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When it comes to modern technological conveniences, there are a number of things that irritate people above all others: unhelpful error messages, dead batteries, and cumbersome digital rights management What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] What Is DRM & Why Does It Exist If It's So Evil? [MakeUseOf Explains] Digital Rights Management is the latest evolution of copy protection. It’s the biggest cause of user frustration today, but is it justified? Is DRM a necessary evil in this digital age, or is the model... Read More (DRM).

A company that puts DRM in place on their products is very clearly telling consumers that their freedoms will be sacrificed so that corporate execs can make more money — and consumers don’t tend to react very well to this message.

Keurig is the most recent company to learn this lesson the hard way.

Keurig: Hero to Zero

Keurig had the misfortune of being in the news over the past few months for their attempt to add a form of DRM to their coffee makers. In previous versions of the Keurig machine, you put in a small plastic cup that contains coffee grounds, called a K-cup, into the machine. You press a button, wait a moment, and then you have a cup of coffee. It doesn’t get easier (especially for caffeine addicts like me, who don’t generally go for really high-quality coffee Buy This: The Greatest Gear For Making Awesome Coffee Buy This: The Greatest Gear For Making Awesome Coffee If your coffee tastes like crap, you're doing it wrong. Great coffee doesn't have to be expensive. Read More ).

But with the introduction of the Keurig 2.0, a new step was added: before the machine brews your coffee, it scans the K-cup to make sure that a special code has been printed on it—if it doesn’t see the code, it won’t brew. And who’s the only company who can put that code on the cup? Keurig.

keurig-2

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Before the 2.0, there were a number of third-party companies who also made cups that were compatible with Keurig machines. They offered different kinds of coffee, and, most importantly, were cheaper. Brands like San Francisco Bay and Mother Parker’s could be purchased and used in the Keurig machine without a problem.

That’s all changed now. Because those third-party cups don’t have the code, the machine won’t brew with them. It displays an error message, and the user needs to put in a Keurig-produced or -licensed cup. Keurig says that it’s so the machine can use the proper temperature for each coffee, but few seem convinced by that argument.

keurig-reviews

Unsurprisingly, people were not very happy. A quick look at the Amazon reviews for the Keurig 2.0 makes it pretty clear how people feel about the DRM: “no value in this machine at all,” “stay away from mandated K-cups,” “hate that you can ONLY use the K-packs,” and other similar comments dominate. Of 603 reviews, a full 233 of them give it only one star. Many people said they would have returned it if they hadn’t received it as a gift (if you were considering giving a Keurig, consider one of these great coffee-related gifts 7 Gift Ideas Under $150 For Coffee Lovers 7 Gift Ideas Under $150 For Coffee Lovers Read More instead).

And it’s not just the Amazon reviews that are taking a hit — Keurig reported a 12% decrease in brewer sales last quarter. And while the vast majority of their profit comes from the cups, and not the brewers, a 12% hit is a big one. Keurig says that getting 2.0-compatible cups onto store shelves faster would’ve helped, but the consumer reaction is clear: “we hate DRM.”

Not the First

Of course, Keurig isn’t the first company to anger its customers with DRM. Amazon’s Kindle books have been the target of a lot of vitriol over the past few years, and people have gotten really good at removing the DRM from Kindle books How To Break The DRM On Kindle eBooks So You Can Enjoy Them Anywhere How To Break The DRM On Kindle eBooks So You Can Enjoy Them Anywhere When you pay Amazon some money for a Kindle eBook, you probably think it’s yours now. I mean, you paid some money, you got some content, and now you have it, just like any other... Read More . Still, if you aren’t aware that it’s an option, you’ll likely be stuck with Kindle DRM. Printer companies have been doing it for a long time, too — they make a ton of money It's More Expensive Than Blood: How To Squeeze More Ink Out Of Your Printer It's More Expensive Than Blood: How To Squeeze More Ink Out Of Your Printer Although things are getting better (some printer manufacturers have radically reduced the cost of ink) as far as the owners of many sub-$100 printers are concerned, the price of ink is staggeringly close to the... Read More when you buy their ink, so they make it hard to refill cartridges and try to keep third-party ink producers from making compatible cartridges (with some success).

printer-cartridges

And just about every streaming service, from Netflix to Spotify, has some sort of DRM in place, or they’d go out of business because everyone would download their media and cancel their subscription. Unfortunately, a lot of software DRM actually constitutes a threat to digital security Is DRM A Threat To Computer Security? Is DRM A Threat To Computer Security? Read More .

Some companies, though, were so impressed by the backlash of their customers that they decided to cancel their DRM plans. Look at Xbox One, for example. When it was first announced 5 Biggest Video Game Industry Blunders In 2013 5 Biggest Video Game Industry Blunders In 2013 Designing, developing and supporting a title that goes beyond anything seen before isn’t easy, and it often leads to spectacular failure. Read More , Microsoft stated that the console would have to connect to the Internet once every 24 hours, even if it was only used to play offline disc-based games, that publishers would have control over whether or not their games could be resold, and that restrictions would be put in place over who could give and loan games to other people.

