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North Carolina Fights Back Against Lexmark

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the state-poking-at-dmca? dept.

Printer 412

ngrier writes "Seems that at least some aren't sitting idly by, while printer manufacturers try to assert total control. The North Carolina legislature just approved a measure which guarantees the consumer's right to refill ink cartridges. For history of the Lexmark DMCA-related story, involving the company placing copyright-protected code in their printer cartridges in order to prevent competitors from producing compatible cartridges, there are previous Slashdot posts about it here(1), here(2), and here(3)."

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412 comments

FUCK GNAA (-1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457297)

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YOU FAILED IT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457443)

Just like you've failed everything you ever tried!

I like this (5, Interesting)

l810c (551591) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457298)

It's nice to see some common sense come out of a legislature. I like Rep. Joe Hackney's analogy:

I think if Ford Motor Company tried to completely control the aftermarket by trying to control the tire you put on your car by some device, I think this Legislature would act.

There are many areas of the market place that this should be applied.

The price of printers may go up, but we will still have Choice when it comes to ink. Ink is by far the higher cost in the long run.

Let's do it with Apple! (0, Interesting)

axxackall (579006) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457358)

There are many areas of the market place that this should be applied.

First where I'd like to see it is with Apple computers.

Apple must leave the choice of OS to customers - right now you still have to pay for OSX when you are buying Mac even if you plan to use Mac with Linux or BeOS or BSD.

And, of course, Apple must let go their firmware, so that Mac clones will be available again.

Re:Let's do it with Apple! (4, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457393)

And, of course, Apple must let go their firmware, so that Mac clones will be available again.
Once again: Why? How will this benefit Apple? How will it benefit consumers?

Re:Let's do it with Apple! (0, Flamebait)

Natalie's Hot Grits (241348) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457500)

Ever heard of competition? Thought not. Mac troll.
I guess you have never heard of the compaq BIOS reverse engineering that started the whole x86 PC platform. (Yes, started it, because without out this reverse engineering, x86 would have never been remotely popular like it is today)

Re:Let's do it with Apple! (1)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457589)

Ever heard of competition? Thought not. Mac troll.
Hmm, I could have sworn Apple had competition. They must have 100% of the personal computer market then.
I guess you have never heard of the compaq BIOS reverse engineering that started the whole x86 PC platform. (Yes, started it, because without out this reverse engineering, x86 would have never been remotely popular like it is today)
The part I haven't heard about was how successful it was for the originators of the x86PC platform. Maybe you could enlighten me.

Re:Let's do it with Apple! (5, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457430)

If you have a G4 or whatever you DO have a choice of OS. Either an Apple OS or Linux or Darwin.

If you buy a computer from SGI what OS choice do you have when you order it? For the workstation, it don't look like it
http://www.sgi.com/workstations/fuel/sys_softw are. html
http://www.sgi.com/workstations/tezro/sys_so ftware .html
http://www.sgi.com/workstations/octane2/sys _softwa re.html

What Lexmark is doing and what Apple/Sun/SGI are doing is like comparing Apples and Oranges.

Yea, when you buy a G4 you get stuck with OS X and Classic. But Apple doesn't use the DMCA to keep you from installing Linux on the box.

Re:Let's do it with Apple! (1)

reiggin (646111) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457490)

There is no reason on earth for this except to please a small group of insignificant consumers. Quite simply, it is unfair to Apple for the government to FORCE them to do so or for you anyone to suggest this idea. They are not monopolistic nor are they practicing non-competitive practices which harm the consumer. It is their RIGHT to control their product and how it is used. Otherwise, they'd be a dead company. This is America and thus it is a free market society. To tell them to do otherwise with their product is communistic. I'm sick of people who think the government should interfere in all these market situations. If Lexmark wants to act the way they are with regards to the DMCA, they will shoot themselves in the foot -- they don't need the government to pull the trigger. Maybe Apple will do the same. But we really need to lay off the idea of such heavy-handed government intervention in a free market society. Very rarely should we seek government intervention. Standard Oil, Ma' Bell, Microsoft -- these are issues for the feds. I think we, as consumers, can take care of Lexmark just fine, thank you. Why? Because we still have other options. Someone mentioned Epson. Good point! And with regards to Apple? Yeah, you still have plenty of other options to choose from. Don't whine about that when there's gadzooks of other manufacturers of alternate platforms and even enough PPC motherboards to statisfy. You do not have to buy OSX if you want a LinuxPPC box.

Yeah. I'm a quasi-liberterian.

My god you are an idiot (-1, Troll)

jtdubs (61885) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457551)

That's the dumbest crap I've ever heard.

I don't recall anyone telling Lexmark how they are allowed to sell their product. Lexmark printers come with ink cartridges. They are included in the price. They didn't rule that this was illegal, nor should it be illegal. You can't walk into McDonalds and tell them that because they sell milkshakes in their own cups, that they should be able to give you one in a cup you brought with you at a discounted rate because you are saving them a cup. Nor, can you ask for a Big Mac without the bun at a discount. They can do whatever they want. They aren't forcing you to buy it.

