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HP is backing down over its use of DRM to prevent third-party cartridges from working on its printers. And lo, it came to pass that a company saw sense for a change. However begrudgingly.

In March of this year, HP issued a firmware update for some of its printers. So far, so ordinary. Unfortunately, this firmware update added DRM designed to disable third-party ink cartridges. The DRM kicked in on September 13th.

The idea was to prevent people from using ink cartridges which didn’t have HP security chips built into them. If the printer detected the presence of an unauthorized third-party ink cartridge, it would display a “damaged cartridge” error message.

This is already pretty crappy, but it got worse when the DRM was found to be affecting genuine HP ink cartridges as well. Cue lots of complaints on HP’s forums, and some bad press from tech sites.

HP Backtracks Back Into Our Good Books

Fast-forward a couple of weeks to today, and you’ll find HP backtracking on the firmware update. So much so it’s issuing “an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature”. This will be offered as “a remedy for the small number of affected customers” and “ready within two weeks”.

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Image Credit: Vernon Chan
Image Credit: Vernon Chan

HP realized it had gone just a little too far in its efforts to protect its IP. And is doing the right thing by issuing an optional firmware update to those adversely affected by the original update.

However, the company is still insisting that authenticating ink cartridges is a good thing for consumers. This despite the fact that printer ink is priced at absurdly high levels 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 , which is why so many of us hunt for cheaper options in the first place.

Is HP right to protect its IP with DRM of this nature? Were you affected by the crackdown on the use of third-party ink cartridges on HP printers? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credit: Frankieleon via Flickr

  1. Doc
    October 2, 2016 at 2:47 am

    The problem is that HP has neither apologized for their screwup, nor have they admitted the DRM in these printers is illegal under US law.

    • Dave Parrack
      October 4, 2016 at 11:38 am

      HP is maintaining it's just protecting IP. If the company apologizes then it's an admission of guilt. Even if it's not illegal, it's certainly shitty.

    • m-p{3}
      October 6, 2016 at 2:58 pm

      Which in my opinion is a good reason to stay away from HP printers.

      If they don't make enough money on printers and artificially inflate the price of their cartridges to compensate, then they should review their business model.

  2. Eric
    September 30, 2016 at 10:55 am

    Just another reason to abandon HP printers. Every one I've ever owned developed problems within a year of owning. Haven't regretted switching to Brother.

    • PERRY F BRUNS
      September 30, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      There really is too much viable competition in the low-margin market of printer hardware for HP to be pulling these shenanigans. I've had good results with Brother, Canon (which frankly amazed me!) and Epson over the past decade. HP tried to pull a Keurig with their cartridges, and it has backfired big time.

    • Anthony
      September 30, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      We only use laser printers at home. We do have a big HP Color laser printer but it's cheaper in the long run compared to inkjet printers.

    • Dave Parrack
      October 4, 2016 at 11:40 am

      With printers, like every other piece of hardware, it's about finding a brand you like and trust. Congratulations on finding that in Brother. I'm sure others still feel that way about HP printers.

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