Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Lexmark Invokes DMCA in Toner Suit

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the all-the-weapons-at-your-disposal dept.

The Courts 530

Rhyas writes "Seems as though Lexmark has decided it wants all the pie when it comes to the printing world, as they are suing a company that does reselling of chips that allow third party toner cartridges to work in Lexmark printers. Cindy Cohn, an attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said she expected more cases like the one brought by Lexmark. 'We have long said that the DMCA's potential use as an anti-competitive tool has been great,' Cohn said. 'Now we're seeing it happen.'" The European Union is taking action against the practice of embedding chips in printer cartridges which make it difficult for third parties to sell refills.

cancel ×

530 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Toner? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046344)

Don't make me raise the tone of this first post.

buy an Xbox ! (-1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046346)

an XBox [xbo.cx] protects you from the goatse trolls [goatse.cx] !+

Hmm (5, Interesting)

Gortbusters.org (637314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046356)

This is very reminding of the recent article [slashdot.org] on Xbox keys, and how it restricts others from develping games without the MS overhead.

Lexmark, I dub thee the MS of printers!

Re:Hmm (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046436)

All the consoles have security measure to prevent just anybody from writing code on them. At least all the way back to the days of NES, where you needed to have a special chip in the cartrige for it to work. So Microsoft isn't any more evil than Nintendo, Sega, or Sony in this issue.

Plus, toner is a diffierent type of product than a video game. With toner, it is a consummable. Once you use the toner, its gone, and you have to buy new toner to continue using the printer. With video games, they last forever (well, assume proper care and the lifespan of the media they are on). You are never forced to buy new games to continue using the console.

Re:Hmm (1)

Gortbusters.org (637314) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046451)

True... It was just reminding of the general philosophy here:

I build and sell a product.. I may only supplement, add to, change, modify, etc to that product. Lately this seems to be the case with both businesses as well as consumers.

DMca (4, Insightful)

Manhigh (148034) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046358)

I wasnt aware that toners were digital media.

Re:DMca (5, Informative)

Quila (201335) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046378)

The chips attached to the cartridges are, and they authenticate with the printer to allow the cartridge to be used.

Re:DMca (5, Insightful)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046401)

It would also seem that since you are talking about allowing other cartridges to be used in the printer, you are definitely talking interoperability. This would fall under the DMCA exclusion anyway. (IANAL and all that)

We know that (4, Insightful)

Quila (201335) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046498)

We also know Lexmark is only using their interpretation of the DMCA to stifle competition. If nothing else, they figure they can bury the competition with legal bills.

Re:We know that (1)

frp001 (227227) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046546)

Why? Isn't this the new way to handle economic competitivity worldwide nowadays?
Companies claim that having their IP used elsewhere stops innovation; in truth when users will be locked up into your strategy no company will have to bother innovating anymore.

Not the toner, but the chips. (2)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046382)

I wasnt aware that toners were digital media.

The chips in the cartridges that mean they're 'authentic' Lexmark toner are digital though.

Think about it.. what these rip-off toner companies are doing is equivalent to cracking smartcards on subscription digital TV.

Re:Not the toner, but the chips. (4, Insightful)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046422)

Think about it.. what these rip-off toner companies are doing is equivalent to cracking smartcards on subscription digital TV.
Nonsense! Accessing cable TV broadcasts that you haven't paid for is totally unrelated to putting new ink cartridges in your printer! You own the printer, you own (a copy of) the software that authenticates cartridges, so you can make that copy of the software do anything you want it to, so long as you aren't violating copyright by distributing or copying the software. It's exactly the same situation as if General Motors made their cars only to use GM-brand Motion Lotion (TM), and stopped anyone else making compatible fuel.

Re:Not the toner, but the chips. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046506)

But surely if you're going to use that analogy, the toner is equivalent to the digital media (i.e. digital TV shows), and the chips are equivalent to the smartcards.

Re:Not the toner, but the chips. (3, Insightful)

frp001 (227227) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046564)

So that means that if I buy a bottle of cola, I cannot fill it with water after?

Re:Not the toner, but the chips. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046600)

No. I'm not agreeing with his point, just getting the analogy straight.

Of course, if the shape of liquid in a bottle is considered copyrightable, and the liquid is digital media, then you can't. Since neither of these are the case, you can.

Thanks Lexmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046397)

I was looking at the Lexmark X83/X85 and the HP 2110 multifunction printers for the wife.

I'll snag the HP this pm from OfficeMax, they've got a $40 rebate on it anyway.

Sheeeeeeeeesh, is Lexmark stupid, or what?

Re:DMca (2)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046399)

I wasnt aware that toners were digital media.

RTFA. :-)

"Lexmark claims that Static Control violated the DMCA by selling its Smartek chips to companies that refill toner cartridges and undercut Lexmark's prices."

So I suppose the chips had code to refill the cartridges which in turn pissed off Lexmark.