Justin Dubs

Re:Let's do it with Apple! (5, Insightful)

perimorph (635149) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457576)

"Apple must leave the choice of OS to customers - right now you still have to pay for OSX when you are buying Mac even if you plan to use Mac with Linux or BeOS or BSD."

Apple doesn't prevent you from using a different OS, though. That's like saying Lexmark shouldn't include an ink cartridge with the printer when you buy it -- if nothing prevents you from changing it, I don't see why it would be a problem.

Re:I like this (0, Redundant)

(54)T-Dub (642521) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457366)

Or you could just not buy a lexmark printer. Let the market descide, don't legislate to death.

On a side note someone gave me a lexmark printer. Stupid thing only works 1/2 the time for no appearent reason.

Re:I like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457446)

>>>"let the market decide"

don't you mean "let sheep decide"

Re:I like this (5, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457494)

That only works until every vendor does the same thing, which they are well on the way to doing.

That free market stuff is only good in a carefully regulated environment. Laissez faire capitalism was successfully debunked in 1929, and many times since then - think Microsoft.

Re:I like this (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457507)

Since when is take it or leave it the only option in a free market? What is so wrong with wanting to be able to buy something and do whatever the hell you want with it? Absent corporate welfare laws like the DMCA, Lexmark will spend money developing more and more complicated technological lockouts while companies like Static Control will profit by selling workarounds. Eventually Lexmark will realize that it is wasting its time and put the effort into making higher quality products that people are willing to pay a little extra for. That is a free market.

Re:I like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457527)

"Stupid thing only works 1/2 the time for no appearent reason"

Wow... you must have gotten a good one!

Long live EPSON!

Re:I like this (2, Insightful)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457529)

Or you could just not buy a lexmark printer. Let the market descide, don't legislate to death.

Sometimes the public doesnt know about the dangers or mistakes of buying a product. The state needs from time to time, step in and regulate the market place. For the people and all that jazz..
-
Corporations steal its copyright infringment, people steal its called piracy.

Excuse me but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457584)

This is an artificial situation created by a novel use of intellectual property. IP is gov't interference for specific purposes of supporting certain business activities, much like a subsidy. When someone gets tricky and uses it for an unanticipated purpose, the default gov't action should be to plug the hole, exactly as if someone found a loophole in subsidy legislation and managed to collect when it wasn't intended for them.

That's not additional gov't interference, that's reduction of gov't interference. In this case, legislating is backing off to let the free market decide.

BTW, yeah. Lexmark printers are trash.

Re:I like this (5, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457588)

Or you could just not buy a lexmark printer. Let the market descide, don't legislate to death.

Yeah, worked so well in curtailing Microsoft's behavior...

Re:I like this (4, Insightful)

Joey7F (307495) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457596)

The market is deciding! It decided that it wants Lexmarks at an unbelievably cheap price and it wants others to supply the ink at a fair rate. Lexmark is USING legislation (dmca) to make generic refills die a quick death.

--Joey

Re:I like this (1)

dotgod (567913) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457387)

Ink is by far the higher cost in the long run.

Very true...my Lexmark z23 cost me about $35...which is also the price for a new black ink cartridge.

Re:I like this (3, Insightful)

captainclever (568610) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457397)

Quite simple, when your Lexmark printer runs out of Ink, throw it in the bin.

Never ever buy from Lexmark again, and encourage others to follow suit.

fp (-1, Offtopic)

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Open Letter to Inkjet Printer Manufacturers (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457308)

Are you an employee of a company that manufacturers inkjet printers? Are you an inkjet owner? Have you been thinking of buying an inkjet printer? If so, listen up.

Now, don't get me wrong. Everyone owning their own printing press is an important leap for free speech, and thus democracy,
but there's one tidbit the printer manufacturers have neglected...

The loss leader model in the printing technology business is a failure.

Sure money is pouring in now, but sooner or later your customers will reel from the pain caused by you ramming their asses.
Let's face it-- previous inkjet owners would rather print at Kinkos than buy a new inkjet printer. If you put yourself in your customers' shoes, it's not hard to see why:

1. Ink cartridges are too expensive. Boy, are they too expensive!
2. The cartridges have a short shelf life before they dry up and jam the print heads.
3. Printing regularly (or otherwise wasting ink) is the only way to combat the ink drying problem.
4. Consumers are reluctant to print anything unless absolutely necessary thanks to the artificially high price of ink.
Thus, inkjet printers are rarely excercised enough to maintain them and rarely work right when they are needed.

Ink cartridges have a short shelf life and no printer manufacturer has been able to solve that problem. Because of that, Gillette's give-away-the-razor-sell-the-blades-at-a-primium model does not adapt well to the printing consumables industry. In
the meantime, raping consumers on ink is a business model that will soon die, because consumers will find that inkjet printers are just not worth it. Joe Sixpack will learn soon enough that the printer bundled "free" with his PC is nothing but a money pit.

