Who Owns the First Super Bowl Broadcast?

With Super Bowl 50 approaching this upcoming Sunday, the NFL has spent all season long celebrating the annual NFL Championship by reshowing every Super Bowl that has ever been played throughout time including highlights, interviews with prior players, and more.

However, the total broadcast of Super Bowl I has been practically impossible to get a hold of until now. Troy Haupt, an anesthetist from North Carolina, owns the only known recording of the Super Bowl I broadcast.

TV Networks CBS and NBC both originally broadcasted the game but did not save any of the tapes. Unfortunately, the NFL refuses to buy the tapes from Haupt and has warned him not to sell them to outside parties or else the league will pursue legal action. Haupt had offered to sell the tapes to the NFL and the league refused by counter offering him $30,000. Haupt refused and the NFL now refuses to pay him anything at all for the tapes.

CBS came to Haupt to interview him for a Super Bowl pregame segment that would have used a few minutes from the game. The company had agreed to pay him $25,000 and give him two tickets to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, CBS pulled their agreement last minute.

According to Haupt’s lawyer, Steve Harwood, the deal fell through when he was told that the NFL had ordered CBS not to pay him.

“They said they’d still put Troy on but couldn’t pay,” Harwood said. “After dealing with the NFL all these years, and with CBS, which screwed up, Troy said he wouldn’t do it for free.”

The NFL denied telling CBS not to pay Haupt. A representative from CBS said that the company chose not to do the feature because it couldn’t get the appropriate clearances.

Legally, the NFL owns the content of the Super Bowl I broadcast but not the recording, which Haupt owns. If the NFL refuses to purchase the recording, Haupt cannot sell the tapes to a third party like CBS or a collector. Haupt would like to persuade the NFL to sell the tapes jointly and donate some of the proceeds to their favorite charities.

This unfortunately is unlikely to happen. The league sent a letter to Harwood stating, “Since you have already indicated that your client is exploring opportunities for exploitation of the NFL’s Super Bowl I copyrighted footage with yet-unidentified parties, please be aware that any resulting copyright infringement will be considered intentional, subjecting your client and those parties to subjective relief and special damages, among other remedies.”

Legally, the NFL is the only entity that can profit from the game since they have the property right.

Either way, the NFL, CBS, and NBC should have preserved a copy of this game so they could have avoided this boondoggle.


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