Xbox users were, to put it mildly, outraged. Shortly after this announcement was made, Microsoft admitted its mistake and removed the DRM built into the Xbox One. Unfortunately, few companies have been as understanding and consumer-oriented as Microsoft when it comes to DRM.

A Lesson for Companies Considering DRM

If you’re familiar with the story of the Keurig DRM, you’ll know that a workaround was found very quickly. Not only is it incredibly easy, but it also makes the DRM guys at Keurig look pretty stupid. All you have to do is tape a used K-cup cover over the sensor so it reads the 2.0-compatible code no matter which cup is in the brewer. Which means you can use the Keurig 2.0 with any cup you want, as long as you’ve used one 2.0 cup and saved the lid.

Kindle DRM, though pervasive, is a bit of a joke. The DRM originally used for Blu-Ray discs was cracked quickly. A number of people claim to have broken iTunes and Netflix rights management. And Keurig’s DRM has been countered with a single piece of tape.

No matter how hard companies try to lock us down, there are always people out there who are faster, smarter, and more adaptable.

When consumers buy a product, they don’t want to be told how they should use it. They’re even less inclined to listen when they’re told that how they have to use it. Keurig learned this lesson the hard way, and they’ve taken a pretty significant financial hit because of it. Not only that, but they looked pretty foolish when the workaround spread around the Internet.

There’s an important lesson for tech companies here. We’re willing to give you our money, but not our freedom. If we buy a product, we expect to own it, not to lease, rent, or borrow it. We want to use things in any way we please—and we’ll find a way to make sure that we can. You can either set your company up as a hero and support our freedoms, or as a villain that we’ll continually battle against.

Seems like a pretty easy choice to me.

Image credits: digital printing press via Shutterstock.

  1. Bryan Elliott
    February 28, 2015 at 2:37 am

    Implementation.

    The difficulty is the "compression-resistant" part. Any steganography implementation used for watermarking needs to be able to withstand recompression for video, audio and images, down to a significant reduction in quality.

    I've been working on it as a side thing for a while, and there's a couple of basic ways to do it. One way to improve fidelity is to make the data as small as possible and to use erasure codes over a finite field; this lets you repeat the data a large number of times and in smaller pieces that can be more easily hidden.

    Another is to map it in at various resolutions - for example, if you reduce an image's size to 16x16 pixels, there should still be enough data there in which to hide your message (4 pixels for each bit).

    Another is to make use of sound psychology - that is, if you have two tones playing at (X-1)Hz and (X+1)Hz at half volume, and one tone playing at XHz 90 degrees out of phase pulsing its volume from 0-100% at 2Hz, it'll be effectively silent to a human ear, but the encoder will be forced to store it (since it's a lot of total energy).

    Another method is noise coding. See this puzzle for a clear explanation - (https://ocfnash.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/yet-another-prisoner-puzzle/). It's a way to store log2(n) bits in any n bits. In our case, the bits aren't real bits, but some predictable pattern in the encoder's artifacts. If we can then force any of those "bits" to flip - force an artifact one way or another in a consistent fashion - we can hide data there.

    Yet another method is hiding-in-code. In XML and all related markup languages, there are ambiguities in the spec that allow for data hiding. The order of attributes, as an example. For every tag, the set of attributes on it can be in any order; so by misordering them from a chosen base order - say, alphanumeric ascending - we can store up to log2(n!) bits for each tag containing n attributes. Also, you can store an additional n bits for each tag's attributes preceding whitespace; 1 space is a 0, 2 spaces is a 1. Trailing whitespace is also an opportunity; everything but the pre tag folds multiple spaces into a single space, so you can effectively store one bit per line. CSS and Javascript have similar opportunity sets.

    Of course, each of these is work, and as a side project, it's slow-going. But it seems to me that it's worth doing.

    • Dann Albright
      March 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      Wow! you've obviously given this a huge amount of thought. I'm not technically knowledgeable enough to make any sort of judgment on what you say in this comment here, but it definitely sounds like a viable option to me. I hope that your side project continues on well, and that you can convince some people that it's an idea worth pursuing. Thanks for pitching in here—I learned a lot!

  2. Bryan Elliott
    February 26, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    > That sounds like something that would go over well with manufacturers, but not so much with consumers.

    Possibly. Typically you don't tell your consumers about every random bit of metadata, and the data shouldn't contain any specific information about the consumer that would raise privacy concerns - it would be a unique ID to an order, which would need to be looked up. Moreover, its representation in the stegtext would be one of a number of erasure codes - never a clearly visible ID.

    "But do you think that a case could be upheld? What if the person who distributes content just claims that it was stolen?"

    I'd think there'd have to be a mechanism for the theft, at least. If you've also pulled down the DHT data on the torrent for the content in question and identified the person's seed (now more easily narrowed, as you have a geographic location for the original buyer), it would be a much stronger case than current IP-based copyright infringement cases against consumers - and better, you'd actually be attacking the source of the infringement, rather than one of the random consumers of it.