Because printers are sold cheaply (presumably at a loss), it's not surprising that printer reliability has gone down the shitter. Manufacturers are cutting corners when producing printers. Inkjet printers today are made out of cheap plastic where metal should be used, resulting in a fragile product likely to jam paper.

Let's face it, until printer manufacturers change their business model, inkjet printers are just not worth the hassle.

Re:Open Letter to Inkjet Printer Manufacturers (1)

rfsayre (255559) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457371)

When people figure this out, boy will Acme Ink Corp.. uh, I mean Hewlett Packard be in trouble.

Re:Open Letter to Inkjet Printer Manufacturers (5, Insightful)

l810c (551591) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457460)

Printers sure have gone downhill. Remember the old HP Laserjet(3,4) workhorses? Those things were stout. Even the new office printers are not the same quality they used to be.

Normally in the computer market, high end features trickle down into comsumer product features, I was hoping for a home printer that could hold a ream of paper and have separate trays for labels and envelopes and plug and play networking. Instead we have the mess that is the printer market today.

Re:Open Letter to Inkjet Printer Manufacturers (1)

mcp33p4n75 (684632) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457644)

I just inherited a Laserjet 3 for free! This thing is a beast! It's been around for 13 years and it's still going strong. Amazing! The only problem is that it only has 1MB of ram and the cartridges are extraordinarily expensive ($150 for a 13 year old 1MB ram cartridge, wtf?). As long as I only print in 150x150 resolution it's fine. It has officially replaced my Lexmark 1100 that had terrible linux support, expensive ink refills, and broken hardware. Props to the old school laserjets!

Re:Open Letter to Inkjet Printer Manufacturers (-1, Troll)

DeathPenguin (449875) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457470)

Why post it as anonymous coward?

Here's an open letter coming straight from the heart (and finger motions) of DeathPenguin: FUCK LEXMARK! And to any other company who uses the DMCA for immoral reasons, fuck you too.

What? (-1, Offtopic)

Meffan (469304) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457315)

Where's the GNAA, come on.

Heads will roll for this, you wait.

Any effect? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457320)

Well consumers have that right already - they are perfectly free to refill their cartridges; of course, it doesn't do them any good, because the chip ignores the new ink. Is this a ban on putting the chips in?

So state law... (4, Insightful)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457326)

Supercedes federal copyright law in North Carolina?

I doubt it, although Lexmark would be a fool to push it.

The Supremacy Clause (2, Interesting)

David Hume (200499) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457401)


Supercedes federal copyright law in North Carolina?


I doubt it, although Lexmark would be a fool to push it.


Good point. Consider the application of Article VI of the Constitution, the Supremacy Clause:

Article VI


All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.


See:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitu ti on.articlevi.html

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/ article06/

As FindLaw explains:

The Operation of the Supremacy Clause


When Congress legislates pursuant to its delegated powers, conflicting state law and policy must yield.7 Although the preemptive effect of federal legislation is best known in areas governed by the commerce clause, the same effect is present, of course, whenever Congress legislates constitutionally. And the operation of the supremacy clause may be seen as well when the authority of Congress is not express but implied.

[Footnote 7] Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1, 210 -211 (1824). See, e.g., Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 112 S.Ct. 2608 (1992); Morales v. TWA, 112 S.Ct. 2031 (1992); Maryland v. Lousiana, 451 U.S. 725, 746 (1981); Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525 (1977).


See http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/constitution/article 06/02.html#4

Re:So state law... (1, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457408)

The Carolina's (and the Southern part of the US in general) tend to ignore Federal law in preference to State Law. Remember the Civil War in 1861? The South has always thought that the Federal Gov't should leave them alone.

Now, THIS post is +1, Insightful.

Re:So state law... (0, Offtopic)

Talking Goat (645295) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457431)

Sorry for the OT post, but nice Rusted Root sig.

Re:So state law... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457539)

Just a point since it seems your new here. Saying your own post is Insightful, Funny, or Interesting is about the lamest thing you could do on Slashdot. If the mods think your post has merit it will get modded up. No need to pat yourself on the back for all to see.

p.s.

If your really hard up at least post as an A.C. in reply saying it should be modded up, again doing it yourself is bad form.

Re:So state law... (2, Insightful)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457579)

The Carolina's (and the Southern part of the US in general) tend to ignore Federal law in preference to State Law. Remember the Civil War in 1861? The South has always thought that the Federal Gov't should leave them alone.

The 10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

Re:So state law... (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457619)

Neither do the US-Government backed pieces of paper in your pocket create wealth. You will, at some point in your life, learn the difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip.

Re:So state law... (1)

Peyna (14792) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457434)

The constitution says: The Congress shall have power to . . . promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.

I fail to see how preventing others from making ink cartridges promotes the progress of science and useful arts, therefore this should not fall under federal copyright law.

