Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at 2004 Super Bowl.
A Philadelphia court has ruled that CBS television stations do not have to pay a $550,000 fine for the so-called "wardrobe malfunction" that happened at the 2004 Super Bowl. Reuters

An appeals court has ruled that CBS does not have pay a $550,000 fine for Janet Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction.

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) arbitrarily and capriciously ignored a rule that protects broadcasters from being prosecuted when fleeting images show up on screen, Reuters reported.

An FCC spokesman commented on the ruling, saying that the organization was disappointed and will continue to use all of the authority at its disposal to ensure that the nation's broadcasters fulfill the public interest responsibilities that accompany their use of the public airwaves, CNN reported.

The Parents Television Council (PTC) also released a statement.

Today's ruling reaches the level of judicial stupidity and is a sucker-punch to families everywhere, PTC president Tim Winter said in the statement, adding How can nudity and a striptease in front of 90 million unsuspecting TV viewers not qualify as indecency?

So what does this ruling mean for performers?

Protection against fleeting images will remain in place, possibly making performers sigh in relief should the same thing happen to them. So-called wardrobe malfunctions are quite common in the performance artist realm, particularly with female singers. Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Britney Spears and others have all had their costumes let them down, so to speak.

Wardrobe malfunctions have even happened to television performers. In 2005, a scene in an episode of The O.C. accidentally revealed actress Mischa Barton's nipple.

There are some who question whether all wardrobe malfunctions are created equal, speculating that maybe some of them are done on purpose as publicity stunts.