Could Redbox Crowdsource Its Way Around Movie Studio Blockades?

from the connecting-with-fans dept

Last week, we wrote about the legal battle Redbox is facing with some of the movie studios. Redbox, of course, rents DVDs at a $1/rental from vending machines that it places all over the place. Some of the studios are upset that (a) they don't get a cut of each rental and (b) that Redbox also sells those DVDs. So they've been trying to force Redbox to sign agreements that would give them a royalty cut and which would put limitations on Redbox -- such as not renting out videos until well after the DVDs are released and also having the company destroy, rather than sell DVDs when they were done renting them. Of course, the labels don't have much of a legal claim here. Redbox has every right to buy DVDs and to then rent them (right of first sale and all that). But, what at least some of the studios have done is to demand that DVD wholesalers not sell to Redbox, which certainly seems like a typical restraint of trade situation. In at least one case, a studio has also told downstream retailers, like Walmart and Best Buy not to sell to Redbox either.

Now, you might think that Redbox could just send employees into those stores without saying where they're from, but those stores probably don't carry enough stock for Redbox to buy enough DVDs efficiently. But what if they did something different? In the comments to that post last week, our rather insightful community started suggesting ways that Redbox could get around the sales blocks from studios by crowdsourcing the acquisition of movies.

There were a few different suggestions on how this could work, but the basic idea, presented by commenter "McBeese" laid out the basics:
  • Consumers open online accounts with Redbox. The account contains a Paypal id for deposits.
  • Redbox publishes how many copies of each DVD that they want.
  • Joe Consumer buys the movie, watches it, and then logs in to the Redbox site and 'pledges' the DVD. Each pledge automatically reduces the amount of a particular DVD that redbox is seeking.
  • Joe consumer mails in the DVD with an associated pledge number. When the DVD is received, the agreed amount is deposited into Joe Consumer's account.
A little slower than buying in bulk, but unstoppable.
I'd argue that rather than paying the user for it, Redbox could just credit their account for a certain number of free rentals. Then, not only does Redbox get these movies, but it builds up an even more loyal userbase... with really no significant way for the studios to block this out. There are some things that are tricky about this -- including verifying that the purchased DVDs are what they say they are, and coming up with a way to accurately handle the inventory management, but it is creative, and it shows that as much as the studios want to think they can control this market, there's always going to be some way around their restrictions.

Filed Under: crowdsourcing, dvds, movies
Companies: redbox


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  1. identicon
    Steve, 31 Oct 2009 @ 3:06pm

    Almost a decade the studios have been fighting the internet tooth and nail and getting nowhere. They need to come to terms with the fact that the new marketplace allows consumers to get whatever they want, however they want it, whenever they want it. It can't be stopped, it even be slowed down. The sooner they realize that with or without them, consumers are just going to continue down this path because it's what they want, the sooner they can start raking in the cheese. In the last 20 or 30 years, business has forgotten rule #1. That is you will only be successful if you offer a product that consumers want. End of discussion. Trying to get the market to conform to the way you do business is a hold out from the wrong-headed thinking of the 80's when it was easy to manipulate the market because there were no other avenues available. However it shakes out, the last 2 decades are going to be required reading in business and law classes of the future.

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