NFL gets tough on black out violators
The NFL is cracking down on bars and restaurants that show Bucs games within the 75-mile black-out zone when the Bucs are blacked out locally. The NFL received several reports last week of bars in the area that broadcast the Bucs-Steelers game even though the game was supposed to be blacked out. According to NFL rules, if a game is not sold out within 72 hours of kickoff, it cannot be shown within 75 miles of the stadium. It's believed the establishments picked up the game feed off the Internet.
Here is the letter the NFL sent out to the local establishments believed to have shown the game last Sunday:
The National Football League ("NFL'') and its various entities own the copyrights in and to all television broadcasts and footage of NFL games ("NFL Game Telecasts''), including those played by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ("Buccaneers''). The U.S. Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §§ 101 et seq. (the "Copyright Act''), gives the holder of such copyrights various exclusive rights, including the right to control public performances of works.
We recently have been made aware that your establishment, without authorization from the NFL, showed to its patrons unauthorized Internet streams of NFL Game Telecasts, including Buccaneers home games that were not televised in your local area. This unauthorized public performance of copyrighted NFL Game Telecasts constitutes infringement under the Copyright Act and is a clear violation of the NFL's rights. The Copyright Act authorizes the award of damages of up to $150,000 for each game telecast infringed, plus temporary and permanent injunctive relief, court costs, and attorneys' fees.
For many years, rights holders, including the NFL, have pursued actions in federal courts across the country against entities that have unlawfully shown copyrighted works, whether through signal or Internet piracy. As every court that has considered this issue has concluded, there simply is no defense for unauthorized public performances of copyrighted works in these circumstances.
Accordingly, we demand that you immediately cease showing NFL Game Telecasts not televised locally and/or streamed illegally over the Internet. The NFL reserves the right to take all necessary measures to protect its valuable intellectual property rights, including asserting claims of willful copyright infringement and appropriate damages, should you fail to comply with these demands.