Re:So state law... (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457582)

This isn't superceding federal copyright law. It's an unrelated law to do with consumer protection. Lexmark has no more right to claim federal copyright law overrules it on the grounds it happens to be using a form of ultraproprietry cartridge protected by the DMCA than it does that it sends the printers across the state using the US Postal Service.

The two laws are not in conflict here. Lexmark can sue people for refilling its cartridges, only it's also open to legal action for making them closed in the first place.

Re:So state law... (1)

jchernia (590097) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457626)

I don't think North Carolina law supercedes, but this is a good way for someone to challenge the seemingly unlimited scope of DMCA.

IANAL, but copyright seems to be a pretense for what they want to do, which is have a monopoly on the aftermarket. I believe there was an earlier story about how this was banned in the autoparts industry via anti-trust law.

As a side note, the "printer as loss leader" model seems to have come about because Wall Street likes the "razor and razor blade" model so much. However, as a many have pointed out, the difficult engineering for razors is in the blade, not the holder (look how cheap Bic disposables are). For printers it's the reverse, the machine is a lot more technically differentiated than the ink. Thus the business model does not make sense, but is in place so Wall Street feels comfortable.

doesn't have to (2, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457639)

They don't have to try to force Lexmark to allow others to use their copyrights (which would be an attempt to supersede federal copyright law) -- instead they can simply say that it is illegal for printer manufacturers to make their cartridges such that copyrighted material is necessary for their operation. Then nobody could copy Lexmark's cartridges, but they couldn't legally sell them in the state either. But their copyright would still be protected.

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Does this therefore apply to the whole USA? (3, Interesting)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457335)

Not being an American, but presumably this means that people can mail order cartridges from North Carolina to their home address?

Is there a lot of this in the USA? States which have allowed things that are banned in other states gaining additional 'export' markets? I can think of people travelling to Vegas for one.

Re:Does this therefore apply to the whole USA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457410)

Perhaps somewhat. I live in North Carolina and our cigarette tax is one of the cheapest, because, well, we produce most of the cancer stick out there. It doesn't take long for people to see the feasability of stocking up on cigarettes while they are passing through NC on I-95

If you read the post above this parent... (1)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457417)

You'll see that it probably doesn't even apply to North Carolina

Re:Does this therefore apply to the whole USA? (3, Interesting)

generic-man (33649) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457422)

Is there a lot of this in the USA? States which have allowed things that are banned in other states gaining additional 'export' markets?

Yes. Look at all the border stores that sell fireworks -- it's illegal to take them back home, but the store owners don't care because their state's laws apply.

And in Pennsylvania, until recently all liquor stores were closed on Sunday -- currently 10% of them are open Sundays, as a pilot program. Until that happened, people had to drive to neighboring states to buy hard liquor on a Sunday. This happens in plenty of other states too -- and in some states, it happens at the county level.

And whatever you do, don't ask people in Greenwich, Connecticut what they think about New Yorkers buying Powerball tickets there...

Re:Does this therefore apply to the whole USA? (4, Interesting)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457444)


There is a lot of it. The states are sometimes called the "laboritories" for legislation. The U.S. was set up with way -- a relatively weak and powerless federal government that provides for the common defense, currency, bankruptcy, and a few other things in the "enumerated powers." The states were responsible for all other legislation, except in areas reserved exclusively to the people. Things like freedom of speech, religion and assembly, and the right to bear arms are in that category (see 9th and 10th amendments). These days, a lot of federal mandates are achieved through the federal government's power of taxation, rather than more direct (and unconstitutional) means.

I'm not sure if the U.S. federal government is all that constitutional these days. Before FDR, there was a "presumption of liberty" that favors individuals and the states. Post-FDR, there was a "presumption of constitutionality" which favors congress and the president, and disfavors states and individual citizens. This flies in the face of the 9th and 10th Amendments, which are supposed to be part of the "supreme law of the land" that places limitations on the power of the federal government.

Re:Does this therefore apply to the whole USA? (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457618)

Post-FDR, there was a "presumption of constitutionality" which favors congress and the president, and disfavors states and individual citizens.

It was not really due to FDR. In reality, three things came together in the 20'th century to cause this.

First, the Great Depression needed to be ended and others like it prevented. This required a relatively strong central bank and a variety of social safety nets.

Next came WW II and the Cold War, requiring massive infusions of money and power into the federal government to secure our nation (and others).

Finally, people got tired of the Southern states not giving Americans of African heritage equal protection under the law. The Southern states' recalitrance on this issue put the last nail into any legitimacy states rights arguments might have retained.

All-in-all, it was not the government that expanded their own powers, but "we the people" asking for expanded federal powers to make our lives better. Whether this actually happened and what to do (if anything) about it is an issue that will be left for this century.

Finally... (5, Insightful)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457339)

I'm glad someone's deciding to finally act on this. Ink cartridges should not be costing 20,30,40 dollars. It's ink... the technology has been around for several hundred years. Now granted, printer technology has only been around 20 years, but still, it's not like it's rocket science (or rocket fuel, for that matter :)

Re:Finally... (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457384)

I remember when inkjet printers first came out and the prices/life were reasonable. (Not great, just reasonable.) Then HP more than doubled the price and claimed that they doubled the life. (They didn't.) And the damned ink ran out of the cartridges if you didn't print for a week, which it didn't do before.