    Even if a CRS tag alone weren't enough to make a case, it would be enough to know who to focus on to demonstrate infringement. One instance of the CRS tag being found in the wild from a particular person could be theft, but several over time is a different story. You wouldn't even need a person to do this; just have a bot download whatever the latest torrents are for the day, pull out the CRS tags, and trigger an alert to the legal department whenever a particular agent has more than X tags found in the wild. They can decide the value and severity of the infringement, and whether it's worth action.

    • Dann Albright
      February 27, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      Well, you've certainly convinced me. That seems like a really manageable way to find out who's illegally distributing content while still allowing people to share their files between their various devices, and even within their families. It seems pretty fair to both consumers and manufacturers. Is there anything standing in the way of using a system like this? It seems pretty simple.

  3. Bryan Elliott
    February 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    There is a simple solution to all of this, at least with digital media: compression-resistant steganography. Steganogrpahy is, essentially, data hiding. E-books typically come in at about 200k to several megs - there's plenty of space to hide, say, a 64-bit order identifier. In fact, there's space to hide the same data a number of times. Using erasure coding, and by tuning your hiding to the various types of compression involved, we can ensure the integrity of the data; by using multiple hiding vectors (since an e-book is, essentially, a zip file containing a bunch of W3C documents), you can prevent the total removal of the hidden data.

    So, essentially, what I'm describing is a type of strong, invisible watermarking.

    What's the value of this? If an IP-protected piece of content finds its way into the wild, the original owner can be held accountable - this kind of accountability is presently missing from the IP landscape, and its consequences are the motivation for DRM in the first place. Add CRS to technology, and the need for DRM - and for pissing off your customers goes away.

    • Dann Albright
      February 26, 2015 at 8:35 am

      I've never heard of CRS—that's a really interesting idea! That sounds like something that would go over well with manufacturers, but not so much with consumers. I would think that many people would find it a bit too Big Brother-like. I'm not sure, though . . . it does provide accountability.

      But do you think that a case could be upheld? What if the person who distributes content just claims that it was stolen? Is there any way to prove that's not true?

  4. Martin
    February 25, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Man if you hate the Keurig DRM what must you think of Tassimo. They just branded their DRM into their ads and people lined up to buy it.

    • Dann Albright
      February 25, 2015 at 10:11 am

      I hadn't seen any Tassimo ads until I went out to look for them after reading your comment. That was pretty brave of them! Maybe if Keurig had tried to brand it as a good thing it would have gone over better, even though it would have accomplished exactly the same thing.

  5. Andrew Jordan
    February 24, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    Our first Keurig stopped working at 14 months. It looked very repairable but Keurig said no and only thing to do was throw it away. Gave us a $50 gift certicate to a new one. So machine at $200 less $50 = $150 or about $10 a month. Looked on line and hundreds of similar complaints. Beware

    • Dann Albright
      February 25, 2015 at 10:10 am

      I hadn't heard of that particular experience, but thanks for sharing it. Things not being repairable is a big pain in the ass, especially if you're going ot be out $150 after it breaks.

  6. InezbyDesign
    February 24, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Have not bought a replacement Keurig for this very reason! Went back to my french press.

    • Dann Albright
      February 25, 2015 at 10:09 am

      If enough people follow your example, I think Keurig will be forced to reconsider their stance on DRM. Here's hoping we see a big change in the 3.0.

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. Jim
    February 24, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Yeah I think your best option is just to buy a different one cup brewer. There are a couple out there already and I bet there will be more by Christmas now that pod patents have been expired for a couple of years. Since I can't see why any company that makes coffee makers would leave this market to Keurig that's the most likely thing that will kill DRM for pods.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:44 pm

      That seems like a really good option to me. I haven't done much looking around for one, but I'll probably be moving in the next six months or so to a more permanent residence, so maybe I'll start the search for a non-Keurig single-cup maker. Good call!

  8. David
    February 24, 2015 at 4:49 am

    Dann, I totally agree with you about DRM, but did not even mention the first violator -- Apple Computer, Inc.! They have been doing it ever since 2001 when iTunes was released. I really hate DRM in my iTunes digital content. I want to have the portability and privacy to take my digital files anywhere on any device and not have to be limited by Apple as to how many devices I can share my digital content. I cannot imagine how you did not even mention Apple. Also, you should have mentioned that consumers have become increasingly pacified into accepting Apple's DRM through Apple's dominance in the marketplace.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:13 am

      Apple has been mentioned several times in the comments on this article, and I agree—Apple has a very heavy hand when it comes to deciding what their products can use and be used for. Unfortunately, I think that's part of what makes the company (and its products) what it is. I seriously doubt that Apple will have any reason to change, precisely because of the reason you mentioned: market dominance.

      But who knows? Maybe if we're loud enough we can even spark a change in the almighty Apple!

