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Lexmark's DMCA-Abuse Case Coming To An End

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the pfui-on-them dept.

The Courts 431

Adama writes "Lexmark is dead in the water with their hopes to use the DMCA to force their customers to buy their over-priced toner. Their request for another hearing has been denied. Ars has an especially great write-up on this." (See this earlier story for more background on Lexmark's lock-in attempt.)

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But (-1, Offtopic)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740025)

Is it coming to an end ON MARS?

Hopefully... (5, Insightful)

InsideTheAsylum (836659) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740037)

The DMCA is shot down in the court in other copyright related matters.

I know, I know, downloading music isn't quite like manufacturing your own cartridge for another company's printer, but at least this proves that the DMCA can't shield everything.

now, to try and get tech favor again (3, Insightful)

swschrad (312009) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740040)

have recommended AGAINST lexmark products for several years based on their tin-star-sheriff use of the DMCA to support triple-priced magic dust in their printer supplies.

bet I'm not the only one.

DMCA = no fans.

unfortunately.... (5, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740106)

One would think that something like this will kill Lexmark. ie. If you screw over the customer, then the customers will shun you and you go out of business.

Unfortunately it seems that this thinking is flawed. Customers these days are so used to having their rights, privacy, whatever abused that they expect to be ripped off by the Lexmarks, Microsofts etc of the world.

What happened to the old days when the customer was king and great customer service was the way to do business.

Re:unfortunately.... (2, Funny)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740152)

What happened to the old days when the customer was king and great customer service was the way to do business.

Outsourced to India, with everything else.

Re:unfortunately.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740164)

What happened to the old days when the customer was king and great customer service was the way to do business?

9/11. The best thing that ever happened to big business and governments across the world looking to enforce nasty draconian rules of service.

the razor blade game (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740254)

What's unfortunate about this is Lexmark plays the 'Razor Blade Game', a business model where you "don't make money selling razors - give the razors away. Make your money selling BLADES". Lexmark goes by this business model, selling dirt cheap printers. Not just inkjets - they also make laser printers. And then charge a small fortune for the ink or toner, and give you very little of it in each cart. One salesman I know used to joke that "you get more ink in a ballpoint pen than comes with a Lexmark printer". This business model turns sour when your competition (easily) undercuts your (inflated) ink cart prices. The trajedy of this is the consumer usually realizes they are not getting nearly the deal they thought they were until after they've plunked down the money for the printer and their first few replacement ink carts. At that point you have to ask yourself if it's really worth it to chuck your new printer and go buy another one just to "save a few bucks on ink". But then over time those bucks add up easily to more than the price of a new HP or Epson printer.

I'm quite relieved that the DMCA has not proven to assist them in their consumer-lock-in attempts.

Re:the razor blade game (2, Insightful)

Eric Giguere (42863) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740313)

I suspect a lot of people use Lexmark printers because they came for "free" with their computer systems, and they feel obligated to use it instead of going out and buying a competitor's printer. That's the real loss-leader there, I think...

Eric
JavaScript is NOT Java [ericgiguere.com]

Re:unfortunately.... (5, Interesting)

joeljkp (254783) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740283)

The solution from a consumer perspective, of course, is a PPP (price per page) index. I haven't seen any manufacturers advertising this, though. Are reviewers doing it?

Re:now, to try and get tech favor again (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740142)

It would be interesting to know which has cost Lexmark more:

1. Loss of potential future revenue because competitors will now be able to sell replacement cartridges
2. The cost of paying the lawyers for the case, or
3. Loss of revenue because of the many people recommending against Lexmark printers ever since the lawsuit began (regardless of outcome).

I'm betting #3, and that the effect will persist for years from now. I, like you, will not buy Lexmark printers anymore, and have not for several years. I recommend against them when ever people ask, and I explain to them why. Yes, other printer companies gouge you for printer supplies too, but Lexmark has achieved unusual lows by attempting to apply the DCMA to sustain their anti-competitive desires.

Re:now, to try and get tech favor again (3, Interesting)

erick99 (743982) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740165)

I have used Lexmark products on & off since they first came out (I worked for various dealers/VAR's/etc.) and their products were across-the-board awful. I am not surprised at their actions regarding their toner products. This is not a company interested in quality or customer loyalty. They do, however, have a talent for building junk that borders on admirable.

Re:now, to try and get tech favor again (4, Insightful)

AstroDrabb (534369) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740182)

Actually this is why I personally stopped buying Lexmark. Prior to this, I had three Lexmark printers. When it came time to replace, I went with an HP. Oh, I also picked HP because they have very good Linux support and Lexmark's Linux support sucks or is non-existent.

Sadly, I don't think the average Joe cares about being screwed over. They have been brain-washed to look for rock-bottom prices. If Lexmark can find a way to sell a similar printer to the competitors for $2 - $5 less, most US drone-shoppers will eat it up.