Re:DMca (1)

aled (228417) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046569)

Now thats a technical breakthrough! refilling the printer with code instead of dirty, real world toner. Could they refill my pocket with digital money?

Re:DMca (2, Insightful)

RCO (597148) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046487)

I do believe anything that uses a digital chip (as opposed to analog circuitry) in it will fall under this law. I really don't think the government had a clue about the can of worM$ they were opening. And obviously M$ wasn't the only worm in the can.

Three cheers for the American government for bringing this three ring circus to town;)

Hang on a minute... (5, Interesting)

wackybrit (321117) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046366)

Seems as though Lexmark has decided it wants all the pie when it comes to the printing world

Isn't this fair? I don't know if it's a fair lawsuit under the DMCA, but it's fair for Lexmark to try and protect their interests. Lexmark is not a printer monopoly, and it certainly does not have 'all the pie' in the printing world.

The reason Lexmark is pissed is because it sells its printers as a loss leader, and then makes money on the ink cartridges.

This is not new. All console makers do the same thing. The XBox costs more than $149 to make, but MS sells them as loss leaders so they can make money on the games. Sony does the same. Nintendo does the same.

Yet most people would agree that hacking/chipping consoles so you can play stolen games is illegal, even if you don't think it's unethical.

What's different about the printer industry? They're just trying to make their money in the best way possible. After all, it's consumers who have forced them to offer printers as loss leaders rather than having expensive printers and cheap ink.

Re:Hang on a minute... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046393)

Duh....

Copied games = ILLEGAL therefore they would have a right to sue anyone selling them under criminal law.

Third Party toner = LEGAL

By your example a toilet roll holder manufacturer could take action against anyone else making toilet roll.

Re:Hang on a minute... (2, Insightful)

csteinle (68146) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046396)

Yet most people would agree that hacking/chipping consoles so you can play stolen games is illegal, even if you don't think it's unethical.

But how about hacking/chipping your console to play unlicensed - but not illegally copied - games, which is more equivilent to what we have here?

Re:Hang on a minute... (0)

lederhosen (612610) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046411)

No, it is not fair.

Sell the printer for what it is worth.

Do you want to buy a car and then not be able to
buy parts from other companies???

Re:Hang on a minute... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046423)

Perhaps it's the business model that's at fault here.

Re:Hang on a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046430)

Nintendo does the same

Not true [ferrago.co.uk]

Re:Hang on a minute... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046448)

"Isn't this fair?"

No it isn't, here's why:
1. It stiffles competetion and takes away basic freedom from the consumer (you can't buy part 1 from manufacturer A and part 2 from manufacturer B).
2. It produces huge amount unnecessary waste.
3. It misleads customers and it makes almost impossible to compare costs of printers during their lifetime.

Luckily, starting from 2006 this kind of practice will be illegal in EU and manufacturers will use standard cartiges.

"The reason Lexmark is pissed is because it sells its printers as a loss leader, and then makes money on the ink cartridges."

That's not an excuse, nobody is forcing Lexmark or anybody else to sell things at loss.

"This is not new. All console makers do the same thing. The XBox costs more than $149 to make, but MS sells them as loss leaders so they can make money on the games. Sony does the same. Nintendo does the same."

Sony and Nintendo doesn't sell their consoles at loss. But price dumping should be illegal also in console market.

"What's different about the printer industry? They're just trying to make their money in the best way possible. After all, it's consumers who have forced them to offer printers as loss leaders rather than having expensive printers and cheap ink."

LOL, "consumers forced"? You propably think that it's the consumers who forced MS to intergrate IE into Windows...

Re:Hang on a minute... (5, Insightful)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046455)

So would it be fair for Ford to require you to purchase Ford-brand tires and the only thing that distiguishes Ford-brand tires from regular tires is a chip that "authenticates" the tires as being Ford. Also, these tires are $3000 for a change of four. Better yet, only being able to buy engine parts that were only Ford-brand and the only that thing distiguishes them is an authetication chip. This is why this law needs to die a bloody death.

HT

Re:Hang on a minute... (3, Insightful)

bsmoor01 (150458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046534)

Yeah, it's fair if you got the car for $1000.

What I think may end up happening is that the printer companies will find that the public has a distaste for this sort of profit structure and change their ways. The end result? Printer prices will rise, and supply prices will drop. There is an equilibrium that can be reached by making a profit off of supplies and hardware.

In a few years, I guarantee people start complaining that printers are too expensive. "They used to be cheap!" Tough, you can't have it both ways. Printing costs money.

Re:Hang on a minute... (5, Insightful)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046570)

So, let printer prices rise. Then we can have some nice competition among printer makers, as opposed to this mess.

And if people complain? Let them complain. At least the prices they'll deal with will be somewhat more honest, as will the business practices that involve dealing with the customer and the market, not the courts.

no.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046591)

I would rather pay $450 dollars for a printer that uses $5 ink refills that last months than $45 dollars for a printer that uses $38 refills that last weeks.

