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Chip Shortage Forces Canon To Issue Workarounds For Its Own Obnoxious DRM

from the something-akin-to-justice dept

For decades now, consumers have been lured into a sour deal: pay for a relatively inexpensive printer, then spend a lifetime paying an arm and a leg for viciously overpriced printer cartridges. As most have learned first-hand, any attempt to disrupt this obnoxious paradigm via third-party printer cartridges has been met with a swift DRM roundhouse kick to the solar plexus. In fact if there's an area where the printer industry actually innovates, it's most frequently in finding new, creative and obnoxious methods of preventing cartridge competition.

Unfortunately for Canon, the global chip shortage has temporarily put a kink in the company's plan to annoy regular customers. The shortage means the company hasn't been able to buy enough chips used to determine whether a printer cartridge is "genuine" or "authorized," and therefore has had to start selling cartridges without DRM, and issue guidance helping users do an end around for the company's own obnoxious DRM warnings:

The company's various international websites warn users that even "official" Canon ink cartridges could be seen as "counterfeit" across a range of printer products lines (19 devices in total) because they can no longer embed the chips needed for DRM:

"The role the chip plays in the toner cartridges is to communicate information, this includes toner level and to confirm that the toner is a genuine Canon product."

Whoops.

Canon was just sued last October for disabling all the functions in their multifunction printers if the device's cartridges ran out of ink (and failing to adequately disclose that to consumers). Basically, Canon did the math and realized that they'd boost their profit margins if they forced millions of customers to buy new printer cartridges -- even if they were only using the device to scan. That this might annoy, inconvenience, or drive up costs for its customers, or sour the public on the brand apparently never entered into the company's thinking.

Of course, none of this would be a problem if the company hadn't embraced annoying, artificial limitations in a bid to hamper competition and drive up costs in the first place, but it's obviously unlikely Canon will learn much of anything from the experience.

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Filed Under: anti-circumvention, chip shortage, copyright, dmca 1201, drm, printers
Companies: canon


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  • icon
    Thad (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 11:08am

    Calling it "DRM" is a stretch.

    While some printer manufacturers have used the chips on their ink to prevent third-party cartridges from working (looking at you, HP), all Canon does when it detects an unauthorized cartridge is pop up a warning that it's not authorized.

    The "workaround for obnoxious DRM"* you describe are to click the "I Agree" button. That's it. It's DRM in the same way that WinZip's nag screen is DRM.

    * note: page is in German but screenshots are in English and are self-explanatory

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 11:41am

      Re:

      As far as I gathered from Ars Technica, the cartridges in question are for large format printers with less onerous DRM than home office multifuction printers.

      I expect that the business class machine has a much higher price point, justifying the less onerous DRM. I find the articles suggestion that Canon is doing this for all ink cartridges to be the most questionable decision.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2022 @ 12:14pm

      Re:

      You know, WinZip's nag screen will go away, if you get off your cheap ass and actually PAY for the software.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2022 @ 12:22pm

        Re: Re:

        Why would anyone pay for a bad 7-zip knockoff?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2022 @ 1:10pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Why would anyone pay for a bad 7-zip knockoff?

          Could you explain how WinZip is a "bad 7-zip knockoff" when it was first released 8 years before 7-zip?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            TaboToka (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 2:43pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Nico Mak is that really you?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            deadspatula (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 3:50pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You are not tall enough for this joke.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Lostinlodos (profile), 12 Jan 2022 @ 6:20pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Could you explain how WinZip is a "bad 7-zip knockoff" when it was first released 8 years before 7-zip?

            Not quite. WinZip was a GUI for PKZip on release. So it dates back to 1989 in public access. Alphas go back about another year or so from the BBS and CompuServe world.
            In 95 it switched to InfoZip. Still someone else’s engine.

            A stand-alone product of their own didn’t arrive until 2006 with general public release in 08. That was the zipX format variation.

