The NFL’s Copyright Claims Enter US Folklore in Tampa

The NFL is the champion of claiming copyrights that have no legal reality.  Their copyright statement actually requires anyone describing one of their games to get permission.  Do you believe I can’t do that?  Of course not, but the NFL’s broad claim of rights persists.

The NFL threatened law professor Wendy Seltzer for posting their copyright statement to YouTube, and they went after church congregations who gathered to watch the Super Bowl for creating “public performances” in violation of their copyright.

So can you blame the dormitory managers at the University of Tampa who, in order to stay on the right side of the NFL’s copyright, prohibited more than 3.4 students (yes, that’s 3 and two-fifths of a student), from gathering in any place on campus to watch the big game?

I’m not sure who counts as two-fifths of a person in Florida, but apparently the thinking there is that an average family has 3.4 people.  So any gathering larger than an average family might be illegal.  This of course deserves ridicule, but that’s what happens when over-reaching copyright claims are allowed to stand.

This week, GateHouse Media v The New York Times allowed website “linking policies” to continue to asset themselves as a part of copyright law. The Times’s concession to Gatehouse will inspire general counsels to restrict their firms from linking to news or industry sources unless they specifically have permission.

Until overblown copyright claims get brought into court, their threat and potential broad application  changes behavior.  And does so at a cost to efficient and free speech.

Comments are closed.