I care about lexmark's economy about as much as they care about mine. I won't bend buy a printer that will suck my wallet dry.

Prices... (1)

RenatoRam (446720) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046461)

IANAL, but what you are talking about sunds very
much like "dumping": sell your product for _less_
than it costs to kill the competition.
(example Nintendo sold NES this way, at least in western countries)

Now: isn't dumping actually illegal in most countries?

Re:Prices... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046514)

Then sue Gilette, because they sell their razors at a loss, but use their blades to make money.

Re:Prices... (1)

Angry White Guy (521337) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046571)

But you can put a different blade on the Mach 3 without the razor ceasing to work.

Also, does it say anywhere on the Lexmark packaging that the printer will only operate with Lexmark ink cartridges by design?

Re:Hang on a minute... (4, Interesting)

curtisk (191737) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046468)

The reason Lexmark is pissed is because it sells its printers as a loss leader, and then makes money on the ink cartridges.

This is not new. All console makers do the same thing. The XBox costs more than $149 to make, but MS sells them as loss leaders so they can make money on the games. Sony does the same. Nintendo does the same.

Thats their choice as a manufacturer to set up their profit structure that way. If it doesn't work out for them, tough for them. Try a different structure!
Holy shit, I'm gonna sell HDTVs, at a major loss to my company, then if you try to watch any other channel that doesn't generate Ad revenue for my company (so I can re-coup my losses, not your fault, and you OWN the TV and all) I'm gonna kick and scream and sue,SUE,SUE! :p
Just because Sony,Nintendo,MS do it to, doesn't make it a sound model for everyone

Re:Hang on a minute... (3, Insightful)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046500)

The reason Lexmark is pissed is because it sells its printers as a loss leader, and then makes money on the ink cartridges.

Fine. Let them be pissed, it's not my problem.

This is not new. All console makers do the same thing. The XBox costs more than $149 to make, but MS sells them as loss leaders so they can make money on the games. Sony does the same. Nintendo does the same.

This wouldn't be the same Nintendo that got recently bitchslapped by the EU for price fixing by any chance?

Yet most people would agree that hacking/chipping consoles so you can play stolen games is illegal, even if you don't think it's unethical.

A lot of people think chipping DVDs is in some way illegal or immoral. It doesn't make it so.

If printer manufacturers want to make money on services, they can do it honestly like mobile phone telcos do by getting me to sign a contract. Otherwise they can take a hike.

Re:Hang on a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046557)

A lot of people think chipping DVDs is in some way illegal or immoral. It doesn't make it so.

Actually, considering that the concept of morality arose only through the creation of societies and communities, and is entirely dependent on the thoughts of a majority of people, a lot of people thinking that chipping DVDs is immoral actually does make it immmoral, at least in a societal sense.

I just have to say... (5, Interesting)

Marx_Mrvelous (532372) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046503)

First of all, MS is the *only* console vender that loses money on its consoles: both Nintendo and Sony made profit for each unit sold.

Secondly, if Lexmark let consumers know that only their toner cartridges worked with Lexmark printers, it wouldn't be such a big deal. But they don't. In fact, I'd bet they even tried to supress the lawsuit beacuse of the bad publicity it causes them.
Finally, consumers haven't forced them to do anything. They chose their own business model, and now they have to lay in it.

Re:Hang on a minute... (5, Insightful)

tigress (48157) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046504)

"Hacking/chipping" a console is not (should not be) illegal. If I own the hardware, I should have the right to do what I want with it. If I want to install third party equipment in my console, car, printer or llama, that's my choice, not the choice of the manufacturer.

Making and distributing pirate copies of software (read: console games) is illegal though. If I run an illegal copy in my (legally) modified console, I'm committing a crime. I'm not disputing that. However, it's important to know where the crime lies; not in modifying your equipment, it's in using an illegal copy.

Similarily, using and making third party ink cartridges is not (should not be) illegal. The fact that the ink cartridge may identify itself as something it's not is should not prevent it from being used. If that was the case, consider the vast majority of webbrowsers, what do they identify themselves as?

I for one think it's a Good Thing(tm) that this is being tried in a court of law. Hopefully, reason will win and ensure that we'll be able to use whatever ink cartridge we want in our printers, just as we can use any brand of tires on our cars, any kind of toast in our toasters or any kind of software on our Microsoft Windows based computers.

Oh, it's the consumer's fault... (2)

Confused (34234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046511)


wackybrit wrote:

They're just trying to make their money in the best way possible. After all, it's consumers who have forced them to offer printers as loss leaders rather than having expensive printers and cheap ink.



Seems that the idea of giving away the printers and hoping to recover the costs with toner isn't so clever after all.

Seems that those people inventing that scheme weren't so clever after all.

Seems that this isn't the best possible way to make money with printers after all.

And instead of fixing the problem of selling at a loss, Lexus added some copy^H^H^H^H refill-protection to their cartriges. And, as with most copy protection schemes, they get broken sooner or later. What a big surprise!

