"Begun, the Code War Has!" Disney and Redbox Battle Over Digital Movie Codes

Aaron Moss Devin McRae Robert Rotstein
February 24, 2018


When you buy a DVD or Blu-ray disc of a movie that comes with a code for a digital copy of that film, can you re-sell that code? This simple question raises complex issues of contract, copyright and unfair competition law, including issues of first impression as the courts decide how existing rules apply in the context of digital movies. These issues are front and center in a bitter legal dispute between two entertainment industry giants, Disney and Redbox, after Redbox started offering digital movie codes it obtained from buying DVD and Blu-ray discs of Disney films for re-sale to its customers, and Disney filed a lawsuit to stop Redbox from engaging in this activity. Copyright experts Devin McRae, Aaron Moss and Robert Rotstein analyze and debate the key issues raised by this lawsuit and offer their seasoned predictions for how the courts will resolve them.


Devin McRae, Partner, Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Aaron Moss, Partner, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Robert Rotstein, Partner, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP, Los Angeles, CA

Devin McRae is a business litigator with a particular emphasis in entertainment, intellectual property and employment disputes, including those concerning breach of contract, copyright and trademark infringement, idea submission, royalties and participations, distribution agreements, trade secrets, discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination. Mr. McRae also has extensive experience in real estate, partnership, investment and insurance coverage-related disputes. His clients include television networks, prominent artists and producers, and insurance companies. In connection with his representation of clients in the television industry, Mr. McRae is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He is routinely called upon by the media to provide commentary on high profile issues of entertainment law and litigation. He has been selected for inclusion in Southern California Super Lawyers Editions 2016-2018, Southern California Super Lawyers–Rising Stars Editions 2009, 2011-2015, and was named in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016-2018 for Intellectual Property Litigation. In 2016, the Daily Journal selected Mr. McRae as one of California’s “Top 40 Under 40” lawyers. Mr. McRae is AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell. Prior to co-founding Early Sullivan, Mr. McRae practiced at the Los Angeles Glaser Weil firm and international firms Dorsey & Whitney and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. He received his law degree in 2002 from UCLA School of Law. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of New Mexico where he graduated summa cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Robert Rotstein grew up in Culver City, California, then the location of the famed MGM Studios and so the true “Hollywood.” To this day, the city’s motto is “The Heart of Screenland.” Robert’s elementary school was caddy corner to one of the studio’s back lots. At an early age, he became hooked on legal dramas – not only Perry Mason, the archetype of the legal mystery, but also on the politically charged The Defenders and lesser known shows like Judd for the Defense, The Young Lawyers, and The Trials of O’Brien – lawyers doing justice. Perhaps Robert’s early combination of life in an entertainment-company town and fascination with the lawyer-as-hero made it inevitable that he’d become both an attorney whose practice focuses on the entertainment industry and an author of legal thrillers: during breaks from representing movie studios and well-known writers, directors, and musicians in copyright and IP cases, Robert penned the critically acclaimed novels Corrupt Practices, Reckless Disregard, and The Bomb Maker’s Son. Robert graduated from the University of California Los Angeles School of Law in 1976, where he received the Order of the Coif and was a member of the UCLA Law Review. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a B.A. degree in 1973, summa cum laude, and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Aaron Moss is the chair of Greenberg Glusker's litigation department and is also a member of its intellectual property department. He specializes in representing owners and users of creative content, and has been recognized by virtually every major legal and entertainment business publication as one of the preeminent intellectual property litigators in his field. Mr. Moss has been named to The Hollywood Reporter’s “Top 100 Power Lawyers” list, Variety’s “Legal Impact Report,” the Daily Journal’s “Top IP Litigators in California,” and was named among the city’s top IP attorneys in the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of “40 Angelenos to Know in Intellectual Property Law.” Mr. Moss litigates high-profile copyright and trademark actions for both plaintiffs and defendants, including studios, independent distributors, production companies, video game publishers, toy companies, apparel manufacturers, technology firms and individuals. He has particularly extensive experience handling matters involving the ownership, licensing and termination of rights in fictional characters, including such globally-recognized properties as Godzilla, Spider-Man, Lassie, Frosty the Snowman, and Casper the Friendly Ghost. Mr. Moss also provides advice and counsel in connection with intellectual property acquisitions and transfers, conducts complex chain of title analyses, and engages in pre-publication clearance reviews for authors, publishers, filmmakers, and video game companies – often enabling them to avoid costly lawsuits. In addition to his copyright and trademark practices, Mr. Moss has litigated high-stakes profit participation cases, prosecuted and defended idea submission claims, and has represented award-winning actors and performers in right of publicity actions involving the unauthorized use of their names, voices and likenesses. He also handles defamation, invasion of privacy and other media-related disputes, as well as cybersquatting, false advertising, unfair competition and breach of contract actions across a wide range of industries.

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