Disney and Redbox have been arguing over digital rights to the studios films for a couple years now, and surprise, surprise- Disney won. Redbox has agreed to never sell digital codes for Disney films found in their combo pack releases. The legal battle began two years ago, when Disney found out that the kiosk service was separating the Blu-ray, DVD, and digital codes and selling the digital copy on its own. Since that is technically a no-no (its right there on the paper in the disc tray), Disney got mad. Redbox countered that Disney was participating in anticompetitive behavior, especially with the pending release of Disney+. Redbox claimed that under the “first sale doctrine they had the right to sell the codes since as the buyer they are allowed to sell or dispose of the property any way they see fit.
They actually won! Well, the first bout anyway. After some back and forth, the judge in the case ruled that an injunction could be placed on Redbox now that “digital access is conditioned not on possession of the discs, but on the manner of Code acquisition.” Instead of continuing the fight, Redbox has admitted defeat and agreed to the Disney injunction forever.
Those of us who purchase films on physical media know that part of the added value to the disc is that digital copy. As more and more people de-clutter their lives, owning the digital copies has become preferable to adding another case to the shelf. Companies like Disney, Hulu, Netflix, and the other 1,965 streaming services know that as well. Expect them to crack way down on the trading and sale of digital movies going forward. I personally know someone who sold codes in a public forum and was penalized big time for doing so. So, next time you buy a copy of any film on disc, and you think about selling that code to offset the cost, think twice. Disney may be watching.