By the way, are those the same chips that tell you that the toner cartrige needs to be changed, because the alotted number of pages has already been printed, even if the print quality is still perfectly fine and there is still enough toner left in the cartrige?

And are those the same cartriges, where half the printer is thrown away only because the toner runs out?

Re:Hang on a minute... (5, Insightful)

micromoog (206608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046545)

Your comparison between printer cartridges and XBox titles is flawed because
  • XBox games are software. The licensing involved is for the intellectual property on the disc.
  • A printer cartridge is a can of ink with some circuitry on it. It is well understood and many manufacturers are capable and legally allowed to make it (i.e. there is no intellectual property involved). Lexmark has essentially added unnecessary intellectual property to the can of ink, and now claims that it is being violated (even though it is not the actual product).
This is a clear case of Lexmark abusing this law for competitive gain. We will see much much more of this until the law is changed.

Re:Hang on a minute... (1)

VictimlessChris (562438) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046559)

After all, it's consumers who have forced them to offer printers as loss leaders rather than having expensive printers and cheap ink.

Sounds more to me like it was a corporate decision to offer printers at a loss and make up for it in the ink market. Which is more profitable, (1)having a cheap, one time purchase (printer) that lasts a few years and expensive ink cartridges that have to be replaced frequently, or (2) having an expensive, one time purchase and selling cheap ink for a few years? Personally, option (1) sounds like the one that draws the most money, while option (2) sounds like the more consumer friendly choice.

Yet most people would agree that hacking/chipping consoles so you can play stolen games is illegal, even if you don't think it's unethical.

Sure, playing stolen games is illegal, but that isn't the only reason people chip their consoles. Just because I buy a lot of CD-Rs doesn't mean I'm running a massive pirate ring. A mod chip allows you other options, like running software unintended to be run, such as a version of Linux, or the like. Just because I purchased a game console DOES NOT mean that I am required to purchase games to play on it if I am more interested in running my own software. It is my console, and I can use it however I choose.

Re:Hang on a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046561)

That is akin to saying that you can only fill your Ford car with petrol from a Ford affiliated garage - Petrol from unauthorised vendors may seriously damage your engine and will void your warranty.

There is nothing remarkably different in the quality between the ink in a Lexmark cartridge and ink in a chipped cartridge. The only danger is a) damaging your printer by using "lower quality" consumables (surely B.S., Ive never had a problem with cheap epson carts) and b) having no recourse due to an overly restrictive Warranty policy.

Lexmark wants to control the market in consumables for its printers, and the European Union believe this to be anti-competitive. It is.

Re:Hang on a minute... (5, Insightful)

zmooc (33175) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046565)

The reason Lexmark is pissed is because it sells its printers as a loss leader, and then makes money on the ink cartridges.

Which is ofcourse not fair at all. Those printing a lot will pay way too much compared to those using a mere one cartridge a year. Lexmark wants to have a monopoly in Lexmark print cartridges. And it's using the free-market-crippling DMCA to get there (if it doesn't already have that monopoly). The choice to sell printers as a loss leader, is theirs. So are the consequences. The error you are making is assuming that Lexmark doesn't have a monopoly while it does (or at least will if they win) have a Lexmark Printer Cartridge monopoly. That market may be smaller, but it's still a small-scale-monopoly. What these guys are doing is using the DMCA in the same way as a patent can be used, except there's no way to get a patent on their ink-cartridges probably.

The only fair way to make this market-model work is if they just don't sell the printers but provide them under a contract that also forces you to use only their cartridges. That's the right way; it forces Lexmark to be clear about their demands (only use their cartridges), the customer knows what is going on (it does not now) and there's no need to use the DMCA or whatever.

Re:Hang on a minute... (3, Informative)

aufait (45237) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046566)

The reason Lexmark is pissed is because it sells its printers as a loss leader, and then makes money on the ink cartridges.

Maybe its time for them to change their business model. Lexmark may not have a monopoly in the printer market; but, it sure wants one in the "ink Cartridges for the Lexmark printer" market. They are trying to use copyright law, which gives them a government enforced monopoly on the software they write,to extand that monopoly into the cartridge replacement market.

Yet most people would agree that hacking/chipping consoles so you can play stolen games is illegal, even if you don't think it's unethical.

I don't think the console makers are worried about priated games directly. They are concerned about making sure the game developer pays them a cut of every game they sell. If mod chips become commonplace, game developers can sell games without paying the console maker its royalty.

Re:Hang on a minute... (5, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046567)

Hell yes this is a monopoly! But monopoly is a beast with may faces. The situation of being the only supplyer to a market is only one form of monopoly. One can create a virtual monopoly on a free market with numerous competitors. In this case one suckers people into buing a certain product, in this case Lexmark printers and then suck the consumers dry by forcing them to use only Lexmark cartridges. You compare this to the business practices of Nintendo, PS2 and the rest of that lot and say it is unfair to Lexmark to forbid them to do the same. But you are ignoring the lager issue of how fair/moral the whole business model of creating a virtual monopoly is to begin with.