    • Randall Wright
      February 25, 2015 at 6:24 pm

      Apple has not been "almighty" for that long. Apple does not have DRM on iTunes songs and has not had any for years. They didn't want to have it in the first place, but had to do so to get record companies to agree to this new idea of online music purchases. Such a concept did not exist in the legal realm and it was a tough sell to create at all. The "DRM" for iOS apps (I assume you mean only purchasable from the official app store) is so they can check them for security and other issues. I prefer that protection as opposed to the "freedom" to download any malware without notice or oversight in the Android arena. You are free to jailbreak (pretty much a one click deal) your iOS device and install anything from anywhere at your own risk. If you're speaking of the Mac app store, you can get things there ... or not. You can install anything from anywhere and will just be given a warning if a specific program has not been signed by a known author - a warning you can bypass at will with a right click, open anyway.

  9. Jim
    February 24, 2015 at 2:11 am

    Yeah the question is if Keurig is backing off or are they just going to ride it out? The article doesn't address this. A 12% loss in current sales doesn't mean anything if they are still going to keep the DRM. If they retain it then it may very well still squeeze out the third party suppliers or at least make them pay a license fee. Most people don't break DRM. They don't know enough or care enough. A primary reason they buy a Keurig is simplicity. They want to buy pods that work without them thinking about it.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:11 am

      At this point, I don't think anyone knows. 12% is a notable hit, but as a previous commenter pointed out, it's not huge. It got the company's attention, but will that be enough? We'll have to wait and see.

      We probably won't find out for a while, but I'm hopeful. There's a very clear consumer backlash against this sort of thing, so hopefully they listen to it.

      As for people not knowing or caring enough to break the DRM, that's true—most people won't do it, and the desire for simplicity in getting a cup of coffee in the morning is the reason. But third-party K-cups can also be cheaper, and that can add up, especially for people who drink a lot of coffee. So hopefully enough people can be convinced to voice their opinions about DRM in order to make it easier to just get the coffee they want.

  10. Ron
    February 24, 2015 at 1:56 am

    I'm surprised people are still talking about Apple's DRM in iTunes, when they removed that years ago.

  11. John Williams
    February 24, 2015 at 1:41 am

    DRM is just an invitation to hack past it and carry on regardless. Apple's pentalobe screws were hacked in a very short time frame. Many printer cartridges have chip resetters available. You can even hack your car these days.

    The point with this coffee maker though is convenience and disposability. The machine is probably very hard to dismantle to repair it - even if you could get the parts. The cups are use and trash. It's a pity the barcode doesn't follow the cup all the way to landfill. Then they could count 'em and fine the company for excessive waste.

    It would be good if at some point this continuous churn of buying short lived stuff and then trashing it is going to hit a backlash from a public sick of all the waste.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:08 am

      Keurig and third-party K-cup manufacturers have definitely responded to the wide range of environmental concerns over their products, and a lot of the K-cups are now recyclable. And Keurig aims to have a 100% recyclable K-cup by 2020 (which isn't very soon, but at least it's on their radar).

      Using a Keurig with recyclable cups likely generates more waste than traditional coffee makers, but there's always a cost to convenience.

      As for consumers switching away from shorter-lived products, I hope you're right . . . but I'm not holding my breath. We've been taken hook, line, and sinker with planned obsolescence, and few people seem very bothered.

      Thanks for your comment!

  12. Bud
    February 24, 2015 at 1:34 am

    everytime ***

    • Dann Albright
      February 25, 2015 at 10:08 am

      You know, I was wondering what you were saying with "overtime." Now it makes a lot more sense. :-)

  13. Bud
    February 24, 2015 at 1:34 am

    All of this to have 1 cup of coffee? I’ll stay with my inexpensive 4-cup Mr. Coffee machine and brew my 1-lb. bags of Dunkin Donut coffee that makes a great cup overtime !!!

  14. r castenholz
    February 24, 2015 at 1:06 am

    Many years ago, my boss stated a corollary to this:
    the pig gets fed, the hog gets slaughtered.

    you can be a little piggy, but become a hog and... well you get it!

  15. Godel
    February 24, 2015 at 12:09 am

    HP printers used to have region locking on their inkjet printer cartridges.
    If you bought a completely original HP cartridge in southern Asia, it wouldn't work when you plugged it into an Australian HP printer.

    This is one of the reasons I've avoided inkjet printers and bought a B&W laser instead.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:04 am

      Region-locking on ink cartridges is something I hadn't heard of yet . . . that's infuriating! I hate region-locked anything, and printer cartridges is just taking it too far. Good call on going with a laser printer.

      Thanks for pointing this out!

  16. Devils Trumpet
    February 23, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    I would have hoped that the company suffered a greater impact than a 12% hit.I'm not anti-corporate by any means,I'm a retired business owner,but until more end users,regardless of the product,use their power of purchase and refrain from buying the company's product until an issue is addressed,companies will continue to force the consumer to only use their product by such means.See Apple and Microsoft for examples of that practice.Market demand can be a powerful thing,that's something all industry understands.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:04 am

      You're right—power of purchase is the way to go here. Unfortunately, Keurig dominates the market, which means a lot of people probably don't even think about other options. "Keurig" is probably on its way to joining Kleenex and Rollerblade as brand names that stand for a certain type of product.

