Sep 28 2016

Hewlett Packard Imposes Ink Cartridge DRM Requirements On Customers

image_thumb-15 Hewlett Packard Imposes Ink Cartridge DRM Requirements On Customers

A couple of years ago, I made the conscious decision to switch from using an inkjet printer to using a color laser printer simply because the ink cartridges didn’t last very long and they were very costly. When you’re using an inkjet printer you don’t know exactly how many pages you going to be able to print with that set of cartridges.

When an inkjet printer goes to its maintenance process or prepares to print when you have issues where an inkjet printer doesn’t print correctly, there’s just too many things with an inkjet printer that are unsatisfying and void.

Recently, Apple released a new iPhone 7. There was a lot of discussion about the release of the iPhone seven, especially around the fact the new phone was not going to have headphone jacks. Apple presented several reasons why the headphone jack was being taken away, but the most compelling was that there’s a lot of third parties that have devices that interface with the iPhone through the headphone jack.

The backing argument was that these third parties who want to use the iPhone headphone jack were able to do this without paying any kind of royalties. That means that Apple was missing out on a whole new revenue stream for people who wanted to interface with the iPhone. In order for Apple to get in on that business, they have to remove the headphone jack and replace it with something more proprietary; something requires royalty fees if you want to use your device with the iPhone.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that when you buy an inkjet printer, you get a baseline set of ink cartridges with it. Typically, those inkjet cartridges are not full; not in a standard way. They are kind of like a starter package.

The company who sells you the inkjet printer is fully expecting you to have to purchase a replacement set of inkjet cartridges. And as everyone knows, inkjet cartridges are very costly; just like liquid gold.

It’s hard to imagine that in some cases people are having to pay 40+ dollars for a couple of ounces of printer ink. In most cases, people can purchase all new inkjet printers, getting new cartridges, and still come out ahead.

The inkjet printer manufacturers and the people who provide the cartridges for those printers created the solution market for alternative printer ink providers; off brands and ink cartridge refills. Customers can get ink cartridge refills at a fraction of the cost of a name brand cartridge that’s brand-new.

Well, HP [Hewlett-Packard] is done with that. HP released a security [DRM] update for their HP inkjet printers about six months ago that recently went into effect [by timer] that forces the printer to authenticate that the ink cartridges that are being used are only from Hewlett-Packard.

That’s right. You cannot use inkjet cartridges with Hewlett-Packard that are off-brand or product refills.

I think it’s fair to say that HP has had a revelation that they feel like if you’re going to use their printers, you have to use their ink cartridges because that’s where they’re going get their money; on replacement cartridges. It’s kind of the same thought process as Apple.

From a consumer perspective, this is fairly underhanded and deceiving.

Ink cartridge refills have been available for years and they have their own industry. Hewlett-Packard has clearly seen that they’re missing out on money from ink cartridges and simply decided to seize upon it. From a business perspective, I think HP had to do this because their revenue stream has been dropping.

All this hasn’t been without a formal response. The EFF [Electronic Foundation Frontier] has had a formal response to HP’s changes and has issued five steps for them.

image_thumb-16 Hewlett Packard Imposes Ink Cartridge DRM Requirements On Customers

The EFF has created a petition for people to sign if you want to join in efforts on trying to change HP’s mind.

The next time you go to buy an inkjet cartridge, I guess your next question is going to have to be, “does this printer accept ink cartridge refills?”

If you have any thoughts or opinions on this, let me know in the comments below…

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