I for one have never used a game console and I never will. Why you ask? Because on the game console market, once I have committed myself to a certain brand of console, there either is only one source for software or the soruces of software are controlled by one party. Ergo no competition. If I buy a PS2 I am limited to one source and that source is the only one selling PS2 games and can therefore control the price at will, a monopoly. I will also never buy a printer from somebody who forces me to use only brand products. And I will continue to do so until there is no manufacturer left who allows third party manufacturers to clone his cartridges. I would rather pay more for the printer and get the cartridges cheaper because it is guaranteed to cost me less money in the long run.

Nobody obligates me, the consumer, to get warm fuzzy feeling about some corporation wanting to max its profits by lashing up artificial trade barriers. I refuse to live in a marketplace where there are serveral "theoretical competitors" but in reality I am simply choosing which virtual monopoly I am going to be fleeced by. There is a lot to be said for free trade, but free trade ends where the holy quest to create artificial trade barriers begins!

Re:Hang on a minute... (1)

lynx_user_abroad (323975) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046568)

Yet most people would agree that hacking/chipping consoles so you can play stolen games is illegal, even if you don't think it's unethical.

If I play a stolen game while completely avoiding hacking/chipping the console, have I done something illegal? Unethical?

If I hack/chip the console while completely avoiding playing any stolen games, have I done something illegal? Unethical?

So while you may be correct about most people thinking the combination of the two acts is wrong, it says nothing about each act individually.

Too bad (3, Interesting)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046367)

It's really sad to hear, because Lexmark's history of supplying Linux drivers is pretty long [lexmark.com]
Now I have to balance the ethics of supporting them.

Re:Too bad (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046386)

Sorry, better link here [lexmark.com]

Re:Too bad (2, Insightful)

YDdraig (302234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046459)

It is disappointing.

For some time now Lexmark has been my first choice for printers and the one I recomend to friends/clients. I won't support a company who tries to pull this sort of stunt though.

Re:Too bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046507)

It's really sad to hear, because Lexmark's history of supplying Linux drivers is pretty long

Pity they didn't have a driver for the printer I bought for NT then.

Re:Too bad (1)

six809 (1961) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046529)

OTOH, my parents bought an i3 (because it was cheap - *sigh*) and wrote to Lexmark asking about Linux drivers (or even just a PPD file) and was told it would not be supported. They seemed quite final on the subject.

Another reason (2)

TopShaman (136172) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046369)

Herein lies another reason for me to continue to buy HP printers and to recommend them to many others. I for one will counter Lexmarks suit with my voice!

Re:right on (0)

chemlab1 (256181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046408)

HP printers are the shizniddle.

Re:Another reason (1)

Gildenstern (62439) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046586)

I do believe that HP is doing the same thing with there toners.

Cindy Cohn... (2)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046373)

I thought I had heard the name before, and it turned out she was same (and sane) person that said:

"Bnetd developers engaged in legal reverse engineering without circumvention or any illegal activity."

The way to stop this... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046379)

just don't buy Lexmark any more. This is what I did - tossed my old crappy, slow, EXPENSIVE to operate printer and got a high-quality Cannon. With seperate ink carts. In the two months I've had it, just now to the point where I'm using up the black (the rest look to have another two months!), and the replacement cart is $2.95 - big whoop. Compare to $39.95 if on sale from Lexmark.

EU wants it both ways... (5, Insightful)

slipgun (316092) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046387)

The European Union is taking action against the practice of embedding chips in printer cartridges which make it difficult for third parties to sell refills.

While passing its own version of the DMCA, ironically enough.

Re:EU wants it both ways... (1, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046491)

Europeans have long wanted to both have and eat their cake. Witness: socialized medicine, socialized health care, socialized industry, socialized life. Now that the birth rate is dropping dramatically in Western Europe, all the 50 somethings are in a panic because their womb-to-tomb statist safety net isn't there - nobody's working to pay the bills that the last generation racked up.
Natural consequences of societies which embrace skepticism, mysticism and irrationalism as philosophies. Causality? Who needs it! Paraphrasing Kant: They have set aside reason in order to make room for faith.
Yeah, I know, -1 Troll, -1 Flamebait. That doesn't change the truth of this post though, and I have karma to burn.

Re:EU wants it both ways... (1)

OAB (136061) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046522)

Natural consequences of societies which embrace skepticism, mysticism and irrationalism as philosophies. Causality? Who needs it!

Not to disagree with you main point, but the US tends to embrace mysticism rather more than the EU.

Re:EU wants it both ways... (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046575)

Agreed, the original poster is an idiot.

And much as I dislike a lot of what the EU get up to (like standardising the size/shape of bananas!) this ban on ink cartridge lock-ins sounds completely sensible, not only from a free market perspective but an environmental one too. The latter is something that seems well behind on the US Governments list of priorities...