If they'd just kept the technology/pricing where it was 13 years ago I'd be happy. I am not happy, fsck them!

Re:Finally... (3, Funny)

ugly_a (687832) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457390)

With ink cartridges surpassing the cost of Dom perignon, the rocket fuel just might be cheaper.

Re:Finally... (1)

Lordfly (590616) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457418)

probably tastes better too :P

Re:Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457624)

Rocket fuel is cheap.

Re:Finally... (1)

Sommelier (243051) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457630)

...Ink cartridges should not be costing 20,30,40 dollars. It's ink... the technology has been around for several hundred years...

The expensive part of a cartridge is not the ink, it is the printhead that shoots the ink out. That printhead is really a multi-layered silcon chip that has been manufactured in a manner similar to microprocessors and DRAM, except that tiny holes (on the order of thousand per inch) have been placed to allow ink to squirt out.

Whether it is Epson's piezo technology or HP's thermal technology, an inkjet cartridge is simply a bag of ink sitting on top of a carefully designed silicon chip. And all of the these printer manufacturers have chip fabs that would make Intel proud.

Now, should it still cost 20,30,40 dollars? Probably not. But there is a little more to it than just ink...


Sommelier

Sniff (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457360)

From the site: [torrentse.cx]

The site torrentse.cx recieved a cease and desist letter during the day of Wednesday, July 16, 2003 for copyright infringement. The entire website has been removed and will not return.


Torrentse, we hardly knew ye.

Not about choice (5, Insightful)

retto (668183) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457363)

Oh please....consumer choice doesn't have anything to do with this. A North Carolina company may get shut down, costing 1,200 jobs, which is why there is soon going to be a law protecting it.

I half expect Kentucky's government to jump in and ban the sale of replacement ink cartridges to protect Kentucky jobs or some other nonsense.

Re:Not about choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457583)

So it's our fault, that these companies can't turn a profit without screwing the people they do bussiness with? I don't think so. Let them die, new jobs with companies that can compete will replace them. Thats the beauty of capitalism, demand will lead to supply.

competition is good for the consumer... (5, Informative)

ravenousbugblatter (682061) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457364)

For anyone wanting cheap ink cartridges here's a weird place you can check out, called lasermonks [lasermonks.com] .

More on topic, if this bill get's signed it'll be interesting to see if similar legislation is passed in other states.

Consumers do have *some* power. (4, Interesting)

Corvaith (538529) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457367)

I always buy my printers based on how much it'll run me to replace the ink afterwards. Not necessarily comparing *just* that, granted, but it's a big factor. These days, my favored brand is generally Epson, and my still-relatively-new Stylus C62 has been good to me. And replacement ink doesn't break the bank.

If people would *think* before they purchase and realize that Lexmark may have decent printer prices but their ink is absolutely ridiculous, such legislation would be largley unnecessary.

Re:Consumers do have *some* power. (1)

rootofevil (188401) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457472)

um dude, lexmark carts are only a few dollars more than epson

Re:Consumers do have *some* power. (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457497)

If people would *think* before they purchase

That doesn't always work. I've still got a perfectly good HP Deskjet 500. When I bought it, the cartridges worked fine, lasted a reasonable time. I haven't been able to use it in years because HP's nu'n'inproved cartridges for it SUCK at a much higher price. I no longer buy printers that tie me a single source for ink/toner.

Re:Consumers do have *some* power. (2, Insightful)

Peyna (14792) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457544)

There are some Lexmark printers currently on the market that can be obtained for less than the ink cartridges can. Thus, it is cheaper to buy a new printer than to buy replacement ink. There HAS to be something wrong with that.

Special exemptions (4, Insightful)

interiot (50685) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457374)

Why not fix the whole DMCA? Or at least codify something stating that DMCA doesn't cover cases where the intent was clearly only anticompetitive?

Toner vs. ink (5, Informative)

My name isn't Tim (684860) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457378)

The big money is in toner not inkjet ink. Toner cartridges are the cartridges that Lexmark put anti-refill technology on. Things like counting the amount of times the drum roles restricting the cartridge to so many pages printed (even if there's still toner left in the cartridge!) there are companies out there that can circumvent this. check out Multilaser [multilaser.com]

Re:Toner vs. ink (1)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457628)

A lot of inkjet printers are using similar technology to insure that refilled cartridges are aren't put back in by keeping track of the serial numbers of cartridges put into the printer.. Also, some printers decide a cartridge or one of the colors is too old after a certain amount of time and refuse to use it even if it is full. They claim this is so that they can ensure quality or something, but its obvious the intent is to keep refilled cartridges from being useful.

No effect! (2, Interesting)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457381)

IANAL. But, I tend to doubt that local law can overide Federal Copyright Law.

