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Lexmark's DMCA-Abuse Case Coming To An End 431

Posted by timothy
from the pfui-on-them dept.
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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Lexmark's DMCA-Abuse Case Coming To An End

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  • Buy a laser printer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Apreche (239272) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:41PM (#11740171) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Eh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by StarKruzr (74642) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:45PM (#11740198) Journal
    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.
  • by MattC413 (248620) <MattC413@@@hotmail...com> on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:51PM (#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.
  • by empraptor (748821) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:52PM (#11740239) Homepage

    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.

  • by ranolen (581431) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:52PM (#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!!!

  • by gvc (167165) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:53PM (#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.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:09PM (#11740332) Homepage Journal
    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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:10PM (#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.
  • Re:unfortunately.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by BroncoInCalifornia (605476) on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:19PM (#11740391)
    Consumer Reports puts a Price per Page figure in their articles.
  • by eric2hill (33085) <eric@ijacBALDWINk.net minus author> on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:50PM (#11740597) Homepage
    The company is called Stots [stots.com] and the product is called the TemplateMaster [stots.com]. There's an pretty good writeup [gripe2ed.com] of the issue online, and an old Slashdot article [slashdot.org] about the Ed Foster write-up.
  • by labnet (457441) on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:54PM (#11740620)
    Use an electric razor!! I changed over from razors a year ago and won't be looking back!
  • by Migraineman (632203) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:06PM (#11740704)
    You're talking about the Stots TemplateMaster. [gripe2ed.com] The license is even worse than you indicate - the license attempts to restrict resale of the physical object.

    I've got serious objections to folks who try to "license" me physical objects. If I purchase it through retail channels, it's a "sale." I have certain ownership rights at that point. If I choose to give the object to my slacker brother-in-law, the manufacturer is SOL to do anything about the transfer. If you have a patent on the object, you have legal recourse to pursue me if I make a duplicate item. However, you still can't prevent me from giving the original to someone else.

    Even the First Sale Doctrine [usdoj.gov] in copyright law doesn't apply here. Assuming that you could actually copyright a physical object (i.e. a dovetailing jig,) I've still got the right to transfer ownership under the First Sale Doctrine. You can't take that away from me with some crummy EULA-esque piece of toilet paper jammed in the box.

    The crossover of IP into meatspace is a bad thing. IP is not a physical object that I can bash into the curb if I want to. It deserves none of the ownership protections afforded to hardware. That includes patents. (Don't get me started on software patents being a horrible thing, or why I think IP *is* software ...) Copyright is the place for non-tangible items ... like software and IP. Unfortunately, the software industry seems to be purchasing politicians as fast as the entertainment industry is.
  • by Holi (250190) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:09PM (#11740721)
    Actually, the razor analogy only kinda works. Razors, like the Mach 3, are patented not copyrighted. What lexmark should have done is patent the connection between cartridge and printer. That would have provided far more protection then this stupid DMCA crap.
  • by KarmaOverDogma (681451) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:26PM (#11740849) Homepage Journal
    The EFF was a part of preveting yet another case of the DMCA being used to quash innovation.

    This is a perfect example of what the EFF has been trying to do on our behalf: and by "our" I especially mean the /. crowd: http://www.eff.org/endangered/list.php#toner

    The relevent text from the page:

    Species: Static Control Components remanufactured Lexmark toner cartridge
    Genus: Printer toner cartridge
    Threat averted: Overreaching claims under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

    What it is: A printer toner cartridge refurbished by Static Control Components, sold more cheaply than new Lexmark-branded cartridges.
    What it lets you do: Toner cartridges are among the most expensive consumables of a laser printer. Lexmark's cartridges include chips with little bits of code that report back to the printer about toner-fill level -- but they also reveal whether or not the cartridge is "Lexmark authorized." The printer will refuse to print if the cartridge isn't "authorized," so Static Control replaced the chips so its refilled cartridges would work in Lexmark printers and report themselves "full of ink."
    Why it was endangered: Lexmark wasn't very happy about competing with Static Control for cartridge sales. It sued, claiming that the cartridge-printer "handshake" was a mechanism protecting a copyrighted work, so circumventing the mechanism violated the DMCA. The copyrighted work in question? The "toner loader program" in the cartridge chip.

    How EFF helped save it: EFF filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Static Control Components. We argued that the software was no more than a lock-out code, and that the DMCA explicitly permits the creation of interoperable software. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed.

    Have *you* joined yet?
    .
  • by tootlemonde (579170) on Monday February 21, 2005 @10:10PM (#11741119)

    HP is mostly a printer company plus some side interests that barely earn any money.

    According to the HP's quarterly report [hp.com], it had quarterly revenue of $21.5 billion and earnings (profit) of $1.1 billion.

    The Imaging and Printer division produced $6.1 billion in revenue. The other $15 billion came from what you call the "side interests", personal computers, storage and servers, software, services and financing.

    The printer division is by far the most profitable, contributing about 70% of the profit. But the other divisions contributed about a half a billion dollars for the quarter, which is a long way from barely any money.