Re:now, to try and get tech favor again (2, Interesting)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740351)

We've got an HP 4MV at work, and I swear, after tens of thousands of (11"x17") prints over 9 years, we *still* can't kill the damn thing. The worst that's happened is it was down 3 days 5 years ago for a drum replacement. To contrast, my company also has a Lanier 36P that has dies basically every 30 days like clockwork. We've given up on using it for production anything & are sticking with HP from now on.

Re:now, to try and get tech favor again (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740237)

I bought a Lexmark printer once. It sucked so badly that I never bought new cartridges for it. That was not an economical purchase even though it was cheap.

Since then I got a Xerox laser printer that worked well for a while, but even with a new toner it wasn't good for quality printing (good for listing and stuff though). After that I got a Samsung ML2250 and have been very happy with it, especially with the fact that they do 1 years on-site repairs if required. Hopefully this printer will keep on going for a few years.

Re:now, to try and get tech favor again (0)

MyDixieWrecked (548719) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740250)

DMCA has got fans... see the following obligatory code snippet as proof.

DMCA.fans = (BigBusiness && Bigwigs);

Re:now, to try and get tech favor again (1)

Urger (817972) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740296)

Actually, many major companies quite like the DMCA, after all, they basicly wrote it.

Re:now, to try and get tech favor again (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740309)

But not on the basis that 1/2 the printers they make are awful? Worst. Inkjet. Ever. Yes, yes, I know we're talking about lasers printers here, but their inkjets are total crap.

Jaysyn

Fucking Hell (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740045)

When will the niggers in the supreme court start listening to the GNAA about the DMCA problem facing them? It is not fair that Michael Sim's cock got into one of our photos by mistake.

Thank God he is not a nigger editor anymore.

NIGGERS FOR LIFE.

This is just LAME. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740051)

Come on, Timmy, where's my daily Roland Piquepaille fix? Huh?

Really though (3, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740058)

They need to come up with a new business model other then "lets sell real cheap printers only 1/4 filled with ink, and lets sell ink for $8000 a gallon!" The free market is showing that the people dont like the business plan so they better adopt a new one. If the government interferes here, then it just imposing another form of regulations on the market which never does it good.

I was with you 'till the end (3, Insightful)

Phil Urich (841393) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740200)

You really can't defend such a blanket statement such as "just imposing another form of regulations on the market...never does it good". The industries in North America are regulated to hell, whether you realize it or not, but curiously, they haven't gone to hell . . . thing about the free market, it often encourages people and companies to benefit in the short term at the expense of others and of the long term (if you don't, you're beaten out by those who do). Just as laws are vital for our society at large to actually function, so too are some degree of regulations on the marketplace (especially nowadays, when it's far more than a traditional marketplace in literal meaning).

Re:I was with you 'till the end (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740374)

I'm not sure exactly why you are filled with rage against the most productive amoung us, but I recommend you get it worked out. One never amounts to anything when one is so angry at life.

Common people: 1, Fritz Hollings: nill. (5, Interesting)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740064)

They'll be back next year, this time with a patented cartridge that plays (copyrighted) music (or sound) as part of its printing process, try duplicating that legally?

Re:Common people: 1, Fritz Hollings: nill. (3, Insightful)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740218)

Heh! It doesn't matter because knock-offs from China are going to get into the supply stream no matter what! So legal or not, cheap replacement cartridges are here to stay. In the end, if Lexmark and others want to win, they need to do it the old fashioned way with a quality product rather than product lock in. I actually gave up on Lexmark a couple of years ago because ink was too expensive and refilled or remanufactured cartridges were too unreliable. I ended up buying an HP color printer (a very loud 2500L) which for me at least is cheaper to operate than the Lexmark it replaced. Granted, I still need to deal with quality issues when I hunt for replacement cartridges, but at least I don't have to do it so often and at what I considered to be too high a cost.

Re:Common people: 1, Fritz Hollings: nill. (2, Funny)

serutan (259622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740266)

If you're gonna keep score, at least stay awake! This was one point. Fritz and his team are still ahead by several runs, and they have the bases pretty well loaded.

Lexmark is not doing well (4, Interesting)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740070)

Expect bad news for Lexmark on all fronts. You may recall that Dell has been using Lexmark printers [eweek.com] for a few years. But now, even Dell is moving away [cnn.com] from them in favor of other printer vendors.

Not sure if it relates back directly to their frivolous use of the DMCA, but it seems like they are being hit from all sides right now.

Re:Lexmark is not doing well (1)

dubbreak (623656) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740329)

Expect bad news for Lexmark on all fronts

when i first read that i thought it said fonts and man did I giggle.

I for one... (-1, Offtopic)

nordee (104555) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740072)

...like to imagine a Beowulf cluster of our new Lexmark chip controlled overlords.