Re:No effect! (1)

coats (1068) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457536)

Copyright or no copyright, it can force Lexmark out of selling printers that engage in abusing copyright law in North Carolina at all, even though Lexmark treis to use the connivance of the courts (copyright law does explicitly permit reverse engineering for compatibility, even though the court opinion ignores that fact).

We live in a time and place of judges who ignore and break the law and who break their oaths to uphold the law!

Um, So what? (4, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457399)

The DMCA is federal. No matter how much we wish otherwise, we need to make the change at a federal level.

Even though California or Oregon voters may be in favor of medical marijuana, the federal prohibition on marijuana trumps that.

Repeal DMCA on a federal level, or otherwise the efforts are meaningless.

LK

Re:Um, So what? (3, Insightful)

jonman_d (465049) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457454)

Unfortunatly, you're right. De jure nullification is dead. But de faco nullification is alive and kicking. Take your marijuana example: locally, Californian state officials generally don't enforce the federal marijuana laws. They don't have to. That's why you get federal officers doing most of the drug-busting in California, which costs the federal government a load of cash and time.

And what happens to people in California, when they're found guilty of growing or posessing medical marijuana? They get just one day in jail. [aegis.com]

Now, apply this to ink. Granted, it's a lot different that marijuana laws - but, the state will wind up doing nothing to help the federal government in this matter, which is a big win. And it'll turn a blind-eye to anyone who wants to keep producing 3rd-party ink. Another win.

The idea of nullification now'a'days is just to be such a pain in the ass that the federal government has to eventually rethink their position. Hell, look at all the anti-patriot act bills floating around.

Re:Um, So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457545)

someone give this man some moderation luuuuuv.

Re:Um, So what? (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457617)

Californian state officials generally don't enforce the federal marijuana laws. They don't have to. That's why you get federal officers doing most of the drug-busting in California, which costs the federal government a load of cash and time.

True enough, but in this day and age of "homeland security" the feds have pretty deep pockets. I'm sure we've all seen the TV commercials about how buying a sack of weed will finance worldwide terrorism.

And what happens to people in California, when they're found guilty of growing or posessing medical marijuana? They get just one day in jail.

Until one of two things happen. When the feds need a new whipping boy, medical MJ is an easy target. Or, when the feds tie federal highway money to a state's laws on MJ, a state like CA that is already billions of dollars in debt will have no choice but to comply.

Now, apply this to ink. Granted, it's a lot different that marijuana laws - but, the state will wind up doing nothing to help the federal government in this matter, which is a big win. And it'll turn a blind-eye to anyone who wants to keep producing 3rd-party ink. Another win.

The carrot of federal dollars has a LOT to do with a state's laws. Have you ever wondered why every state in the union has a minimum drinking age of 21? Or why most states has a maximum speed limit of 55 (until about a decade ago)?

As a matter of principle you have to attack federal idiocy at the federal level.

The idea of nullification now'a'days is just to be such a pain in the ass that the federal government has to eventually rethink their position. Hell, look at all the anti-patriot act bills floating around.

If only more of my countrymen would learn about their right to jury nullification, we'd see fewer stupid laws on the books.

LK

Re:Um, So what? (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457608)

Even though California or Oregon voters may be in favor of medical marijuana, the federal prohibition on marijuana trumps that.

This is insightful? It shows ignorance of basic Constitutional issues, such as the 10th Amendment. The Constitution delegates states' power to the Central Gov't. If it ain't delegated explicitly, the power stays with the States. Copyright and patent _were_ delegated. Medicine certainly wasn't.

But then, that means that most of what the Central State does is illegal.

Why not? (5, Interesting)

unixwin (569813) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457411)

If Lexmark (or HP or whoever) makes a product and they say that for warranty purposes you have to use their own crappy ink/toner -- all this upfront, I don't see a big deal why it is a consumer victory as touted. I surely agree that a refill helps in cost cutting, but I have also seen tons of printers (both inkjet and laser) with ink/toner spilt all over their innards just because ppl didn't want use a decent cartridge / toner. This is when they bring their product in for warranty "replacement" since their ink/toner is "smudging", "not printing right" , "sucks" or something of that nature.

As long as they let the consumer know this in advance and you have a choice not to buy this product no one is in trouble are they?

Ofcourse you may not have much choice for buying from someone besides Lexmark & Canon & HP but then thats a DIFFERENT problem .....

Kind of off topic.. (1)

ozzmosis (99513) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457415)

I don't really print a lot of stuff so I just bought my first replacement ink cartage for my printer of 4years about a week ago, And my surprise the ink cartage was 32$!

What makes ink cart rages so high in price? Supply and demand or does it really cost that much to make one.

Aren't there enough laws? (5, Insightful)

Sean80 (567340) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457436)

I don't know about this. Every time I walk down the street I'm sure there are about a thousand laws governing my behaviour, most of which I'm not even aware of.

Is it really the job of government to pass such narrow, precise laws like this? Or, instead, should they be passing higher-level laws which a) most of us can even keep in our heads to start with and b) cover a whole lot of smaller, more specific cases?

