A federal judge in California has rejected Disney’s effort to stop Redbox from reselling download codes of popular Disney titles like Frozen, Beauty and the Beast, and the latest Star Wars movies.
Judge Dean Pregerson’s Tuesday ruling invoked the little-used doctrine of copyright misuse, which holds that a copyright holder loses the right to enforce a copyright if the copyright is being abused. Pregerson faulted Disney for tying digital download codes to physical ownership of discs, a practice that he argued ran afoul of copyright’s first sale doctrine, which guarantees customers the right to resell used DVDs.
If the ruling were upheld on appeal, it would have sweeping implications. It could potentially force Hollywood studios to stop bundling digital download codes with physical DVDs and force video game companies to rethink their own practices.