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Electronic Frontier Foundation HP Hardware

EFF Calls On HP To Disable Printer Ink Self-Destruct Sequence (arstechnica.com) 250

HP should apologize to customers and restore the ability of printers to use third-party ink cartridges, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said in a letter to the company's CEO yesterday. From an ArsTechnica report:HP has been sabotaging OfficeJet Pro printers with firmware that prevents use of non-HP ink cartridges and even HP cartridges that have been refilled, forcing customers to buy more expensive ink directly from HP. The self-destruct mechanism informs customers that their ink cartridges are "damaged" and must be replaced. "The software update that prevented the use of third-party ink was reportedly distributed in March, but this anti-feature itself wasn't activated until September," EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow wrote in a letter to HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler. "That means that HP knew, for at least six months, that some of its customers were buying your products because they believed they were compatible with any manufacturer's ink, while you had already planted a countdown timer in their property that would take this feature away. Your customers will have replaced their existing printers, or made purchasing recommendations to friends who trusted them on this basis. They are now left with a less useful printer -- and possibly a stockpile of useless third-party ink cartridges."
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EFF Calls On HP To Disable Printer Ink Self-Destruct Sequence

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  • Just don't buy HP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mmiscool ( 2434450 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:33PM (#52971431)
    Just don't buy HP
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:40PM (#52971489)

      That doesn't help all the people who bought HP before they knew this "feature" would activate at a later date.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by KiloByte ( 825081 )

        Yeah, but "don't buy HP printers" has been good advice for at least 20 years.

        • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:23PM (#52971829)

          Yeah, but "don't buy HP printers" has been good advice for at least 20 years.

          So has don't buy Canon. Oh and didn't Lexmark start this whole cartridge encoding thing? And then there was Brother's reputation for jamming more than a fruit preservative factory.

          The only good advice is to use pencil and hope you never need to duplicate pages at home because quite frankly all printer companies have shown some level of dickish behaviour.

          • by swalve ( 1980968 )
            I think they did, but they are pretty open about it. At least on current models. Also, their consumables are relatively cheap.
          • by Xest ( 935314 )

            Whilst I'd never defend manufacturers grossly inflated ink prices, I do recall years ago, in my first ever job I had to repair printers sometimes and you could always tell when people had bought 3rd party ink because it genuinely did completely fuck up the print heads. It would just clog the things up, and it'd be a nightmare cleaning the dodgy ink off, my advice back then was to suck it up and buy 1st party, because it was still cheaper than getting your printer repaired, or replacing it every 6 months. Th

          • So has don't buy Canon. Oh and didn't Lexmark start this whole cartridge encoding thing? And then there was Brother's reputation for jamming more than a fruit preservative factory.

            The only good advice is to use pencil and hope you never need to duplicate pages at home because quite frankly all printer companies have shown some level of dickish behaviour.

            All wannabe's anyway, HP included. I bought a business-class Xerox color laser off-lease and it has never betrayed me. It's ridiculously large and overpowered for what I need, since I turn it on maybe two or three times a year, but it has 4 independent toner cartridges for CMYK and Just Works, Windows and Linux over the network (it has its own Ethernet port). Never dries out, can do color if I need it, driver supports black-only printing so I don't waste color toner needlessly, and it's built like a tank

      • by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:06PM (#52971701) Journal
        This is where we are now. Everything you buy today is sold with Darth Vader terms "I've altered the deal, pray i dont alter it further" with no recourse other than to not buy or stop using it. IN the past you could work around these things, but DMCA kills most of that.. Unless you are running open solutions, you are at their mercy. We are here, we have arrived. Its not some dystopian future, its here, now, today.
      • That is what class actions are for.

    • Yeah, great hindsight there. If you said so in March with details on why, that would have actually been useful.

    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )

      How do you not buy HP retroactively?

    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:21PM (#52971813)

      Just don't buy HP

      Ahhh yes. The USA. Freedom to get screwed over by corporations where the only power is to not buy from corporations after the fact, or to start a class action lawsuit netting the victims of corporate sabotage a $15 discount voucher for their next HP product. And when we're finished boycotting every company we can go back to using a mechanical pencil, at least until one company decides to release a 0.35mm version and their own super expensive refills for that.

      I think it's time the USA woke up to the fact that the anti-government / free market takes care of all of our problems approach is not necessarily having the best outcomes.

