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The Courts Government Printer United States News

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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  • by t_allardyce (48447) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:26PM (#11740064) Journal
    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?
  • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:27PM (#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.
  • by xiando (770382) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:30PM (#11740099) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Gameboy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:31PM (#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?
  • unfortunately.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:31PM (#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.

  • I know its silly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Crashmarik (635988) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:32PM (#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 ?
  • by reporter (666905) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:34PM (#11740124) Homepage
    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.

  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:35PM (#11740130) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • Real simple.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:35PM (#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".
  • Does this mean (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:38PM (#11740146) Homepage
    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.
  • Re:Gameboy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FLAGGR (800770) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:39PM (#11740162)
    People already do, check liksang
  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:40PM (#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.
  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:44PM (#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.
  • Lexmark is BAD (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nberardi (199555) * on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:46PM (#11740199) Homepage
    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.
  • by Buran (150348) on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:50PM (#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.
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:51PM (#11740233) Homepage
    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.
  • Yes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:51PM (#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.
  • Re:unfortunately.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by joeljkp (254783) <joeljkparker@gma ... m minus math_god> on Monday February 21, 2005 @06:59PM (#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?
  • 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.
  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:33PM (#11740480) Homepage
    I notice that whenever they come out with their latest quad-blade teflon-coated lemon-fresh system that I get more bad batches of blades for my handle that's a few cycles behind. Unless they're making the blades out of old Yugos, I don't see why they'd have sudden quality-control problems making blades that have been fine for years before that.
  • Printing Costs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sxmjmae (809464) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:49PM (#11740589)
    I always looked at the cost per page for Black and white and the cost per page for color.

    I did own a HP until the price for the ink was was more than the printer.

    I bought a Cannon S600. From the research I could find on the cost per page it was the the best. It also has good enough quality for things I do at home.

    When I went to purchase a photo printer I looked first at Cannon. The simple fact is that I could reload all the color and black cartiages on the S600 for ~$35 impressed me so much that never even wanted to consider another product.

    Now I have 9 cartiages to change but at I can get all the cartiages at once for about $75 if I catch the sale on the package set for the printer.

    The point is why spend more on cartiages then you do the printer? It tells me the real value they put on the printers.

  • by chadruva (613658) on Monday February 21, 2005 @07:50PM (#11740598) Homepage
    I'm never gonna buy another lexmark again!, first, they Linux support is reather bad, but the ink cardbridge price is totally insane.

    I bought a cheapo Lexmark Z605 a few months back, which was around 50 that day, it included 2 inks (one b/w other color). The cardbridges didn't lasted, I had to buy another set, but then I saw the prices, heck! 30 for b/w and 35 for color, OMG!, that was more than the printer itself!

    I buyed only a b/w cartbridge, after it was empty I went for a recharge from a provider near my house, wich will fill it for around $15, but the cardbridge was in bad state and reather tricky to refill, they suggested me to buy another printer, as it was only round $30 for the same printer model.

    WTF are they thinking? do I need to trash my printer and buy a new one just to get those damm cardbridges?

    Enough of it, i'm gonna buy an HP or a Cannon.
  • by nbert (785663) on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:14PM (#11740754) Homepage Journal
    I'm spending about one hour a week fixing Lexmark related problems for relatives (the type of relatives you can't advise to buy a new printer).

    I'm just mentioning it because your statement sounds like Lexmark at least delivers. If there is one thing I'm annoyed about this millennium it's the X75 branch trying to cooperate with Win2000/XP. It's almost like a random generator is trying to determine which USB port is good today or if it wants to talk to the printer at all. Sometimes I'm wondering why plain old parallel ports are just as reliable as USB regarding to printers...
  • Re:unfortunately.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dnoyeb (547705) on Monday February 21, 2005 @08:46PM (#11740999) Homepage Journal
    Actually I bought lexmark for myself, and my mother, and a friend whom I build a computer for.

    After lexmark shitted on me, through high prices and poor quality, I have now a Brother laser printer. I also got one for my mother. I wont ever buy Lexmark again. (I still don't buy gas from Shell nor drink Coke due to apartheid)

    Many consumers do not forget. And as a sort of Tech leader to the people I know, they will be loosing more than 1 customer.
  • by bnenning (58349) on Monday February 21, 2005 @09:22PM (#11741178)
    Two hundred thousand years with the same years and we manage to fuck it up in three hundred.

    Yes, damn those modern creations like penicillin and indoor plumbing. If only we could live in harmony with nature like our ancestors, it would be a paradise. Aside from most of us dying by 40 from diseases or bear attacks, of course.

    The more you consume, the more you damage the future of your children.

    That is far from clear. Consumption has increased substantially over the last few centuries, and personally I'd much rather live in today's world than in 1805.
  • by rs79 (71822) <hostmaster@open-rsc.org> on Monday February 21, 2005 @10:37PM (#11741607) Homepage
    Amen brother.

    I don't do paper. No printer. No paper. No ink.

    You want an invoice? Go this this url and click print sir. I'm not wasting an envelope and stamp just to get some ink onto paper on your desk.

    I buy a 3x3 stack of notepaper every xmas and that's my years supply of paper.

    I went paper-free in 94. The web is my printer.
    It did take me a couple of years to get used to it, but it's worth the effot IMO and once you are used to it printing anything is just inconceivable.

    I can send and recive faxes from my computer, which I do MAYBE once a year.

    Go to this URL and click print, sir.
  • War Is Over? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday February 21, 2005 @11:02PM (#11741716) Homepage Journal
    '"[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.'

    So does that mean that DRM schemes in general are not copyrightable? Doesn't that mean that all the standard Slashdot bugbears, like DVD/CSS, the stuff in iTunes/AAC, Macrovision, all of Microsoft and Adobe's stuff - and every closed eBook DRM, and every other copy protection that merely locks in a medium to a mandatory "interoperable" player, is not copyrightable? So they're fair game for reverse engineering and workarounds? I'm pretty happy about all that, but it seems too good to be true.
  • Thanks, Lexmark (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Monday February 21, 2005 @11:10PM (#11741742) Homepage Journal
    We all owe Lexmark gratitude (and nothing else ;) for their determined effort to prove, at great expense, that their kind of DMCA abuse isn't allowed. Without sleazebags testing the limits of the laws defining our rights, and losing, we'd never know where those limits are, until it's too late. Thank you, and good riddance!
  • Re:unfortunately.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonym1ty (534715) on Tuesday February 22, 2005 @12:41PM (#11746103) Homepage Journal
    I no longer go to American ever since they were busted with sales people secretly wearing hidden cameras "for training" - I'm sorry but It just sickened me and there isn't anything they can ever do that will ever make me feel better about them.

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