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M.I.A. may owe big money for Super Bowl halftime contract violation

Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: MIA performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

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After Sunday night’s finger malfunction during the Super Bowl XLVI halftime, we observed that the contracts for the musical acts “should contain stiff financial penalties for anyone who makes obscene statements or gestures.”

Apparently, they do.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells Yahoo! Sports that the documents include language regarding improper behavior. “We do have [safeguards regarding artist conduct] written into their contracts,” Aiello said.

Aiello wouldn’t say whether M.I.A. faces financial liability for the middle finger fiasco. Frankly, he doesn’t need to.

Safeguards in contracts against misconduct typically consist of the payment of money, often via something known under the law as “liquidated damages.” Basically, the parties agree in advance that the actual harm resulting from a violation will be too difficult to tabulate, so they agree to a specific payment that will be due and owing if/when the party does that which the party agreed not to do.