Re:I for one... (0, Redundant)

jmanforever (603829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740112)

"...imagine a Beowulf cluster of our new Lexmark chip controlled overlords."

In Soviet Russia, only old Korean overlords use Beowulf clusters of Lexmark chips.

Re:I for one... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740188)

wow, you guys are fuckin funny

Re:I for one... (2, Funny)

jmanforever (603829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740288)

Redundant? Perhaps. Funny? no, not really, but hey - I'm just re-hashing the same crap I see on /. every day - some of which gets modded funny.

Besides, I'm an engineer - I have no natural sense of humor.

(I've also been working on an NT-4 server all day, which is enough to impair anyone's sense of humor.)

Re:I for one... (1)

thundercatslair (809424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740325)

If I had the points (which I don't because it would seem other people do not share the same sense of humor I happen to have, as such my karma is terrible at best) I would mod this funny.

This is a good decision. (1)

wakejagr (781977) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740080)

Allowing the use of DMCA-backed hacks to achieve a virtual monopoly (even if it is in the area of "ink carts for Lexmark printers) would have been a very bad precedent.

OTOH, it seems the DMCA is here to stay. Unfortunate . . .

Re:This is a good decision. (0, Troll)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740095)

DMCA needs to go away, government regulation = bad.

The Razor Principle all over (5, Interesting)

xiando (770382) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740099)

Gillette has been doing what the whole printer industry is doing with Razors for YEARS: Give the tool away cheap or for free and charge high for the blades. Some printers are actually sold cheaper than the ink cartages who come with the printer. So the ink cartridges who come with printers now only contain one third of the volume, just to make you go buy a new one a week after purchase. This is just not fair. Boycott the whole printer industry AND save the environment at the same time: Print less. Encourage your friends to do the same. Trees are today being cut down ten times the rate they are being reproduced! This is a fact. Yes, if we keep this up then the planet will be free of trees by the end of the century. So teach the evil printer industry a lesion, print less. And No, switching brand will not help, they are all running the ink scam.

Re:The Razor Principle all over (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740145)

Yes, if we keep this up then the planet will be free of trees by the end of the century.

Except that the value of trees will increase very quickly once they become scarce. That's how economics works. There are a number of problems caused by deforestation beyond the easily-dismissed "We'll run out of trees!" argument. Sadly, with rationale like this being associated to essentially good ideas, it's going to be difficult to convince anyone who really needs convincing.

Re:The Razor Principle all over (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740348)

No, that's how textbook economics works. Reality is often very different.
Check out what happened on Easter Island [primitivism.com] , with their "we'll cut back on consumption next year" attitude...

Re:The Razor Principle all over (0, Flamebait)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740166)

You're a great troll or stupid.

It's not a scam-- it's a well known way of selling a product. And if you go to the store you will usually see generic razors right next to the brand name razors. This case was about making it illegal to manufacture or use generic razors, to continue your metaphor.

As for printing less-- that's the part that makes me think your trolling more than just being dumb. I was gonna go home and print a few thousand man pages but now that you've shown me that the planet will be denuded in less than 100 years I wont. wow. and you've been modded up. now it is funny.

Re:The Razor Principle all over (2, Insightful)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740183)

I can atleast understand if Gillete want to defend themselves, as techically the razor is the hardest part to manufacture. The grip is just plastic. And even then, i gladly pay the replacements for my Mach3 becasue it's the better shave experience you can get.

Ink though, is basically water with pigments. They sell you half filled tanks (seriously, i've opened a few Epson and Lexmark ones) for outrageous prices, and actually try to stop the sale of third party ink cartigades, which in my experience work just as better as the "serious" ones. They are insane - stop selling printers for $80 and try a new buisness model.

As for printing less, i do that. I print whatever i need on a trusty Laserjet (whose toner doesn't seem to want to give up), which is usually a few pages a month.

Re:The Razor Principle all over (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740185)

Gillette has been doing what the whole printer industry is doing with Razors for YEARS: Give the tool away cheap or for free and charge high for the blades.


Well, I guess that depends entirely on wether or not someone can legally make plugin-compatible razor blades that can be used in the Gillette handles.

If someone can legally make a razor blade that works with a Gillette razor and you can buy them, then your analogy falls apart very quickly.

If, however, Gillette has used a copyright law to prevent people from making razor blades which will work in a Gillette razor, then your analogy is good.

Which is correct? I honestly don't know, I don't recall checking for generic blades to go into a Gillette razor. But like I said, unless they've barred someone from making a compatible blade, saying the razor industry has done this exact thing may not be accurate.

Cheers

Most paper is grown on tree farms (4, Interesting)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740187)

yep the trees used for paper production are farmed. So if you print less the land will be used for something else and there will be less trees.