    HP claims [hp.com] to be #1 globally in inkjet, all-in-one and single-function printers, mono and color laser printers, large format printing, scanners, print servers, and ink and laser supplies

    However, its "side interests" make it

    • #1 globally in x86, Windows, Linux, UNIX and Blade servers
    • #1 in total disk storage systems
    • #2 globally in notebook PCs
    • #1 globally in Pocket PCs
  • by Methuseus (468642) <methuseus@yahoo.com> on Monday February 21, 2005 @11:09PM (#11741465)
    You forgot to mention that cartridges expire (both ink and toner carts). After expiration they will not let the printer print, even if full.
  • Re:Hopefully... (Score:3, Informative)

    by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Monday February 21, 2005 @11:20PM (#11741526) Homepage
    Especially this bit:

    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.


    (IANAL)
  • Better than Lexmark (Score:5, Informative)

    by mazariyn (525556) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @12:44AM (#11741874)
    The Lexmark decision was a nice victory, but the Federal Circuit decided a DMCA case that may well have a bigger impact on the interpretation of the DMCA - The Chamberlain Group v. Skylink Technologies, 381 F.3d 1178 (Fed. Cir. 2004). Opinion on Findlaw [findlaw.com]

    The Federal Circuit basically read into the DMCA an "intent to pirate" requirement - simple circumvention isn't enough to violate the DMCA unless you intend to pirate or facilitate piracy of copyrighted works. What effect the ruling will have isn't clear, but it goes MUCH farther than the Lexmark decision. Lexmark basically said (a) that the code contained in the Lexmark printer cartridges wasn't copyrightable and therefore the DMCA couldn't apply, and (b) that in any event, the code was only protected from one form of access, but was completely unprotected via another - i.e. it was not effectively protected. Meaning the 6th circuit didn't really address the big issue - can the DMCA be used to stifle competition?

    To get a quick idea of where the Chamberlain Group decision went, read the relatively short (2 page) concurring opinion in Lexmark by Judge Merritt (cite: 387 F.3d 522) Lexmark Opinion on Findlaw [findlaw.com].
  • Cheap Generic Blades (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nick Driver (238034) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @12:57AM (#11741928)
    The big difference about the Gillette razor is that the cheap generic blades always sucked and didn't last very long, and the genuine Gillette brand blades performed an order of magnitude better and lasted a lot longer... actually giving you your money's worth.

    In the inkjet printer industry, both the genuine brand name cartridges AND the cheap generics (when and if available) all suck in the value area, they just simply cost way too much per page.

    I dearly miss my old beloved original solid-metal Atra razor that gave me a quarter century of excellent shaves before it finally broke... I'm not going to buy any new Gillette products due to the RFID and secret photographing of customers controversy. Been buying Schick disposable Xtreme3 razors lately and they actually give an excellent shave and last a long time, but they feel cheap and lightweight since they are... well... disposeables.
  • by cr0sh (43134) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @01:42AM (#11742142) Homepage
    How cheap? How about $8.00 US?

    This past weekend I was shopping at a Goodwill (you wouldn't believe the crazy and cheap stuff you can find - and most of it works!), and one of the workers brought out an HP LaserJet 5MP. Not a fast printer, but seeing the "P" said to me "Postscript SIMM" and I prayed it was still in place. A quick check of the printer revealed not only was the SIMM in place, but that 32 meg of RAM was also installed, along with paper and a toner cartridge. It also had an Appletalk adaptor connected. All of the cords, and all of the covers. It was in perfect condition.

    I picked it up, took it over to the electrical testing outlet (each store has one or two for this purpose), plugged it in, turned it on, and hit the test print - beautiful output! A little slow, but nice. No streaks, just crisp 600 dpi black and white. I then had it print the diagnostics page - no probs there, either - and it came up with a page count of approximately 43,000! Just a young'un!

    I powered it off with a crazy grin on my face, seeing the price tag of $9.99, and knowing I had a wallet full of 20% off coupons...

    One sawbuck later and two dollars in change back I was the proud owner of a working Postscript laser printer, perfect for my *nix needs!

    Please note - it is not an uncommon occurrance to see HP Laserjets at Goodwill, though this is the first time I have seen a 5MP - most of the time I run across III's and 1100's, occasionally a 6, and never a 4 (yet) - I also once found a color laser printer (don't remember the brand) for $50.00 - but I didn't take it because I remember one of employers purchasing the same machine and spending close to $200.00/ea for the three color toner cartridges (cyan/yellow/magenta), though the black cartridge was fairly cheap...

  • by millennial (830897) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:36AM (#11743357) Journal
    Here's a couple references: http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/forums/inkjet/268 47 http://www.infoworld.com/article/03/03/14/11gripe_ 1.html
  • by Mycroft_VIII (572950) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @08:36AM (#11743359) Journal
    I once got some lexmark ink for just nine dollars for the pair of them after rebate, even came with a lexmark printer.
    Someone started the sale the day before a rebate offer expired.

    Mycroft

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