Disney sues Redbox over sales of digital movies

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The House of Mouse is seeing red over Redbox selling digital copies of its flicks for less than what they can cost to download online.

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Disney takes on Rebox

On November 30, Disney filed a lawsuit against Redbox in the hopes of stopping the ubiquitous DVD rental company from providing access to digital copies of its movies.

Here’s the backstory: Redbox has partnerships with leading film studios to get special DVD and Blu-ray copies of movie titles that don’t come with download codes as films normally do when you buy them in the store.

However, Redbox has no such distribution arrangement with Disney.

So Redbox is like a consumer itself when it wants to carry a Disney title; it has to buy the movies at retail before it can offer them for rent in any of its 40,000+ machines nationwide.

When Redbox buys those Disney titles, each one comes with a download code that’s intended to let consumers take their movies with them on the go via their mobile devices.

The Wall Street Journal reports Redbox charges consumers between $7.99 to $14.99 per title for the Disney download codes that come inside the box.

That effectively lets consumers download hot films such as Cars 3 or Star Wars: The Force Awakens for less than it can cost to download them elsewhere.

With both titles going as downloads for $19.99 at the iTunes store, Redbox has a price advantage of about $5 for iOS users.


(Google Play, meanwhile, has both of those particular Disney titles available for download at $14.99 each — putting it at parity with Redbox’s download pricing.)

Disney thinks it has a clear-cut case here. After all, the boxes that DVDs and Blu-rays come in at retail are clearly marked with the following — “Codes are not for sale or transfer.”

The movie studio is asking for profits from all Redbox sales of its titles or damages of up to $150,000 per instance of copyright infringement.

Redbox, however, believes it will prevail. A company spokeswoman is quoted by the Journal as saying Redbox feels “very confident in our pro-consumer position.”

This much is clear — the Mickey Mouse gloves are coming off and we’ll have to wait and see how this one plays out in court!

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