Re:Most paper is grown on tree farms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740297)

If the land was used for tree farming, then it's not a big ecological loss if it's used for another kind of farming. At least it will lessen the pressure to cut down virgin forests.

tree farms (5, Funny)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740339)

I think that is cruel and inhumane. Trees were not made to be cooped up in little farms, just waiting to die!

I for one, only use paper from free-range rainforests.

Re:The Razor Principle all over (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740190)

Thanks for the sensationalism, but what about ink refill kits and generic printer cartridges?

Re:The Razor Principle all over (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740211)

Well, I prefer reading things on the screen anyway. It's too much hassle to print them out.

At work we print a lot, but I can't really recall the last time when we printed something that's not connected with the @#$%^&* bureaucracy.

Thus yes, boycotting printers is not that bad an idea.

Gameboy (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740103)

So does this mean that Nintendo can't claim copyright on the bitmap logo that is needed for the Gameboy to accept a cartridge? Does this open the door for third parties to manufacture their own GB cartridges?

Re:Gameboy (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740148)

That's an interesting one. It's always seemed a little dubious that console makers should have such a level of control over the software that plays on their machines.

On the other hand, copyrighted materials seem to be treated very differently legally. Many of the normal rules about competition and product tying don't seem to apply in the same way.

Sega v. Accolade (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740306)

The controlling case here is Sega Enterprises Ltd. v. Accolade Inc., 977 F.2d 1510, 24 USPQ2d 1561 (9th Cir. 1992) [eff.org] . The "Nintendo" bitmap in question, stored as a 48-byte cleartext bitmap in Game Boy and Game Boy Color games and a 156-byte Huffman-compressed bitmap in Game Boy Advance games, serves the same function as the TMSS code in Sega Genesis games.

Re:Gameboy (3, Interesting)

FLAGGR (800770) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740162)

People already do, check liksang

Re:Gameboy (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740312)

But does it open the door for third parties in the United States to legally make cartridges?

Yes (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740234)

If that image is the only way to load a cartridge then it is legal to copy under copyright law for purposes of interoperability. The DMCA ascpects are something else completely - I don't think this case changes them.

about time. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740110)

This is a good victory for ending frivolous use of laws to benefit corporations. Now, what we need to do is put the individual before the corporation and end direct lobbying by corporations. More info is available here: AntiLobbying Commission [tinyurl.com]

I know its silly (2, Interesting)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740111)

But is there no contrition or regret on the part of anyone at lexmark ?

I know its plausible to look at both lawyers and execs as bottom feeding scum, but in the entire case is there no one to say this was misguided and a bad use of the legal system ?

Don't worry. They'll be back. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740113)

Where the DMCA fails the Patriot Act succeeds.

I heard that Lexmark is trying to take over the AYBABTU.COM domain from Debian. Debain? That can't be right?!?!?

Ripoff Pricing.... (2, Insightful)

CCelebornn (829849) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740122)

I don't know how their prices are in the US, but it's terrible here in the UK. In fact, it is actually cheaper to buy a brand new printer with 2 brand new cartridges already in it than to just buy replacement cartridges for your existing one. It's an absolute disgrace. And then they release half priced ones with only half the tank filled, which STILL come out more expensive than all the other brands. I campaign a lot around the friends and familty to NOT BUY LEXMARK. They're all "well, it's so cheap" and "well I won't use it that much so cartridge prices don't matter". And thats the market they aim at :/

Re:Ripoff Pricing.... (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740159)

EvaporatingInk technology makes the ink in the cartridge evaporate faster so even while its turned off, the clock is ticking.

First Lexmark, Then HP (3, Interesting)

reporter (666905) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740124)

Wait about a year, and Hewlett Packard (HP) will join Lexmark in using the court system to earn money on their printers and print cartridges. Lexmark is a printer company, and HP is mostly a printer company plus some side interests that barely earn any money.

How can I be so sure?

Next time that you visit your local electronics store, walk on over to the section selling computer printers. Find the print cartridges. You will notice that print cartridges from Canon are now about 1/3 the cost of a print cartridge from either Lexmark or HP. No. I am not in error. The Canon cartridges are now super cheap and are as low as $8.

By the end of the year, you will notice a downward motion on HP stock.

Eh? (3, Informative)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740198)

Are you saying Canon is dumping cartridges onto the market?

This isn't the case, AFAIK. The reason the Canon cartridges are cheaper is because they are not entire cartridge assemblies like the HP and Lexmark ones are. Canon printers have you replace only the ink tank, rather than the ink tank and entire print head.

Regardless, Canon is the better choice. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740220)

Regardless of the design, the Canon solution is much cheaper. Here are your choices.

$40 for an HP printer and $30 for the cartridge.

$40 for a Canon printer and $8 for the cartridge.

Gosh. Which would you rather buy?

Canon is not dumping the print cartridges. Even at $8, they are highly profitable. At the same time, HP is in big trouble.

