Redbox Ruling Not What Most Expected18 Aug, 2009 By: Thomas K. Arnold
Well, the verdict is in, and it's not quite what everyone expected. Given our legal system's history of siding with intellectual property owners, studio executives were hoping a federal judge would quickly dismiss an antitrust lawsuit filed by Redbox against Universal Studios Home Entertainment over the studio's decision to impose a 45-day window on new releases. Similar windows subsequently have been imposed by 20th Century Fox (30 days) and Warner Bros. (28 days), and Redbox has already filed a similiar suit against Fox, with a third action likely against Warner. The Universal suit hasn't seen any action since last March, but today's ruling--and you can read the full story by clicking here--came as something of a surprise, since studio executives have privately said they believe a ruling in Universal's favor was imminent. Not that this is a defeat for Hollywood's attempts to maintain control over its own product, since the actual suit has yet to be heard, but it's certainly a setback.
Here's the press release that just came in from Redbox, which also directs reporters to a new site the kiosk company has launched in an attempt to get the public all riled up over the studios' attempts to crack down on dollar rentals. Studios believe the low price and ready availability of video-rental kiosks in such places as Wal-Mart stores is cannibalizing the sales business, while Redbox chief Mitch Lowe--a former independent retailer and Netflix pioneer--argues that his company is merely giving consumer what they want in these trying economic times.