In other news (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046390)

My trusty old epson stylus color 640 still works perfectly, and in Linux too.

On what planet do these bozos live ?!? (2)

hysterion (231229) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046391)

This one really takes the cake.

How on earth can they believe that such silliness will not backfire?

i agree (-1, Troll)

chemlab1 (256181) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046392)

I hate those damn refurb toners, I am glad that Lexmark is sueing. I have had lots of trouble with them in the past.

Re:i agree (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046484)

Anyone is free to sell a crappy product, that's what the free market is all about. They will survive if their product is worth the money ($5 for a crappy toner cart may be better then $30 for a quality one to some people).

What are they protecting? (1)

dauvis (631380) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046403)

I thought the DMCA was for circumvention of protected copyright works. From what I read, all these chips do is transmit a code that the printer requires. Doesn't seem like anything is being protected. On a side note, wasn't there a console game manufacturer that tried something similar and lost? How is this different?

This has very serious implications. (5, Insightful)

altgrr (593057) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046404)

If the court ruling goes in favour of Lexmark, rather than in favour of common sense (you can put whatever toner you like in your printer, right? It's your printer after all), then the extension of the ruling to other cases is inevitable.

This means that there is the potential for manufacturers of other products that have consumables associated with them (your car, say) to put methods (a funny-shaped fuel filler, say) in to ensure that you can only use their consumables (fuel), and that a circumvention device (plastic funnel) so that you can use other consumables (fuel) will be ruled illegal.

Re:This has very serious implications. (2)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046443)

That doesn't involve software, and they are playing with words by saying that the fake chips circumvent a mechanism that protects access to their copyright material, to wit the toner authentication code. The flaw in their theory, IMO, is that it does not provide access to their IP. It doesn't cause the code to be printed out or loaded up the cable into the PC, all it does is cause it to execute an operation that is necessary to the functioning of the printer. It accesses the functionality, not the copyright material. This should be a no-brainer in court.

Re:This has very serious implications. (1)

canavan (14778) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046482)

It does provide access by executing the parts of the "toner access control program" that were ment only to be used with authentic lexmark toner. DeCSS isn't used to print out DVDs... Do the same with an electronically controlled valve instead of the plastic funnel, and you get your fuel monopoly, using DMCA on a car...

Re:This has very serious implications. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046447)

This means that there is the potential for manufacturers of other products that have consumables associated with them (your car, say) to put methods (a funny-shaped fuel filler, say) in to ensure that you can only use their consumables (fuel), and that a circumvention device (plastic funnel) so that you can use other consumables (fuel) will be ruled illegal.

Is there a law to stop them from doing this now?? The only thing that would stop GM from making "funny shaped fuel fillers" is the fact that people would laugh at them and stop buying GM cars because you can't fill them at normal gas stations. It's the same reason nobody buys electric or natural gas cars. The only people they're hurting would be themselves. With Lexmark though, they get a large amount of their business from selling toner. The better analogy would be GM being in the gas business and you have to fill your GM car with GM gas or you void your warranty (or worse, it just doesn't work in the car). Then along comes someone making third party gas that works in the GM and GM suing.

Re:This has very serious implications. (4, Insightful)

Hangtime (19526) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046479)

This is actually a good case and I hope a lot of the groups like the EFF jump into it for this reason. This is much easier case to frame for a judge then a "mod" chip and running games on a system. This is something a judge can get their head around and see "Hmmm, does this law make sense applied in this situation." Common sense dictates that it doesn't and this is such an incredibly powerful case to demonstrate what is so bad about this law.

Who cares (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046412)

Lexmark are shit anyway, Ive always gone with Epson.

No really (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046415)

Go fuck yourself moderator!

Terms of Agreement? (4, Insightful)

Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046416)

Is there any kind of EULA to which a user must agree before using the printer?
Something such as "By using this printer I agree to only use Lexmark toner etc etc..."?
That's the only way Lexmark's attitude would make sense.
I think unless you prohibit certain potentially anti-DMCA activities at the outset, it's pretty cheesy to go after people later....

Re:Terms of Agreement? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046463)

That kind of EULA would be worthless. Manufacturer of the hammer cannot dictate what kind of nails customer must use.

Re:Terms of Agreement? (1)

Giant Ape Skeleton (638834) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046497)

Manufacturer of the hammer cannot dictate what kind of nails customer must use.
I agree -- but he *can* design the hammer to be incompatible with any but his own nails, and then punish any modification of the hammer to work with non-approved nails.....at least, if my understanding of this crazy thing is correct...

Re:Terms of Agreement? (2, Interesting)

YDdraig (302234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046515)

The Lexmark warranty mentions that...

Service does not include repair of failures caused by: misuse, neglect, accident, modification, operation outside the specified operating environment, improper maintenance by the Customer , failure caused by service of the printer by non-authorized servicers, or
failure caused by a product, including supply products, for which Lexmark is not responsible.


