HP modern printers refuse to work without ink subscription

Buyers of inkjet printers should be careful. Modern models are sold with the DRM software module. The printer will stop working if you have not paid for an ink subscription

IN unpleasant situation hit one of Twitter users Ryan Sullivan. At first, he didn’t understand what was going on: he just saw payments from HP in the Internet bank marked ‘InstantInk’ at $ 4.99 per month. Ryan did not know what these payments were for – and canceled them. And soon such a message appeared on the printer (see above).

A mechanically functioning and refilled printer simply refused to work because HP had turned it off remotely.

Ryan Sullivan says that for the first time in his life, he got into this situation. The printer seems to be there, it is working – but it does not work. He asked Twitter readers to recommend a printer model that lacks this option.

In the comments, he was explained that he was a program subscriber HP Instant Ink, which offers various “print rates”, starting with a free rate (15 pages per month). That is, you pay a fixed amount – and print as many pages as you like under the tariff, and HP is committed to supplying you with ink. In fact, for some owners this is a good offer that can save up to 50% of the amount (according to HP estimates).

HP introduced Instant Ink back in 2013. Similar programs are available with other manufacturers of inkjet printers: Epson and Canon. Consent to Subscription integrated into the installation process software. Here the user can choose a tariff plan or switch to the “traditional payment model” when you buy cartridges as they are empty. But such a model can hit your pocket a lot.

Gold Weight Gold and DRM

Ink for inkjet printers – one of the most expensive liquids on the planet.

Manufacturers of inkjet printers receive the main profit not at all from printers (which can be sold even cheaper than the cost), but due to consumables: ink and photo paper. Such a business model. A new printer with a demo cartridge is sold for some $ 70, but as soon as the ink runs out, an inexperienced buyer discovers that the new original cartridge costs $ 30-35, and the printer requires two cartridges: color and black and white.

HP explains that ink is justifiably one of the most expensive liquids on the planet, as HP spends $ 1 billion a year on research and development in the ink industry. Regular users are saved only by “counterfeit”, that is, non-original third-party cartridges at a price several times cheaper. At the same time, manufacturers are fighting fiercely with “fakes” and refillable cartridges, which supposedly print worse, reduce the life of the printer, and self-refilling is supposedly a dangerous activity.

Boomburum user’s computer after self-refilling the printer in 2009: source

While ordinary people dealt with the continuous ink supply system and learned how to refill the cartridges with their own hands, manufacturers delivered another blow – they introduced the DRM system, which recognizes unlicensed cartridges.

For example, Officjet 8610, 8615, 8620, 8625, 8630 inkjet printers with non-original HP 950/951 cartridges (950XL / 951XL) suddenly stopped working on September 12, 2016. The investigation showed that on March 12, 2016, HP released a new version of the firmware (ends with R1547A), which effectively blocked the work of older versions of the smart chip installed in the HP 950/951 cartridges (950XL / 951XL). The firmware recognizes only new versions of the smart chip, and many refilled cartridges that were sold earlier by third parties cannot work – the printer simply does not recognize them.

If the user has updated the printer firmware and uses cartridges with old smart chips, the printer displays a message: “Cartridge error”, “One or more cartridges are missing or damaged” or “Old-generation cartridge”.

HP did the right thing. It does not activate the smart chip lock immediately after installing the firmware. Then the problem would become known earlier, and many users escaped the update. No, cartridges massively failed exactly six months after the firmware was released, that is, September 12, 2016. This is the date for disabling “fake cartridges” set by the company.

The omnipresent DRM

DRM systems are gradually being introduced into the objects of the surrounding world. This way, manufacturers can already control their technology. after sales. The buyer does not become the actual owner of this equipment, but only remains by user. At least from the point of view of the manufacturer.

Creative work of students of the University of Design and Arts of Lausanne (Switzerland): chair with DRM. A sensor records every squat on a chair. After nine uses of the item, the plastic compounds melt and the chair falls apart

DRM system refers to copyright protection technology. That is, it protects intellectual property (including the filling of cars, printers, smartphones, computers) from viewing and studying by unauthorized persons, including buyers. Depriving the buyer of control over the device, the DRM module at the same time leaves such controls to the manufacturer.

As a result, ordinary users cannot independently disassemble and repair their laptop, but are forced to contact the manufacturer for this, cannot diagnose their car or fill ink in the cartridge. High-precision machines like CNC milling machines refuse to function after moving to a new place. The manufacturer equips the machine with a GPS sensor and / or gyroscope. In case of movement, the machine automatically locks until an unlock code is received. That is, the machine is “locked” to specific coordinates.

Mori NV5000A CNC router locked to specific GPS coordinates to prevent sanctions list export to countries

The manufacturer explained that this is a new requirement of American law to prevent exports to countries from the sanctions list. All future models of high-end CNC milling machines will be blocked when moving to a new location.

Or another well-known example is John Deere tractors, which are prohibited by law from self-repair: an American law called DCMA prohibits circumvention of DRM digital protection under the threat of a fine or imprisonment.

American farmer Dave Alford is studying a codebook to find out the cause of a tractor breakdown: source

All of these devices have a unique digital cryptographic lock. Initially, the DMCA law was invented to combat digital piracy to protect computer programs and DVDs, but today DRM protection is put on everything, even on cat toilets (they have to be hacked by installing modified firmware so that the toilet works after filling with ordinary water, and not “special certified fluid ”from the manufacturer).

Critics of DRM consider the idea that the owner of intellectual property can control objects of the physical world that are in someone else’s property wrong. In 2006, the Free Software Foundation launched a public campaign Defective by design against DRM.

The main objective of Defective by Design is to warn consumers who are not aware of DRM deficiencies. They are told that DRM specifically interferes with the use of human-acquired films, music, e-books, software and hardware. The proliferation of such restrictions threatens the free future of humanity, as human life is increasingly coming under the control of corporations that own intellectual property.

Some companies, responding to criticism of DRM, have begun production with the special mark ‘DRM-Free’. Even Apple has recently completely refused from using DRM (FairPlay) in music files from the iTunes catalog. True, the company did this not for ideological reasons, but because of the large number of complaints that the purchased files could not be produced on devices from manufacturers other than Apple. That is, it was more a necessary measure than a step towards the free future of mankind.

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