Hosting a Game Day Bash? Brush Up on Copyright Basics

The first Sunday in February is a big day for sports fans. In fact, many Americans view Super Bowl Sunday as a national holiday. Friends and families will gather this year to watch the big game, enjoy delicious snacks, and of course, critique the commercials that go along with game day.

Because it’s a great opportunity for fun and fellowship, many churches reach out to their communities by hosting game day parties. However, in 2007, the NFL made churches think twice by sending a cease-and-desist letter to an Indianapolis church, ordering it to cancel a “Super Bowl Bash” the church was planning to host for about 400 members and their guests. The league cited its copyright infringement policy as the reason for contacting the church. Continue reading for recommendations from Brotherhood Mutual to help avoid the same for your ministry.

Party On, with a Few Precautions

The 2007 incident received a great deal of attention from the media and lawmakers. As a result, the NFL clarified its stance and granted churches permission to show the game as long as they follow a few specific guidelines. The guidelines that hold true today include:

  • The game must be shown on equipment your church regularly uses in a space the church owns. If your church owns a big screen and sound equipment that it uses for Sunday worship services, the game can be shown using this equipment. Renting space to watch the game is not allowed, even if your church rents space for regular worship services.
  • Your church cannot charge admission for your party. However, you may accept donations to defray the cost of food and other supplies.
  • To eliminate the risk of copyright infringement, your church should avoid using the logos of the NFL, the Super Bowl, and the participating teams. Referring to the NFL, the Super Bowl, or the teams by name is permissible.

Brush Up on Copyright Basics

Whether or not your church is hosting a game day celebration, sporting events like the Super Bowl provide a timely opportunity to brush up on copyright basics. For ministry-specific copyright information, be sure to check out the following resources here on


Complying with Copyright Laws
Copyright Laws and Fair Use

Legal Q&A

Complying with Copyright Law