HP is already lowering prices. (2, Informative)

MattC413 (248620) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740232)

HP isn't lowering prices on the current stock of cartridges; instead, as they are changing to the new sets (56+57+58 and 94/96, 95/97, 99/100 low/high capacity). The new cartridges are just priced for less than what the ones for the old printers cost.

In fact, the 56 black cartridge only costs around $20 now, versus the $35 that the older black cartridge cost. The 94 black costs $20 also, and the high yield (+90% more ink) 96 black that's compatible is around $30. These are using pretty generic prices from most retail stores that sell these cartridges, of course, not any special discount or generic replacements.

I know this stuff because I'm in between IT jobs. It's amazing the stuff you can learn by taking a 'lower end' job like as a sales associate while looking for something more career oriented. Trends can be seen much more clearly when you can view industry changes from two viewpoints.

Re:First Lexmark, Then HP (2, Informative)

ranolen (581431) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740241)

The reason for canon cartridges being soooo cheap is there is no print head on them. Canon printers have the print head on the carrier inside the printer itself. This is a far better way to go now that printers are quite cheap to make. In previous years if the print head died then you would have to pay to get it fixed, so they started putting them on the cartridges. But its time to go back to having them on the printer!!!

Go Canon!!!

Re:First Lexmark, Then HP (1)

xthor (625227) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740260)

You will notice that print cartridges from Canon are now about 1/3 the cost of a print cartridge from either Lexmark or HP.

I haven't bought a Canon printer in quite some time, but last time I looked, Canon ink tanks had less then half the yield of their competitors. At least, this was the case with my BJC-2100 printer...

Re:First Lexmark, Then HP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740281)

HP Probably wont drop that much - they have recently(ish) started pushing their desktops systems towards allot of markets and HP's real money is made of medical computer equipment anyways, lexmark are just reaping the rewards of selling really poor products and trying to use what has elsewhere been referred to as "the gillette effect".

Remember when printers were really expensive? (2, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740130)

You can't have it both ways. What's the motivation for a printer mfg to continue to make the hardware at next-to-nothing margins if there is not a significant continuing revenue stream from ink. In not endorsing Lexmark's use of the DMCA here, just pointing out that printer mfgs are in business to make money.

Re:Remember when printers were really expensive? (2, Insightful)

kidgenius (704962) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740170)

The problem is that I would rather pay more for the hardware, and less for the consumables. Instead of trying to sell me a cheap printer and recover their costs in ink, charge me a lot for a printer, and give me cheaper ink.

Re:Remember when printers were really expensive? (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740184)

Unfortunately, the 1st mfg that does this is out of business in a heartbeat. The industry as a whole has created this system of cheap hw and expensive consumables. I fear we're stuck with it for a long time to come.

Re:Remember when printers were really expensive? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740209)

But you will. Competition is explicitely legally permitted. You can buy unbranded cartridges.

Lexmark can still sell their printer at a loss since they'll still be able to charge a little more for their cartridges thanks to brand recognition. Many people are a lot happier buying cartridges from the same people that made their printer.

Re:Remember when printers were really expensive? (1)

t_allardyce (48447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740194)

Absolutely, and if i was a printer manufacturer I would be making it as hard as possible for knock-off cartridges. But the DMCA is a step too far, people have the right to reverse-engineer for interoperability (just like they also have the right to obfuscate to reduce interoperability) but when you abuse a controversial law for something it wasn't even meant for thats the limit at which most people should say "You know what, fuck Lexmark".

Re:Remember when printers were really expensive? (1)

Kuj0317 (856656) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740314)

Have you seen or used any of those cheap printers? They are truely horrid. They are completely software driven, and the software is bloated beyond belief. They are also extremely flimsy. To top it all off, they dont print any better than printers from a few years ago did. That all being said, i have an old Cannon BubbleJet 200 which is well built and the printer cartridges are relatively reasonably priced. I will never use a lexmark, because my mom bought a lexmark POS printer for 50 bux, the refill was 35, and the first cartridge lasted 2 weeks. To top it off, the printer will not work (even b&W) if both cartridges are not present and not empty. That means that in order to print in black and white, i must have a working color cartridge. That is just rediculous.

Good, this levels the playing field (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740131)

The initial price of printers will increase, and the corresponding cost of cartridges will decrease. This is a good outcome; the razor-markup model has always been a bit dishonest. Now price and cost will be more closely aligned, so partially-informed consumers will be able to make better purchasing decisions.

It's better for the manufacturers too, because their competition won't be doing it either. They no longer need to "keep up with the Joneses" and engage in shady pricing.

Re:Good, this levels the playing field (2, Insightful)

kenthorvath (225950) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740358)

The initial price of printers will increase, and the corresponding cost of cartridges will decrease.