      It will be very interesting to see what happens in future revenue reports. A 12% drop in brewer sales isn't huge, but it sure got the notice of the company. And because I'm sure they thought 100% of K-cup sales would be Keurig-produced or -licensed, the fact that so many people can use third-party cups now will also throw a wrench into their projections.

      Thanks for your comment!

  17. Celeste
    February 23, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    I figured out a hack within the first week that I had my Keurig 2.0. Not a big deal.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:16 am

      Plenty of people solved the problem early in the days of their Keurig . . . but that's not the point. The point is that they had to in the first place. What if the Keurig 3.0 has a system that can't be overcome? Would it still not be a big deal? Or what if the next car you buy could only be filled at Exxon-owned service stations? Would that be a big deal?

      The Keurig DRM itself was super easy to bypass, but DRM is a nefarious practice, and it's hard to predict where it will strike next.

  18. Kevin
    February 23, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Personally I don't think ANY company that uses DRM in any way shape or form has the right to exist and we the consumers should stand as one against them and see to it that they fail. Only then will we be free of this invasion. Sadly there are far more idiots with money then common sense or pride and self worth. What people don't understand is DRM (no matter how it is applied) affects every single person and all these issues, no matter how they are presented impose laws that we will all be guilty of in one way or another, despite our good intentions!

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:01 am

      DRM is certainly a divisive issue, and I think you're right that the only way we're going to ensure fair usage of it is to support companies who produce DRM-free products. There isn't really an option other than voting with our wallets, as DRM seems to have solid legal protection. Hopefully we see more people who are willing to take a stand!

  19. dragonmouth
    February 23, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    " Unfortunately, few companies have been as understanding and consumer-oriented as Microsoft when it comes to DRM."
    Please, Dann, "consumer-oriented Microsoft" is an oxymoron. Back in the last millenium, when computer clubs were for tinkerers and ideas and code ware exchanged freely, it was Bill Gates who demanded that he be paid for his code. Let us not forget also that it is Microsoft that insists that it owns any software they published in perpetuity, and that it was M$ that started the one copy/one machine business model. I would not call that "understanding and consumer-oriented" especially when contrasted with Linux.

    • Dann Albright
      February 25, 2015 at 10:08 am

      Okay, so their actions in the last millenium and how they treat their software might qualify as "consumer-oriented" for you. But they did go back on what they said they were going to do with the Xbox One, and that's what I'm talking about here. I didn't make any statements about Microsoft as a whole (or I certainly wasn't trying to). The fact that they backed off on DRM on the Xbox after a widespread outcry is notable in this instance, though, especially as DRM becomes more common.

  20. gecko
    February 23, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Oh yes Dann it sure takes third party cups. But only the coffee kind. LOL.

    Nestle is the inventor, back in 1980, of the one size portion. I use a mix of the Ethical Coffee Company and Nespresso cups. When you also get the Aeroccino you will havet a pretty good cappuccino too.

    Enjoy!

    • Dennis
      February 23, 2015 at 11:14 pm

      The Freedom Clip is free and the company sends you some free coffee too. The clip is super easy to install and the coffee is good too. What's to lose?

      Enjoy and laugh at Keurig.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm

      I didn't realize that the Freedom Clip is free. Now that I type that sentence, it seems a bit ridiculous. But that's great news! Hopefully they get a lot of people doing business with them for that.

      Thanks for pointing that out!

  21. gecko
    February 23, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Apparently there is also a Freedom Clip which the Rogers Family Coffee provides.

    Anyway it is all moot for me. As I use a Nespresso machine. Nestle never went down the DRM road. They just sued (and lost) other manufactures who sold cups which fitted the Nespresso machines.

    • Dann Albright
      February 23, 2015 at 11:15 am

      I've seen the Freedom Clip, but I haven't looked too closely at it. It seems a bit ridiculous to pay for something when you can find videos all over YouTube about how to complete the hack in a few minutes for free.

      So the Nespresso machine still takes a lot of third-party cups? I'm not very familiar with the Nespresso. If it doesn't have any DRM, though, I might consider getting one, just to show my support for DRM-free coffee!

  22. Ed S.
    February 23, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Rock on! Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment. Regards!

  23. Ed S.
    February 23, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Thank you so much for this article! I've been battling with DRM infestation for almost a decade now. Mostly in software, but not only. The world is OPEN! Why can't we produce OPEN content? Much offence to all companies that include any form of DRM with their products, if I buy something, I should be allowed to OWN it!

    • Dann Albright
      February 23, 2015 at 8:28 am

      I'm glad you liked the article! DRM is infuriating, especially when it comes to hardware. Hopefully the call for a DRM-free (or at least MORE DRM-free) ecosystem prevails.

      Thanks for reading!

  24. Michael
    February 23, 2015 at 1:09 am

    Taken to it's logical end, someday people may need to purchase a license to read a book.

    • coffeek
      February 23, 2015 at 2:58 am

      Or even read comments on news articles such as this..

