28 June 2007

This is NOT Piracy

I understand that people like to call ANY threat to profits "Piracy", but this ain't it.

This is like GM chipping cans of motor oil so that only Delco cans work in your car.
Can cryptography prevent printer-ink piracy?

By Erica Ogg

Story last modified Wed Jun 27 10:37:34 PDT 2007

In the computer printer business, everyone knows the big money comes from the sale of ink cartridges.

Most of these cartridges are made by printer manufacturers and sell for a substantial premium. Some come from unauthorized sources, sell for substantially less and attract the attention of antipiracy lawyers.

Cryptography Research Inc. (CRI), a San Francisco company, is developing chip technology aimed at helping printer manufacturers protect this primary source of profit. The company's chips use cryptography designed to make it harder for printers to use off-brand and counterfeit cartridges.

"We're not saying we can end piracy, but our system is designed to recover from failure," said Kit Rodgers, CRI's vice president of business development.

Not all ink-cartridge remanufacturing is illegal--much of it is, in fact, legitimate--but pirated ink-cartridge technology cuts substantially into original manufacturers' profits.

There are three main ways the $60 billion-a-year worldwide printing industry loses money:

• Used cartridges get refilled and sold as "new"-- instead of as remanufactured.
You will note here that this will potentially block ALL non OEM cartridge remanufacturing. In fact, most non OEM remanufactured cartridges are sold as remanufactured such and are legal.

There are already laws against fraud.

• Cartridges get illegally replicated through reverse engineering.
You need to explain to me how it's illegal. Every non OEM ink manufacturer has to reverse-engineer the cartridges, and I don't see court cases, except in the case of fraudulent labeling.

• Printers get hacked or physically altered to use any type of ink.

Umm...You're telling me that my use of an ink refiller on my machine is piracy?

And here is the kicker:

In a high-profile 2003 case, Lexmark International, the company that makes printers for Dell, took printer-supplies specialist Static Control Components to court for selling a chip that allowed Lexmark printers to accept any kind of ink cartridge. Lexmark ultimately lost the case, but it hasn't stopped others from trying fiercely to protect their business.

What they are trying to do is block legal competitors to their markets.


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