My prediction: things will stay the same. This isn't about maximizing profit - at least not to the extent that Lexmark would have you believe. It's about control. Big business would love to have ultimate control over its products. That's why you see the RIAA et al. trying to crush P2P when signs point to the fact that P2P actually increases their business. There seems to be a fallacy that control=profit.

Real simple.. (4, Interesting)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740133)

Just void warranty on people/companies who use 3'rd party "ink" unless it's 'certified' to work with the printer.

And for some uses, I can see why a 3'rd party ink is worse in certain printers..

I still like the 5 cartridge cheap-o-ink Epson's. The reps actually encourage by saying "We dont do Lexmarks Scheme of lockins".

Re:Real simple.. (3, Insightful)

winkydink (650484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740151)

OK. I keep the original ink carts (or buy a single set of replacement ones)that come with my printer and replace them with el-cheapos. My printer breaks and I send it back with the mfg's ink. Prove I voided my warranty.

Lexmark... (1)

Mastadex (576985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740136)

I have a lexmark printer from back in the early 90's, when IBM was still with them. Ever since, thier company has gone downhill very quickly. Needless to say, I know why.

You know that scene at the end of 'office space', where they take the printer out into the middle of a field and beat the living crap out of it....I wish i could do the same to my lexmark.

Does this mean (4, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740146)

Does this mean that HP won't be able to region encode ink cartridges, or at least be a precedent when they are brought to court.

Consumers 1 : 0 Lexmark (0)

Space_Soldier (628825) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740157)

I can't wait for the street corner drug dealer to sue under DMCA that you can only use his trademarked baggies to pack dope.

This was a win for the consumers.

-1 free ipod (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740255)

Hello,
I have modded you down for the free ipod link in your sig. That is all.

Re:-1 free ipod (0, Offtopic)

Space_Soldier (628825) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740317)

You are abusing your moderator powers.

Re:-1 free ipod (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740367)

You are spamming slashdot. Given how many articles there are about the niusence of spam, how can you think it is appropriate to spam here?

From the article... (5, Insightful)

kenthorvath (225950) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740167)

, the 6th Circuit US Court of Appeals found that the Toner Loading Program was not a copyrightable work, as it was less a work of expression than of function. Copyright is not available merely to "any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery," but Lexmark's use falls exclusively on the idea side of the fence. "[I]nteroperable devices" may use proprietary security systems to lock out unauthorized interoperability, but a technology developed solely for this functional purpose is not copyrightable. Furthermore, the court noted that even if these programs were copyrightable, SCC's copying of protected portions of the work would likely still enjoy fair use protections, because the courts have ruled that "fair use doctrine preserves public access to the ideas and functional elements embedded in copyrighted computer software programs."

Does anyone know what the status of the DeCSS lawsuits are, and whether this applies? I would also love to see this applied to other things.

But wouldn't this have other implications as well? The notion that a work that is designed merely as a means to function is not copyrightable may have implications for the GPL, would it not? How much code is copyrighted and protected under the GPL that was designed only with function in mind, and nothing else?

What about the code that SCO claims ownership of? Even if it existed, could they in fact have copyright over it, given this ruling?

Re:From the article... (2, Informative)

ewhac (5844) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740332)

Does anyone know what the status of the DeCSS lawsuits are, and whether this applies?

It does not apply. Indeed, DVD-CCA cannot sue for copyright violation, since they did not write DeCSS.

DVD-CCA are suing under the auspices of trade secret law, not copyright law. In other words, DVD-CCA's pleading is that DeCSS incorporates technologies that were obtained through "improper reverse-engineering" in violation of the so-called software "license," which claims trade secret rights over the software. As such, claims DVD-CCA, all work proceeding from this reverse-engineering is tainted, including DeCSS, and people trafficking in DeCSS knew, or should have known, that the work was protected.

Though DVD-CCA is losing the case, it's still before the courts, and taking a bloody long time to resolve.

Schwab

Re:From the article... (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740347)

If "work that is designed merely as a means to function" applies to GPL source code, wouldn't it apply to proprietary source code too?

If software copyright went away, we wouldn't have (much of) a problem because all that illegal Windows source code floating around would suddenly be up for grabs too...

Buy a laser printer (5, Informative)

Apreche (239272) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740171)

This is only a problem with inkjet crap printers. Its much more economical to buy a laser printer, even a color laser printer. Sure, the toner is like 100 bucks. But it lasts forever. Especially if its just your house. Plus, laser printers often have network cards making it much easier to network the whole house to use just the one printer. And its higher quality printing that makes copies faster.

Sure, it's expensive to start out, but you can find pretty good cheap used ones on ebay, especially if you only need black and white. And its cheaper than inkjet over the long run. More reliable too.

Personally I think apple needs to re-enter the printer market. They used to make great laser printers.