    • Dann Albright
      February 23, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Well, a lot of e-books are really leases, and not outright purchases, so we're closer to that than it may seem.

  25. False God
    February 22, 2015 at 10:58 pm

    "If we buy a product, we expect to own it, not to lease, rent, or borrow it"

    That's my opinion also. It's a shame that MS, Adobe and others are moving in that direction now. I'll shed tears if they ever make acheive any lasting success with it.

    • Greg F
      February 23, 2015 at 2:59 am

      The younger generation has grown up with paying for the right-to-use rather then full ownership and they don't seem to see any problem with it. I'm too old school to accept it.

      To me, the biggest problem is the price that is charged now just for the right-to-use compared to what a company had to do to sell you their product for full ownership--the price has not come down, even gone up, yet often nothing physical is produced, often nothing physical is shipped to a store or to the consumer, often there is no store to rent, furnish, heat, light, staff, etc. Oh, and they get litigious if you share or break the DRM.

      Drives me crazy to see the prices of Bluray sets of old TV shows and movies. Someone DECADES ago created some "content" and made their money & profit. Then they sold it again in syndication and made more pure profit. Then out on Beta and VHS for more profit. Then DVD, then Bluray, now streaming and still more profit. Don't forget the anniversary editions. THEN they REMAKE the show/movie because they can't think of anything original and start the cycle all over again. The writers, directors, actors, editors, etc are all likely dead or senile and yet the media mega-corp is still making profit of some old TV show or movie.

      My cable company is now selling "Crave TV"--a whole station of old TV shows for another $4 per month! NUTS!

    • Dann Albright
      February 23, 2015 at 8:26 am

      Unfortunately, it looks like you might be tearing up sooner rather than later. While it irritates consumers, DRM does seem like it's working, especially when companies are the only ones selling a particular item. I hope you're right, though—hopefully consumer reaction helps show companies that as soon as we're given a non-DRM option, we'll take it!

    • Dann Albright
      February 23, 2015 at 6:41 pm

      Greg, I know what you mean. It seems like prices should have come down. I'm sure someone reading this article can explain it to us. As far as I know, it's some nebulous combination of inflation, research, licensing, and increased profits. Hopefully someone can enlighten us further!

    • Bud
      February 24, 2015 at 1:38 am

      Same goes for Apple and trying to download software from a site that APPLE does NOT recognize or approve of. NOW that is the classic example of “GREED IS GOOD!!!"

  26. John
    February 22, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    DRM? What about the landfill issue? Lazy people!!!

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      If I remember correctly (and I might not; correct me if I'm wrong) K-cups have been recyclable for quite a while now; you just take out the grounds and filter from the pod and recycle the pod. The grounds and filter can be composted or thrown away, but they're both biodegradable.

      So if I understand correctly, those "lazy people" aren't really contributing to a "landfill issue."

    • dragonmouth
      February 22, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      " K-cups have been recyclable for quite a while now; you just take out the grounds and filter from the pod and recycle the pod."
      Let's be real. How many people are going to take the time to disassemble the K-Cup so they can recycle it? People use K-Cups because they are convenient. Disassembling it is not convenient. It's easier just to pitch them into the garbage.

    • Greg F
      February 23, 2015 at 2:49 am

      No, I don't think they are designed to be recyclable. Some of the third party cup makers (like Marley Coffee) make cups that are at least partially recyclable. I think Keurig has said they are working on something but not planning on having it out for a couple of years. Melitta has a K-cup that has very little plastic, I think.

      I don't think the foil lid can be recycled by most city blue box programs and who is going to carefully peel that off, dump the filter and grounds into the compost and then recycle the plastic K-cup. The waste of these cups is just shocking. I can't believe people admit in public that they have and use one of these machines!

      People should try the drip machine style single cup brewers--Black and Decker has a 1-cup drip maker that my sister insists on using to satisfy her caffeine addiction--she even travels with it! Comes with a travel mug too. Hamilton Beach makes a nice unit too with 2 permanent metal coffee filters/baskets so that a couple can make their two cups in a row quicker.

      Of course, people could use instant coffee or switch to Tea! ;-)

    • Lauren
      February 23, 2015 at 5:37 am

      My French press works just fine, makes one cup if that's all I want, and doesn't send plastic into the landfill. K-cups aren't recyclable and they are so wasteful. They're also fairly expensive per cup when compared to a bag of coffee.

    • Dann Albright
      February 23, 2015 at 7:44 am

      dragonmouth, if the issue isn't with the Keurig itself, but the people who use it not making enough effort to be publicly considered "environmentally friendly," I don't find that to be a good argument against Keurigs. I have very limited experience with Keurigs, but the people who I know that use one (which certainly isn't a representative sample) found it pretty easy to just take the top off and toss it in the recycling.

    • Dann Albright
      February 23, 2015 at 7:46 am

      Greg, I went out looking for more information, and it looks like you're right about the third-party cups being recyclable, but not the Keurig brand cups. And Keurig has committed to having 100% recyclable cups by 2020. It looks like Keurig is pretty serious about getting to the point where it satisfies people who complain about the amount of waste the machines generate: http://www.keuriggreenmountain.com/en/Sustainability/Overview.aspx .

