If you purchase a movie bundle including multiple formats, is it legal to distribute one or more of those formats—at no cost—to varying family members and/or friends? When I say "distribute" I mean to give away the original without making copies.

The verbiage from one Blu-Ray + DVD + Digital HD combo reads "Unless expressly authorized in writing by the copyright owner, any copying, exhibition, export, distribution or other use of this product or any part of it is strictly prohibited."

I realize the above's intent is to prevent piracy and resale, but the way it's worded suggests that it's even illegal to give away the entire set, perhaps as a gift. That seems ridiculous and raises more questions than it addresses. Spirit of the law aside, I'm trying to understand my rights with each original copy found in a bundle.

3 Answers 3


There was a lawsuit Disney v Redbox in 2018 and 2019 about exactly that. It settled. Lawfull masses has 6 videos about the topic.

In part, it did lead to Disney altering the ToS of the digital download/streaming site they use to include that you need to own the DVD to be not in violation and to not break the combo pack.


In the USA, things are often based on the "first sale" doctrine. Which means that when you buy a copyrighted item, you then have the right to sell, or give away, the complete copyrighted item (and either you must add all the copies, or all the copies you made must be destroyed; you can't keep a copy). What you plan, giving away half of your purchase, is not allowed due to the first sale doctrine.

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    Are you sure the OP hasn't received two copyrighted works? If I buy a combo pack of two distinct physical copies of a novel (e.g., suppose one is large-print, and the other small-print), do I always have to distribute them together to enjoy my first-sale rights? If I buy some kind of classroom kit that includes 30 copies of a novel, is that also one work that must be distributed together? If I buy a Narnia box set with the whole series, can I not give away one book? Specifically, I'm curious what criteria you are using to determine whether the DVD combo pack is one work or many works.
    – apsillers
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 15:51
  • @apsillers The specific criteria that I had in mind would be an individually wrapped package including a single movie in three forms: a physical Blu-Ray, physical DVD, and redemption code for Digital HD. However, your examples bring up some interesting cases. I wouldn't expect it to be illegal to disburse items from a classroom kit or bulk purchase.
    – Jeff
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 20:50

Video stores sell previously viewed titles without the digital download s all the time, some are even selling them separately as a unique product. In litigation, it is likely to be established that the spirit of the contractual language is intended specifically to prevent unauthorized copies of an intellectual property from being sold / marketed and not parts or portions of the product that was lawfully purchased and re-sold in whole or part. Consider you purchased the "combo" pack, used the digital download (which could not be used again), then later sold the physical disc(s). This is the same scenario, but in reverse.

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