Color Laser is Not Cheap! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740342)

As the owner of an HP Color LaserJet 4550N, I can attest to the fact that color is not cheap! A plain black laser printer is a steal compared to an inkjet, but not their colored brethren. I paid about $700 on eBay for the 4550N which had about 30,000 sheets run through it already. Not bad. However, the thing takes four toner cartridges which run over $100 each. Then you have all of the kits that will eventually need replaced; those run around $300 each. Granted, I love the thing to death, but it's expensive to run for color jobs.

Just get a cheap laser printer (5, Insightful)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740197)

I got sick and tired of having to pay so much for cartridges because I am still a college student and printing out even 50 pages worth of lecture notes and slides can take out around 1/8 of many of those carts. So I paid $150 for a Brother laser printer and it took me 1.5 school years to go through 1 single toner cartridge. Amazing isn't it?

The scary part is that I tell people about this, how all they have to do is sacrifice color and they can go at least 1 school year without paying $20-$30 per cartridge. For my HL-1440, not exactly a high end piece of equipment, a new toner cart costs only $70.00. Even if it were $100.00 it would still be worth the cost. What does it say about America that these college kids, many of whom do in fact have to pay for their own supplies can't be bothered to put down $140-$200 now for a new laser printer so that they can save 3-5x that in at least 1 fulltime school year of printing?

Having had this now for going on 2 years and it still works well, I just don't understand why people who don't NEED color printers opt for the much more expensive inkjet. Most printing is black and white and you can save hundreds of dollars, enough to buy your laser printer several times over, if you get the right model because the toner cartridge it comes with can do at least a few thousand pages. I know I got at around 4,000-5,000 pages out of my first toner cartridge.

Re:Just get a cheap laser printer (1)

Wakkow (52585) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740302)

Why not print all that stuff on campus? Surely they give you free pages each quarter/semester.

Re:Just get a cheap laser printer (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740366)

When I was at uni, they provided free printing facilities (HP LaserJets in all labs), and they paid for the toner. You just had to supply your own paper. I got through three years of uni without owning a printer. When I did get a printer, I got an Epson ink jet. The ink was reasonably cheap, and I hardly ever used colour.

I've since given that printer to my girlfriend and got a Samsung colour laser. Built-in network interface is uber-cool, and the price per page is very low. Although the Epson can give a better colour print on glossy paper, the laser can give a much better print on plain paper.

A school in Albury found that it was acutally cheaper to replace Lexmark printers than buy consumables. They've since switched to Samsung.

Lexmark is BAD (1, Interesting)

nberardi (199555) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740199)

This is really offensive use of the Law and even though I like Lexmark products I wish they would fail as a business, because I beleive in punishing companies though the use of the consumers walets. I am not going to buy their products anymore, one person won't matter but if everybody does this or at least all /.ers it will be a big step.

-1 free mac mini (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740267)

Hello,
I have modded you down for the free mac mini link in your sig. That is all.

Re:-1 free mac mini (1)

nberardi (199555) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740338)

What you don't like Mac or something. Sorry I am a little strapped and I need to upgrade from my old Mac.

So, how does this compare to car trouble codes? (4, Interesting)

Buran (150348) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740224)

The decision includes the phrase "If we were to adopt Lexmark's reading of the statute, manufacturers could potentially create monopolies for replacement parts simply by using similar, but more creative, lock-out codes.". This is interesting.

Just this past weekend, I had a check-engine light in my 2000 VW Golf diagnosed by a fellow VW club member via the use of a scanner made by ROSS-Tech Inc (which is also working on generic OBDII and BMW scanners) via the use of reverse engineering, similar to the way the BIOS of the original IBM PC was reverse-engineered.

As discussed in the article Wired News: Drivers Want Code to Their Cars [wired.com] , automakers don't release all of the diagnostic codes to vehicles, claiming that releasing the codes "would allow independent parts manufacturers to copy components that cost millions of dollars to develop".

However, the way I read the Lexmark article is that doing exactly that is legitimate -- by purchasing the car/printer, the consumer is granted access to the proprietary software inside the item that allows it to function, and can use third-party equipment to service it and keep it in a workable condition.

Perhaps a third-party manufacturer of automotive parts needs to sue an automaker to force release of the diagnostic codes. Or, maybe even the maker of the scanner that was used to reveal why my check-engine light triggered. But even if not, I don't think VW would, say, be able to bring a case against the scanner maker under the DMCA.

(The code was "fuel mixture too lean" and turned out to have been caused by a snapped vacuum hose; fixed in five minutes at no cost by pulling another hose off a soon-to-be-junked parts car.)
Oh... and the Ars Technica guy was right: the DMCA DOES need to go away.

Side story of IP Ridiculosity (4, Interesting)

serutan (259622) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740233)

One of the paradoxes of Intellectual Property is that the IP industry wants it to be treated like real property, exccept for the fact that you can't restrict how customers use real property once it's in their hands. At least not yet.

