be sponsored or affiliated with the NFL. Bull. Only an idiot, say someone like a lawyer for the National Football League, would believe some Sunday evening TV party is affiliated with the NFL or that the game party at Mo's tavern in Beetleberry Montana is sponsored by the NFL. Come on, commissioner! People are not that stupid. But it seems the NFL is.

But, the threat of a lawsuit from the NFL is enough to stop most people. Most, not all. One day, some one will fight them. Until then the penalty flag will not be thrown.

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