In the most recent litigation battle between powerhouses Disney and Redbox, Redbox triumphed as a federal court judge rejected Disney’s request for an injunction. In its initial lawsuit filed in December, Disney alleged that Redbox was in violation of their contract and of Disney’s copyrights due to its sale of download codes for Disney movies. According to Deadline, Disney points to the small print on the bottom of its movie packaging stating that the download codes “are not for sale or transfer” as evidence of breach of contract. The company further claims that Redbox encouraged its customers to make illegal digital reproductions of Disney’s movies. As a result, Disney sought an injunction against the company and damages beginning at $150,000 per statutory award. In response, Redbox countersued alleging that Disney was inappropriately using its copyright as a way to cut off competition with Redbox.
This past Tuesday, California Judge Dean Pregerson denied Disney’s injunction for its failure to show a high likelihood of success in court. Judge Pregerson agreed that Disney’s actions, in trying to prevent its customers from digitally transferring videos they have purchased, are a misuse of its copyright that go against public policy goals codified in the Copyright Act. Additionally, in response to the wording on Disney’s packaging, the judge said that this type of labeling is “demonstrably false.” Although Redbox won this battle, there will likely be a long, drawn-out war to come between these two companies.
Jenna El-Fakih is an Entertainment Highlight Contributor for the Harvard Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law and a current first year student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2020).