There is a small company that makes a template for routers -- the woodworking kind, not the networking kind -- for cutting dovetail joints. It's basically a piece of plastic that you clamp onto a piece of wood to guide the router. If you wanted to, you could use the template to make an identical template out of another piece of plastic. To guard against this possibility the manufacturer encloses a license agreement with the template, stating that the customer is specifically not allowed to do this. It further says you are authorized to use the template for personal woodworking projects only, not for business use.

This may be a silly example (although true), but I think there's a clear and present danger that the whacked logic of the IP world could spread like a fungus into the real world, and we could indeed wake up one day to find it illegal to use a Stanley hammer on non-Stanley nails. Frightening -- unless you are Mr. Stanley or his IP lawyer.

One more reason to find out who your representatives are [house.gov] and write them a short note periodically, once is good but once a month is better, urging them to consider the adverse impacts of IP issues on the public domain.

Re:Side story of IP Ridiculosity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740360)

There is a small company that makes a template for routers -- the woodworking kind, not the networking kind -- for cutting dovetail joints. It's basically a piece of plastic that you clamp onto a piece of wood to guide the router. If you wanted to, you could use the template to make an identical template out of another piece of plastic. To guard against this possibility the manufacturer encloses a license agreement with the template, stating that the customer is specifically not allowed to do this. It further says you are authorized to use the template for personal woodworking projects only, not for business use.

Who is the company, and has the license agreement been tested in court?

I could, if I so choose, enclose a scrap of paper bearing a "license agreement" that has any set of ridiculous terms I choose. For example, I could write one that says by using the product, you swear under penalty of death to sacrifice your firstborn child on a stone altar.

Good luck getting a court to enforce it, though.
--
AC

Lxmrk printers are ridiculously cheap and shoddy (5, Informative)

empraptor (748821) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740239)

I would know, having worked as a sales rep at an electronics retailer.

There are so many nightmarish stories customers walk into the stores with. Dried up ink, cartridges that run out in a few weeks, broken printers, etc. I never recommended a Lexmark once. Many computer packages were bundled with Lexmark by default, maybe because they're so cheap and there are rebates, but you're better off with other brands.

Oh, and the cartridges. Just as shoddy as the printers. Customers complained of ink drying up after not using the printer for a week. A week. Wee small things too, the ink compartments are. I doubt the ink would last long.

Lexmark will be dead soon even if they had won this lawsuit. Just as well that they lost. People won't have the stupid choice available to them that much sooner.

Re:Lxmrk printers are ridiculously cheap and shodd (1)

Vash_066 (816757) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740326)

I can relate to that, as a X-Best Buy employee (I can't say that proud enough) I would never tell the customers to buy a lexmark product. I was taken to the back room many times and asked why I would do this, since the store made such a profit off these items. I told them I didn't see the point of selling something that would just get returned with in a day or two. How is that "helping the customer find technology to fit his or her lifestyle"? They asked me if I ever thought that maybe them being forced to come back into the store would help generate sales because they would probably buy more equipment. I was almost in shock. Even our Lexmak rep would go on about how crappy this stuff was.....

Lexmark uses low-tech gouging methods, too (4, Informative)

gvc (167165) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740248)

I guess you could still call it "digital" although not electronic. Lexmark uses a metal tab to prevent you from putting Samsung cartridges in their E210 printer, even though the printer is manufactured by Samsung.

Of course, the Lexmark cartridges cost 50% more.

If anybody still has an E210 and is still shelling out for Lexmark cartridges, please visit How to use a Samsung cartridge in a Lexmark [uwaterloo.ca] .

And never buy another Lexmark.

"Opensource" Ink formula (3, Funny)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740253)

What we need is an "pensource" ink formula for both color and black & white categories. Then our kernel hackers can design a chip to exploit the strengths of the ink. Governments round the world can then churn out printers.

Then we will be free of these greedy companies. How far have we gone with the opensource BIOS?

Lexmark is good for the environment (2, Funny)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740323)

"Lexmark had designed their printers to use a proprietary toner cartridge technology which had the result that only Lexmark branded toner cartridges would work in some of their printers. Lexmark's general tactic was to sell discounted toner cartridges with this technology under the assumption that consumers would have to return their cartridges to Lexmark to be refilled or recycled."

So you see, they were doing all this for the good of the environment, not to lock people into their products.............and if you believe that, I have a bridge for sale. email me.

Stock. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11740340)

Looks like nows a great time to invest in Lexmark.

Anyone want to buy some stock?

Wow (3, Funny)

neypo (860979) | more than 9 years ago | (#11740359)

Thats pretty amazing. I have a Lexmark X85 all in one (fax, print, scan, photocopy) and its ok besides that fact the ink carts/ink refils already costs an arm and a leg.
It gives me the serious creeps like im being watched or something when I print a document and the robot voice kicks in "Printing has started" or "Failed to communicate with printer".... im waiting for it to say "Don't look behind you".
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