Re:Aren't there enough laws? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457488)

For example:
Do as thou wilt, but harm no one.

Thwack! (1)

August_zero (654282) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457521)

Its a bit of a tug-o-war on that. Specific laws like this seem to only chip away at the larger problems. But larger, more general laws leave a lot of room for interpertation and or abuse. (insert the name of your favorite blanket regulations here)

I hear ya though, there has to be a better way than addressing each and every case. Maybe, if law makers would go after the DMCA itself, rather than running around and trying to filter through all of its vast twisting tendrils individualy. This is a good first step though. Maybe more will follow suit, and maybe eventualy, somebody in congress will see the DMCA for what it really is...

Proud North Carolinian (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457440)

Hey I'm prooud that my legislature had the balls to do something like this. Hopefully they will stand up for Red Hat too which is in Raleigh if MS or SCO ever tries to come after them

I wonder... (2, Interesting)

singularity (2031) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457441)

I wonder how many consumers get to the point where they realize that buying a new printer each time is about as effective as trying to buy OEM ink cartridges.

I was in Best Buy yesterday, and they had an inkjet printer on sale for $39. It has been a while since I bought an inkjet cartridge (company supplied laser printer), but I believe it was almost that expensive.

That is the problem with a highly competitive razor/razor-blade model - as soon as the razors get really cheap due to competition, you get the the point where you start competing with the blades in price.

I wonder how long before you see "intro" ink cartridges (with only like 25% filled) being supplied with the original printer?

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457528)

Many of them already do this. It has been standard practice for years with certain laser printer manufacturers. It was happening back in 1994 when I worked at a consumer electronics retail store.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457535)

You already do. Well, maybe not 25%, but ~50-70% full...

With prices on inkjet printers and inkjet cartridges the way they are now, I'm finding it more economical to just buy brand new whole printers and then dumping it for a new one when it jams or runs out of ink (I usually buy when they have a rebate or are under $30).
I've got 5 used inkjet printers in my garage alone.

Re:I wonder... (3, Informative)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457537)

I wonder how long before you see "intro" ink cartridges (with only like 25% filled) being supplied with the original printer?
I think three or four years ago?

Re:I wonder... (1)

swmccracken (106576) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457571)

I wonder how long before you see "intro" ink cartridges (with only like 25% filled) being supplied with the original printer?

HP have been doing this for a while. 20mL cartridges with the printer instead of the normal 40 mL

HP's combo cartridges (1)

RickyRay (73033) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457455)

HP inkjet printers don't have ink cartridges. They instead have cartridges with both print heads and ink. Which is why nobody sells non-HP cartridges; they don't have any legal way to do the print heads. This legislation finally gets past that, but it would have to be a federal law to provide enough scale so anyone could create such a product (unless a group in NC started selling HP-compatible cartridges to the rest of the country, which isn't going to happen).

Hopefully this initiative will get other states to create similar new laws. Obviously the states that manufacture HP and other printers will be the ones who try to block anything.

Re:HP's combo cartridges (3, Interesting)

MsGeek (162936) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457540)

There are people who sell remanufactured HP cartridges. I would never rely on a remanufactured HP color cartridge (they tend to have cross-contaminated ink, where the yellow might be greenish because some cyan leaked in, for example) but I use remanufactured black cartridges happily. They are all over the place. Even Wal*Mart has 'em, from NCR.

What happened to free enterprise? (1)

pinky42 (684567) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457464)

In past, the U.S. has been reluctant to mess around with the free market. What's going on here? Most consumers understand the concept of voting with their pocketbook. If a company screws you around, you stop buying their product. I think the rise of Japanese car makers over American is a demonstration of that principle. Let the market punish Lexmark.

Re:What happened to free enterprise? (0, Insightful)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457622)

Yeah, free markets are nice. The US has killed a lot of people for their free market ideology.

But when it comes to steel, there shall be no fucking free market.

Hypocrites.

Constitution be damned! (1)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457468)

Seems like North Carolina forgot about a little thing in the Constitution called the Supremacy Clause. When the Fed Gov't has been granted the power to legislate in an area, conflicting or inconsistent state laws are preempted by federal laws and are rendered useless.

Simply put, NC can legislate all it wants, but as long as the DMCA (or other conflicting federal statute) is on the books, any laws they write aren't worth the refilled ink they are printed with. (Pardon the bad pun, but I couldn't resist.)

abusing copyright for restraint of trade (5, Interesting)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457485)

What Lexmark is doing seems similar to what Sega did with later versions of their Genesis game console. The Genesis refused to run cartridges that didn't contain the trademarked word "SEGA" at a particular address. Sega apparently even has a patent on that security system (TMSS). When Accolade made cartridges containing that work, Sega sued. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this violated the Lanham act, because Sega deliberately designed the Genesis to require that trademark to be present regardless of the actual manufacturer of the cartridge. Thus Sega was to blame for the abuse of their own trademark.