  27. Travis George
    February 22, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Yeah I just want one cup of coffee in the morning... Soooooo.....

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm

      Yeah, that's what I love about the Keurig. It's really easy to make a single cup of whatever kind of coffee or tea you want, and then if you want to have another cup, you just make it. You don't have to try to estimate beforehand and waste grounds. It has some issues, but it's a fantastic machine!

  28. Dee
    February 22, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Meanwhile, I'm just cruisin' along with my Mr. Coffee 12-cup coffeemaker. All is well. =-)

  29. Joe
    February 22, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    The real test will be when the Kuerig 3.0 comes out. Will they remove the requirement to only use their K-cups or will they make it harder to circumvent?

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      I had that thought too. It'll be really interesting to see! I'm hoping they remove it to set a precedent for companies. They made a mistake, took a hit in sales, and now they have a chance to correct it. Hopefully they take it.

    • gzuckier
      February 24, 2015 at 9:39 am

      for the 3.0 it'll be licensed to the individual purchaser, and you'll have to do a fingerprint check to ensure you're authorized.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:43 pm

      Haha—I sincerely hope that's not the case. :-)

      Though you may not be too far off . . .

  30. Oswaldo
    February 22, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    I'd love to keep my current printer for say, five or even ten years. But, what happens when the manufacturer stops making cartridges?

    Planned obsolescence... that's part of the problem. I want to be able to use my ink cartridges over and over, as much as I can. Otherwise, I will end up buying the printer a couple times over on new ink alone.

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Planned obsolescence is infuriating, and you're right that DRM can play a part in it. I've been lucky enough to be able to print from various university campuses over the past few years, but I'm sure I'll have to buy a printer soon. I'm really not looking forward to it!

  31. elise
    February 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    I loved the original and got the 2 because of the carafe. I was really disappointed when I found out I couldn't use the generic cup. It truly is wrong. They have a selection for oz. so that is not really the reason for DRM. Besides, I've noticed my drinks are not as hot as the original brewer.
    I do wish the video actually showed the process because I thought and tried doing this process but messed up so many times I gave up.

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      If you want to find a video of the hack, you can run a quick search on YouTube—there are a lot of different videos that people have put together showing you how to do it.

      It's interesting that you say that your drinks aren't as hot—I haven't heard anyone else say that. I wonder if there's an issue with the K-cup-specific temperature on the 2.0

      Thanks for reading!

  32. dragonmouth
    February 22, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    I make coffee by the pot in an old style percolator. It is much cheaper than the teeny-tiny K-cups and nobody has yet figured out how to put DRM on a bag of unground coffee. :-)

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:52 pm

      I'm sure somebody's working on it. :-)

  33. Oswaldo
    February 22, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Well said. I still have one of those Epson printers that don't allow third party cartridges... I'm dumping it as soon as I finish off its last ink.

    I would understand DRM better if their companies stated clearly that they're renting, rather than selling. That's why DRM looks so repulsive on expendable items like printer ink and coffee cups.

    • Sharky
      February 22, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      That is part of the problem. People end up pitching the (cheap) devices into the trash. And even when supposedly recycled they often end up in a landfill. DRM equals planned obsolescence equals pollution.

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      I agree with you on this point, Oswaldo—companies should be a lot more transparent about their DRM practices. Even region-locking when you're not expecting it (as I've experienced a number of times recently) can be really irritating. You're right about the expendable items, too—it would be an awfully hard sell to say "we're renting you a device that will brew our coffee" or "use our ink," instead of "make coffee" or "print."

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Sharky, when you say that this is "part of the problem," are you talking about the DRM problem? Or just pollution?

  34. bob
    February 22, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Though it is not the case with entertainment. Music, TV shows and films are mainly online leased not owned anymore.

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:49 pm

      If I understand correctly, you're saying that people rent or lease music, TV shows, and movies online, like through Netflix, Amazon Video, and Spotify . . . is that right? If that's what you're saying, I agree—it's getting increasingly uncommon for a lot of people to buy any of their media, as the streaming options are so affordable. If you're going with one of these methods, then DRM isn't as much of an issue, because you know that you aren't going to own the movie or album from the start.

      Good point!

    • adc
      March 26, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      DRM very where
      please let corporation know
      we do not want DRM
      Just do not buy any DRM

    • Dann Albright
      March 30, 2015 at 11:09 am

      Not buying any DRM is a great idea . . . but it's really hard in practice. Not so hard with coffeemakers, but it can be difficult elsewhere. Trying to minimize the number of DRMed things you buy could certainly be done, though!

  35. Heather Lee
    February 22, 2015 at 9:13 am

    I had no idea the world I was living in. Just heard the ten DRM for the first time yesterday then stumbled upon this article by chance. Thanks for keeping us 'not cool kids' well informed. So glad I got the keurig 1.0 instead of its bully big brother as we love the eco friendly 3rd party brews!