            7zip’s 7z definitely predates zipX.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ECA (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re:

        YOU know the creator of ZIP, wouldnt sellout his product?
        Gave it away free, unless you were a corp.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Professor Ronny, 11 Jan 2022 @ 1:58pm

        Re: WinZip

        I prefer WinZip and have paid for it in the past. I just got a new computer and went to buy a new copy and they have adopted the Adobe "pay forever" model and want a subscription. When I saw that, I switched to 7-Zip.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2022 @ 3:41pm

        Re: Re:

        You know, no one complained about it. But i thank your off-topic ass for explaining WinZip's business model for people who couldn't understand the nag screen.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 12 Jan 2022 @ 6:02am

      Re:

      It's still DRM. The fact that, in this specific implementation and at this specific moment in time, they chose that the outcome of failing the DRM check was a message instead of an actual block on using the product does not stop it from being DRM.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 11 Jan 2022 @ 2:31pm

    Are you suggesting there's a printer manufacturer out there who doesn't screw over its customers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 2:56pm

      Re:

      Brother has historically been pretty good, though I hear they too have gotten in on the DRM con recently.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous, 11 Jan 2022 @ 4:45pm

      Re:

      Epson can be counted in with the bad folk. They've got the same chips to check that the cartridges are genuine.

      What's worse, they sell identical cartridges under different model numbers in different parts of the world. Moving to a new region and want to take your printer with you? Good luck! You probably have to buy third party chips to get the official cartridges to be recognized by your printer, which also means wading through the "this ink is not genuine" warnings.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Lostinlodos (profile), 12 Jan 2022 @ 6:25pm

      Re:

      Brother? Oki?

      At least on the higher end models.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2022 @ 2:36pm

    I long ago gave up on ink printers. Back before DRM in ink cartridges, I used to refill my own. It would cost around $20 to refill them 6 to 8 times, that's all colored cartridges. I will never again buy an ink jet printer because of the DRM. Instead I now use a laser printer that doesn't run dry at the printer head, doesn't require more ink just to clean the heads, and over time is less expensive while being able to wait extended periods of time between prints.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2022 @ 4:52am

      Re:

      Instead I now use a laser printer that doesn't run dry at the printer head, doesn't require more ink just to clean the heads, and over time is less expensive while being able to wait extended periods of time between prints.

      I have a laser jet 4, the one with only a parallel port interface, and it still works, and has had one spell of fifteen years, at least, between prints.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Lostinlodos (profile), 12 Jan 2022 @ 6:29pm

        Re: Re:

        Laser printers are amazing when they work right.
        I have an Apple LaserWriter that still works. Parts are hell though.

        And a 2012 Samsung Xpress that’s still my default go to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 5:30pm

    SHOP SAFE?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bergman (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 5:34pm

    SHOP SAFE?

    Given the massive penalties under the proposed SHOP SAFE Act - and its new lease on life being imbedded into other legislation - how would genuine Canon cartridges registering as counterfeit play with the Act? Especially since Canon itself is apparently selling counterfeits directly?

    And how would anyone ever know the difference between a well-made fake and the real deal, without those chips?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Discuss It (profile), 11 Jan 2022 @ 7:34pm

    Dead trees

    The biggest thing to drive the paperless office are the people that sell you things to print on paper.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 12 Jan 2022 @ 1:41am

    There is another DRM

    Where you replace the Head, when you replace the ink.
    Then there is the 1 where the Ink isnt Measured, even thos is says so, ITS TIMED. And after ?? pages or 30 days of printing Anything, it Expires.

    ALSO,
    A Lawsuit went threw and CIS systems that have external INK. in OZ. is NOW LEGAL.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    vadim (profile), 12 Jan 2022 @ 4:43am

    Copyright protection circumvention

    Isn't copy protection circumvention à criminal offence in US?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2022 @ 8:14am

    may be cheaper to just get a new printer every tax season instead of new ink cartridges

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Vidiot (profile), 12 Jan 2022 @ 8:35am

    Shout out, of course, to old Mr. Gillette, who used to give away the razors to keep the suckers coming back to buy blades...

    I used to seethe every time my Canon laser printer harassed me about aftermarket/remanufactured toner cartridges... no less annoying than the inkjet thing. And then I realized how crappy the cheap cartridges had been making the print look -- streaky, dirty and all the rest. Not the self-righteous outcome I would have hoped for. Luckily, my move to full-price media coincided with a drastic drop in paper printing, and I'm resigned to buying a new set once a year.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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