(My italics)

So if they decided that a copycat cartridge stuffed up your printer they may try to wriggle out of fixing it.

Re:Terms of Agreement? (5, Interesting)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046527)

Believe it or not, yes!

I bought a Lexmark a few months ago, a E-320 (it's at home, I may have the last digit wrong, it's basically a low-end sub-$300 laser.) There was a seal on the supplied cartridge itself, which was in the printer but not installed (if that makes sense) with a note to the affect that if I broke the seal I would be agreeing to return the cartridge in the supplied box once I'd finished with it. Apparently Lexmark have two types of toner cartridge, one for users to keep and one "recyclable" that's "owned by Lexmark" that's cheaper. The one bundled with the printer is the latter.

As Lexmark hadn't actually supplied a box, I took the EULA to be nonsense and broke it anyway. If anyone at Lexmark reading this would like to contact me and send me a toner cartridge box as required per your licence, I'll happily return this 50c bit of plastic once I'm done with it. I don't do that much printing, so this'll be in a few years I guess, but you can wait that long can't you? ;-)

Re:Terms of Agreement? (2, Informative)

bsmoor01 (150458) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046558)

You got a prebate cartridge somehow. That was a goof by Lexmark.

In case anyone else is wondering, Lexmark has a 'prebate' program where you can buy cartridges cheaper than 'non-prebate' cartridges. When you buy one of these, you have to agree to mail the cartridge back. When we would order them for the computer lab I worked in, they always came with a UPS label to mail it back. I'm pretty sure a printer is supposed to come with a regular cartridge.

Re:Terms of Agreement? (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046578)

The word "prebate" does sound familiar. I do believe it used the word on the printer box, so I don't think Lexmark goofed other than in not actually supplying the means to return the cartridge.

It certainly was a little wierd to have to agree to an EULA for a piece of hardware. Microsoftitus seems to be infectious...

Waste (2)

curtisk (191737) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046418)

I for one am glad that I'm not a Kentucky citizen, ie. my taxes are being spent in part to entertain this trial.
Under section 1201 of the DMCA, it is generally unlawful to circumvent technology that restricts access to a copyrighted work.
Generally unlawful? Thats what they're hoping will win them this case? A broad statement...how general is the unlawfullness? LOL
the company claims the Smartek chip mimics the authentication sequence used by Lexmark chips
Is this something the consumer is aware of when purchasing the printer? That only Lexmark© carts will be "allowed"? Its amazing what the technology market can get away with as far as trying to control what the consumer, who owns the product, can do "lawfully" with it. This shiznit is out of control.

Oh, but they are (2, Informative)

mericet (550554) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046464)

I for one am glad that I'm not a Kentucky citizen, ie. my taxes are being spent in part to entertain this trial.

It is a federal court after all.

Re:Oh, but they are (2)

curtisk (191737) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046478)

true enough! Morning caffeine not working yet.. :)

wow...talk about scary (2, Funny)

Machine9 (627913) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046425)

heh, if they keep going like this you'll be unable to have children, because under the DCMA you'll be infringing upon the rights your partner has to her DNA...

Is this how the internet and all that was once free will come to it's end?

isn't there a master document we can cast into a mount doom to stop the madness?

and people wonder why I prefer fiction to reality, in fiction, you might actually win!

WTF? (4, Interesting)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046427)

Didn't HP get sued for attempting to corner the market on toner sales? I'm pretty sure they were sued for selling 1/2 empty cartridges with their printers, but could swear they (and others) were sued for having a monopoly on toner cartridges.

I like Lexmark printers, but knowing they're chipping their carts is going to keep me from buying or recommending them to others.

I hope this gets thrown out of court and whoever passed the DMCA into being a law (so loosly written and obvious that it'd be used for the greater good of corporations) get voted out of office.

Trying to prohibit backwards engineering? (5, Interesting)

HighOrbit (631451) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046432)

Lexmark claims that Smartek "mimics the authentication sequence" of Lexmarks printers. That is classic backward engineering by observing the effect and trying to re-create it. If Lexmark succeeds in this, what effect will it have on other backwards engineering efforts? Will Microsoft be able to sue the Samba project because it "mimics the authentication sequence" of NT/Win2000?

So what if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046441)

...I use genuine Lexmark toner in a Lexmark printer to print off screenshots off an Ebook? Surely their toner is part of a circumvention device, as I'm copying a copyrighted work, and it is they who are committing the crime? :)

anticompetitive tool (4, Interesting)

hysterion (231229) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046445)

'We have long said that the DMCA's potential use as an anti-competitive tool has been great,' Cohn said. 'Now we're seeing it happen.'
Actually it's been happening since day one, and was one of the chief reasons for introducing Region Codes and the ensuing DRM arsenal.