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:46 pm

      Yeah, DRM is everywhere, and you might not realize it until someone points it out to you! It can be really frustrating seeing it all over the place. Good call getting the 1.0. Stick with it as long as you can!

  36. Zag Z.
    February 22, 2015 at 8:12 am

    This article is not for Apple fan boys.

  37. Britt
    February 22, 2015 at 6:56 am

    I bought one...unfortunately I didn't know about the drm until after I started using it..then one day decided to use a non keurig k-cup and it didn't work...will have to try this hack...I love my keurig, but this drm is stupid...

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Yes, I definitely recommend giving the hack a shot. If you spent that much money on a Keurig 2.0, you should definitely find a way to make it work. Fortunately, it's really easy.

  38. Jason
    February 22, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Speaking of blocking stuff, let's not forget Chrome's blocking of non-webstore extensions.

    • Dann Albright
      February 22, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      Yes, that's very true—a good example of DRM. I think there are probably a lot of pieces of software that have similar sorts of things that keep people from using extensions or other apps from other developers.

      Thanks for reading!

  39. Brian Tkatch
    February 22, 2015 at 1:26 am

    Well written article. Thank you.

  40. WinDork
    February 21, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    That's what you get for messing with hard-core coffee drinkers!

  41. Doc
    February 21, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Rogers Family Company has announced they will give away the Freedom Clip - a small attachment that will bypass Keurig 2.0 DRM - to anyone who asks for one, so you don't really need to buy a single K-Cup 2.0.

    http://www.rogersfamilyco.com/index.php/revolution-begun-starts-now-fight-keurig/

    • Dann Albright
      February 23, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Ah, I didn't know that they were giving it away for free—that's great! I strongly encourage people to get one, if for no other reason than to show Keurig just how eager we are to use third-party cups.

  42. jonen560ti
    February 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Great, now companies try to police what kind of cup i use for my coffee. it was bad when Apple decided that ios could only install apps from the official app store, but this is just stupid. what`s next, phones refusing to be charged with anything but the original charger?

    • Dann Albright
      February 21, 2015 at 6:38 pm

      Software DRM is rampant, but hopefully this isn't a sign that hardware rights management is going to start spreading into new areas. I wouldn't be surprised to see this sort of thing spreading—and proprietary charging cables seem like a pretty likely way that it'll go! (That might already be starting with some computers; I've never heard of a third-party Macbook charger, though I haven't looked.)

    • Anonymous
      February 22, 2015 at 7:32 am

      Jones, Apple has pretty much done that with their chargers. Some of the Charger cords don't work because the company has not licensed from Apple the chip/circuitry that is embedded in the cord.

  43. KT
    February 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    I'm glad to see people voting with their wallets. Companies have always tried tactics like proprietary product funneling, DRM, etc to see how tight they can squeeze consumers. It looks like people are smarter and more vocal now, and hopefully it holds off this kind of business longer.

    • Dann Albright
      February 21, 2015 at 6:36 pm

      I agree—making sure people know that manufacturers are taking away our control is a good way to get it all started. That's one of the reasons I really like Defective by Design (defectivebydesign.org).

  44. Andrew K
    February 21, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    I am pleased that someone has shown a way to circumvent this attrocity. I for one will not think of upgrading to a 2.0 unit anytime soon (but at least now I have a way around their prorietary attempts). I now think of Keurig as being more on the level of Microsoft, that's why I have run Linux for the past 10 years now. Guess I should invest in a couple of the older units to save as spares before they are all gone. ;)

    • Dann Albright
      February 21, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      Yeah, buy up those 1.0s before they're gone! Or buy a 2.0 and use the hack. It's pretty easy. :-)

      But yes, Keurig has definitely taken a big hit in reputation. Being on par with Microsoft isn't anybody's goal.

      Thanks for your comment!

    • Double
      February 24, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      I agree with the comment, but just like using Linux (which I do on my second pc), coffee could be so cheap if we just went back to filter, forget all the keurig type machines. Consider all the plastic waste, energy used to produce and ship those k-cups. There are fantastic one-a-cup machines with reusable filters. It is the linux of office coffee :) . That is what I have in my office.

    • Andrew K
      February 24, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      @Double I never could brew just a small carafe of coffee and have it taste right, I always had to brew the full pot. Since I was the only one in house that drank coffee I felt that in order not to waste it I had to drink it, needless to say I was drinking far too much cofee. I picked up one of these K machines and was able to have just my two cups every morning that I crave without overdosing on the caffine. At the time Keurig was a top-rated machine so that is why I chose it, and I do use a reusable filter most of the time with my own grind of coffee (although I do absolutely love Emerils Big Easy Bold), unfortunately DRM interferes with that abilty as well.

    • Dann Albright
      February 24, 2015 at 7:42 pm

      I hadn't heard of that problem before (not getting a smaller pot to taste right). Probably because I'm a grad student and therefore don't know the difference between good coffee and bad coffee. :-)

      But that seems like a perfect reason to get a Keurig!

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