The Lexmark inkjet cartridge problem is based on abusing copyright rather than trademark, but it seems quite possible that a court would find that because Lexmark has unnecessarily forced their competitors to use their copyright in order to make a compatible cartridge, they are to blame for the resulting copyright infringement.

Re:abusing copyright for restraint of trade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6457642)

or...

some one wouldn't give me thier money when i told them to give it all to me. so then i'm forced to use illegal methods to gain the money, so i kill the person and claim they left me with no other choise.

think about it...

Here we go again (-1, Troll)

CausticWindow (632215) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457516)

I love you America, I love you. You're crazy, but I love you.

DMCA, haha. Well I'll be damned.

Politics is finally always local - NC and Static (2, Interesting)

leoaugust (665240) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457534)

It had to happen in North Carolina, because politics is ultimately about local issues. Static Control Components of Sanford, (close to Raleigh) employs 1200, and might even more if business grows. The Company had enough pull in the State to get the law passed.

And I think this should be a lesson for other issues too ... Abstractions have to come down to one or few test cases where the rubber hits the road .... guess RIAA's thousands points of lawsuits will also meet such a fate from the localities where the lawsuits draw first blood.

I would be foolish enough to say to RIAA "Bring 'em on" but I think that they should expect the unexpected when the finally go for it.

Just a thought (5, Interesting)

wozster (514097) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457573)

Last time I checked Canon doesn't sue 3rd party competitors
& uses a seperate tank for each color (less waste)
& doesn't throw around the DMCA
& tells you to check your ink level by LOOKING AT THE CARTRIDGE (as it should be).

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from my recent research I found Canon to be the most reasonable (yes, I hated them as much as everyone else 5 years ago).

Bill Doesn't Address DMCA Problem (2, Informative)

David Hume (200499) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457600)


It appears the bill doesn't address the DMCA problem. As the article states:

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The state House agreed Tuesday to Senate changes to a bill that would give printer owners the right to refill any printer ink cartridge, voiding
purchase agreements that ban the practice.


(emphasis added) http://www.heraldsun.com/state/6-371743.html

It appears the North Carolina law simply declares void contractual agreements not to refill printer ink cartridges as being against the public policy of the state. While this might be necessary for such refilling to be legal, it does not appear that this law is by itself sufficient to make it legal.

The law does not address the DMCA problem. That is, even if in North Carolina a contractual provision cannot prevent someone from refilling ink cartridges because said provision is void under this North Carolina law, this doesn't prevent a printer manufacturer from filing a DMCA claim against a company that makes the refilling kits.

Under the Supremacy Clause (Article VI of the Constitution), the State of North Carolina may have been unable to address the DMCA issue, and indeed may have recognized that fact. Article VI provides:

Article VI


All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.


See:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitu ti on.articlevi.html

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/ article06/

As FindLaw explains:

The Operation of the Supremacy Clause


When Congress legislates pursuant to its delegated powers, conflicting state law and policy must yield.7 Although the preemptive effect of federal legislation is best known in areas governed by the commerce clause, the same effect is present, of course, whenever Congress legislates constitutionally. And the operation of the supremacy clause may be seen as well when the authority of Congress is not express but implied.

[Footnote 7] Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1, 210 -211 (1824). See, e.g., Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 112 S.Ct. 2608 (1992); Morales v. TWA, 112 S.Ct. 2031 (1992); Maryland v. Lousiana, 451 U.S. 725, 746 (1981); Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525 (1977).


See http://supreme.lp.findlaw.com/constitution/article 06/02.html#4

I have to wonder if this legislation will accomplish anything. I also have to wonder if the legislature knew that it might not accomplish anything when they passed it.

Still a silly fight (3, Informative)

unicorn (8060) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457601)

The thing that continues to be overlooked by the editors here:

The chipped cartridges, are NOT the only option for these printers.

There are 2 sets of cartridges that Lexmark sells. One set, is chipped for single use, and then you're obligated to return the cartridge back to Lexmark for them to refurbish, etc. They call it a "pre-bate" basically they are rebating you for returning the empty, at the time of purchase.

If you want to reuse/refill, etc yourself, then you can buy the non-prebated inks. And then you can just go hog wild.

Caveat Emptor.

The NC legislature got it wrong (2, Insightful)

VORNAN-20 (318139) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457609)

As far as I can tell from reading the description of the law (IANAL), they made it illegal to enforce the ban on cartridge refills, and it probably does conflict with federal law. What they should have done, with no conflict with the federal statute, was to ban the sale of printers with that sort of restriction. AFAIK a state can ban the sale of various items on whatever grounds it feels are correct, and the feds have nothing to say about it.

I worked for a printer manufacturer (2, Interesting)

wift (164108) | more than 10 years ago | (#6457610)

The company I worked for had to pull out of the consumer market(both ink and toner based) because they couldn't keep losing money on lost revenue due to generic cartridges. So now there is less choice in the toner and ink jet printers.

My last ink jet screwed up because of the damn refillable cartridges. My current ink jet works great with name-brand cartridges.

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