Notice how regioning makes it (for practical purposes) impossible for USians to mail-order e.g. European/region 2 movies, TV shows, etc., over the internet, for absolutely no good reason?

Ink running out and wear already limit use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046452)

The ink running out and wear and tear already make us buy new cartridges.
I think it's time to sue them for planned obsolesence and unfair business practice.
Microsoft deserves the same for their crash alot - never fix it OS too, always selling a new version and the consumer thinks it's a fix when it just opens up a zillion new problems.
Corporate america sucks, bankers make it possible through a system of printing money from nothing - frational reserve system, and we all suffer.
Mom and pop businesses are going bye bye every day.
When will people wake up and stop this?
Never mind, go back to your football and beer.

Uh-oh! (2, Funny)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046453)

I guess this'll cut down on all those lexmark .ISO files I keep seeing on Kazaa and eDonkey. Blasted toner cartridge pirates are cutting into Lexmark's profits!

How fscking utterly asinine.

Boycott of sorts?!? (2, Insightful)

jlk_71 (308809) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046486)

Well, if they want to play that way, they may very well see the amount of printers they sell drop like a rock. I think a sort of boycott where nobody buys Lexmark printers would hopefully give them a kick in the butt that the computing public will not stand for moves like this.
They RELY on people to buy their products to stay in business. If nobody does, OOPS, the revenues go down.
Screw 'em I say, SCREW 'EM!!!

Just my .02

EU Reason - reduce waste (2, Troll)

Talisman (39902) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046490)

The EU is doing it primarily so that users can refill the ink/toner cartridges they already own in a effort to decrease the amount of crap going into landfills or incinerators.

They are not, at least on the surface, doing it to discourage competition in the marketplace.

Talisman

Wanna get pissed? [remail.org]

Accuracy in print... (1)

hsmyers (142611) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046508)

Eight movie studios wielded it to force 2600 magazine to delete a DVD-descrambling utility...

I thought the suit was about linking to sites with the code?

--hsm

Toner Gnome problem solved (-1, Offtopic)

computechnica (171054) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046521)

Step 1: Build crap printer

Step 2: Force everyone to buy your toner cartridges

Step 3: PROFIT!!



So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046532)

BOYCOTT LEXMARK...it is so easy and effective. Oh, you say you like being screwed? Let me pound some sand in your ass for a while and then tell me you like Lexmark!

Wow (4, Informative)

finkployd (12902) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046543)

I would be concerned/offended/interested if it were a company that actually made GOOD printers that was doing this :)

Lexmark printers are pretty much junk anyway (and their market share bears me out on that) so this will likely only hurt them.

Now if HP or Epson try to pull this, I'll be alarmed.

Finkployd

Different countries - Different laws (1)

YDdraig (302234) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046552)

It's going to be interesting if this both this case and the EU decision to ban chipped cartidges suceed.

Are Lexmark going to start selling both US and EU versions of their products?

Seems like having to produce two versions of everything and trying to stop people importing the 'wrong' versison for their area is going to work out to a lot more money than the amount lost to a few copycat cartridge makers.

Please, don't buy a Lexmark. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5046556)

NOT A TROLL! This is my own personal experience with Lexmarks.

I've gone through a few Lexmarks in my time, and let me tell you -- they absolutely suck. The most recent one I've used is a total bitch to work with. Slow, requires almost 100 megs of free hard drive space (yeah, that's right, a 100 megs for printer software), has a bunch of custom widgets and window controls... It actually has Skins for gods sake! Printer software with skins? WTF??? It also has .wav's that say things like "You are now printing!" WOW! Really? I'm printing??? Gee, I didn't know that! Thank you strange man, for blaring that over my speakers! I never would have known that otherwise.

Anyway, I guess DMCA business is just another reason to hate Lexmark. Get a Canon, or an Epson, or whatever, but please don't get a Lexmark.

The essential problem . . . (3, Insightful)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046560)

If you use coded digital media somewhere in a product, even if its ridiculous, you can sue competitors that provide things to work with or replace that product.

I'm impressed. I never foresaw the DMCA protecting us from toner.

Apply this to automobiles (3, Insightful)

release7 (545012) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046580)

Imagine if Daimler-Chrylser, Ford, GM and others decided to implant devices in auto parts that communicated with the car's central processing unit. Then imagine your car not starting because you have a third party distributor cap or alternator. There would be an uproar and I'm sure it would be illegal. I think Lexmark thinks it can get away with this because it makes printers, designed to work with computers, and so might conceivably be covered by the DMCA. This is clearly a bunch of bullshit.

Magnuson-Moss applies here. (5, Informative)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 11 years ago | (#5046593)

Remember IBM typewriter ribbons? IBM tried to pull this a long time ago saying 3rd party ribbons would void IBMs warranty. Magnuson-Moss was the result of this.

This warranty act allows for 3rd party consumable replacement parts, and, in the event of a warranty claim, it is the burden of the warranty provider to prove the 3rd party product caused the damage.

-ted
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>