Printer Manufacturers Turn to Cryptography

It's no secret that printer manufacturers such as HP, Canon, Lexmark, and the rest of the crowd sell their printers for little to no profit in order to attract initial buyers. The real profit comes from the sales of ink cartridges that can, sometimes, be sold for 50% of the cost of the entire printer itself.

In recent years, however, "ink piracy" has become a thorn in the side of printer manufacturers as they lose almost $3 billion a year to illegal ink cartridges (refilled cartridges sold as new, reverse engineered cartridges, and printers modified to accept any cartridge). In an effort to fight back, Cryptography Research Inc, (CRI) has stepped in with a chip that would require the user to use only manufacturer sanctioned ink cartridges in their printers.

Of course, any kind of digital protection is going to be attacked by the thousands of highly skilled hackers out there. To help combat this issue, the chip, called CryptoFirewall, will generate an individual code for each and every ink cartridge meaning would be hackers would have to crack each new cartridge manufactured. CRI admits that it's system won't completely eradicate ink piracy, but that the "system is designed to recover from failure".

News source: CNET

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Using a 3rd party cart does NOT automagically invalidate your warranty. Companies tried to deny warranty on printers in the past becuase of that and they got their butts sued. They highly suggest that you of course use their carts, but they cannot void your warranty for using a 3rd party cart. Maybe if the cart itself directly contributed to the printer failure, but we have had customers using our 3rd party Epson carts for years and years, not a single one was denied warranty when their printer pooped out on them. They took the printer to the local and only Epson authorized service center with the 3rd party carts still in the printer. (We did suggest they put the original carts back in just in case). They still got warranty work done, even with the center B&M'ing over the 3rd party carts. I am not sure if Lexmar, Canon or HP do the same. Don't know/care, don't sell carts for those.

I never print colour these days anyway. I use photo developers for my photos and b&w for receipts. When my old HP runs out next time I'm buying a cheapy refillable Samung Laser.

since when is refilling cartridges illegal? heck Staples does it! they take in your old ones, recycle them into new ones and sell them as generic...


You buy a car, but now you have to buy specific tires that the manufacturer makes.

You buy a flashlight, but the batteries have to be bought from the manufacturer and be made by them (or a licensee.)

I'm sure if they could put these chips on paper, we'd have to buy that from them too. Load of ^&~!@*#.

Ink prices from printer manufacturers are extortion. It's cheaper for me to pay by the page at my University on the high quality printers than buy cartridges for my own anymore.

But you see, the trick to getting that perception into the minds of consumers is repeating it over and over again in the media. The more often people hear the lie, the more likely they are to believe it. That's the same way that he word "hacker" became demonized back in the 80's and 90's.

Ohhh! Maybe run SNES emulator on the printer! :cheeky:
Mine has a little (1.5"?) lcd on it! talk about a multifunction printer >.>

What's next? Scanners that detect illegal unlicensed ink used on printed documents via nano-machines in the ink?

One thing that just popped into my head: razors.

Buy one 'starter' pack for a reasonable price, maybe $8 for the arm and two blades (i have gotten some free in the mail also), then spend another $8-10 on 3-5 blades each time...and there arent really any generic alternatives to buy new blades for your current razor....

'give them the razer, sell them the blades'

Once I buy the printer the ownership of the printer is 100% mine, not 98% or 99.9999%, 100% mine. The choice to use any ink cartrodges, is the printer owners decision.

The manufacture of the printer has no decision in my choice who or where I purchase ink cartridges from.

Ink piracy? omfg.

Why hasn't the government done something about this BS? I would gladly pay a higher price for the printer if it meant not having to pay a fortune for ink cartridges; especially when they are not even half full like Epson sells, and programmed to report themselves as being "out of ink" long before they really are. If anything is illegal it should be what these companies are doing. How can you pirate ink anyway? STUPID.

It's just a bunch of BS like where HP had those freshness dates on thier cartridges that would quit working on a certain day. They got sued for that and I see a lawsuit in the future for this as well.

I hate that I can't just enjoy technology purchases anymore, thanks to greedy businesses.

I was thinking of buying a PC game today (Call of Duty), but I had to start asking myself "Will it be hindered with DRM?"

If I want a new video card, it will cost more to support HDCP for videos I have no intention of watching (I didn't buy a DVD drive until 2005, and even then only to store data)

I refuse to buy a new printer until someone shows me one as cheap to feed as my 1996-model LaserJet 5.

Hak Foo said,
I refuse to buy a new printer until someone shows me one as cheap to feed as my 1996-model LaserJet 5.
Now that was a printer!

Look the news source: CNET. They're not known as... that fair journalism. Really great chances to be a column written based on company release.

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