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Legal Half Time Entertainment

The following is a guest post by Steve Clarke, Senior Foreign Law Specialist.

In Custodia Legis wasn’t around last year when our fellow Library of Congress blogs, Inside Adams and In the Muse, discussed advertising and music surrounding the big game.  So I thought this year we should follow the trend and write about one of the legal aspects of the Super Bowl spectacle.

I recently heard that the Black Eyed Peas are to perform at the halftime of Super Bowl XLV and it reminded me of the last time they got up on stage during the break of a national football championship game.  It was at Canada’s Grey Cup, which was held in Vancouver in 2005.  The Canadian Football League usually picks well-known Canadian acts for its Grey Cup halftime shows and 2005 was not only unusual, but by virtually all accounts unusually bad.  The Canadian Press and others sharply criticized the Peas’ act, and it was said that fans found it to be short indeed in the artistic merit category.

But even though the performance attracted considerable scorn from critics and fans, it did not attract the attention of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission which could have revoked broadcasting licenses and imposed fines had there been a breach of the broadcasting regulations.  In this category we are still leading Canada 1-0 with our one tally arising out of Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004.  That case resulted in the Federal Communications Commission imposing a record fine of $550,000.  That fine was thrown out in 2008 by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in CBS v. FCC, but the case was remanded by the Supreme Court in 2009 and has yet to be concluded.

By the way, the 2005 Grey Cup was won by the Edmonton Eskimos — who wear Green and Gold uniforms and are Canada’s northernmost team.  A coincidence I’m sure since Chicago Bears fans like me are not known for being especially keen on a certain team matching that description who is playing in this year’s Super Bowl.

Update: Looks like Inside Adams and In the Muse got in on the game again this year.  Inside Adams has a picture from Super Bowl IIn the Muse has a Super Bowl Edition of their Sheet Music of the Week.

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