      • > or to start a class action lawsuit netting the victims of corporate sabotage a $15 discount voucher for their next HP product.

        $15 !?

        Usually the lawyers make millions and the people get a $0.10 refund.

    • by jdavidb ( 449077 )

      I'm coming at you from an HP laptop I bought this year and have been happy with. But I bought a printer this year and after hearing that they are acting like such bastards about it I am very glad I didn't buy HP.

      I bought a Brother double sided laser printer for $80 or $90 dollars off of Amazon. It also functions as a scanner, and third party cartridges for it from Amazon cost about $10-$15 and have worked great so far. I have been extremely happy with it. The double sided printing has been very helpful

      • I'm coming at you from an HP laptop I bought this year and have been happy with. But I bought a printer this year and after hearing that they are acting like such bastards about it I am very glad I didn't buy HP.

        I am still using a HPLJ2300DN with a jetdirect card in, and I love it. But I had an HP laptop with the G71 Quadro FX1500 which had a known wire bonding problem. It took over 24 hours of phone time to get the machine replaced. Fuck HP sideways. I won't buy anything new of theirs. I hear there's another printer made about the same time as the 2300 which is a little bigger and fancier and also good, but this fucker is multi-protocol and prints 17 PPM at 600 dpi which is really enough for anyone... who's just p

    • by Jawnn ( 445279 )
      Oh, STFU you Rand fan boy. This, right here, is a prime example of why your vaunted "free market" does not work. Did you RTFA? You know, the part about how HP sneaked this update in well before activating it? Free market's require informed consumers. Furthermore, it requires that what I thought I bought continues to be what I bought. Changing my property without my informed consent is all kinds of wrong.
    • Yes, for both individuals and businesses who are making a decision based on cost of ownership, HP's just went up a lot.

      Probably moved them way down the list on the value for your dollar scale now. Not to mention they are no longer trustworthy either.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      People may need to learn the hard way that there is no free lunch here. If HP original printer + third party ink looks like a deal that is too good to be true, it probably is. Not defending the underhanded and dishonorable tactics of HP here, but in the end they have to make a profit and if they make a loss on the printer, they have to sell their own ink to compensate. This should not come as a surprise and neither should it be a surprise that HP would resort to sabotage.

      The right approach is, of course, to

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do the world a favor.

  • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:39PM (#52971477) Homepage Journal

    This is probably actually illegal. Sony had to pay a settlement for disabling Linux on the PS3; HP is doing the same, so has at least a civil suit. Uniquely, however, HP has proven that their product is compatible with third-party ink, and has taken action to specifically to lock-out competition. That's probably an instance of Tying, and HP has sufficient market power to show that Tying is anti-competitive.

    • by rijrunner ( 263757 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:00PM (#52971645)

      Probably, but I am reminded of the Microsoft/Stacker lawsuit. Stacker was a company that did on-the-fly disk compression for DOS systems. Microsoft met up with them and went through a lot of due diligence and saw a lot of Stacker's software code as part of a discussion about Microsoft licensing Stacker for the next version of DOS. They did not reach an agreement. Microsoft then incorporated a product in the next version that looked a lot like Stacker. Stacker sued and eventually won, but was already driven out of business by the time everything cleared court.

      So, I ask you.. does it really matter if something is illegal if no one goes to jail and it is cheaper to pay a fine than deal with competition?

      • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:22PM (#52971821)

        I worked at a company next door to Slacker in the 90s. Long after the suit. And yet there was their building with a few actual people going in and out that we could see. The theory we had was that they were living off of the proceeds from the lawsuit, so yes, it was worth it for them.

        • Sorry, "Stacker", not "Slacker". Freudian slip.

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          The payout from the lawsuit was probably over time and the people who got the proceeds probably paid less taxes to take it over time. Keeping the shell of the business running for a few years made sense financially even if it was just a sham operation that would eventually fold.

        • You are falling for the fallacy of scale.

          Everyone knows that a candy bar is worth about $1-$2. So when you see someone get one for 50 cents, you know they underpaid, and when someone pays $10 for one, they overpaid.

          But you have no idea the value of something like stakker. So they got a huge amount of money, it was their BUSINESS, and was beyond doubt worth a huge amount of money. If they had a $200 million company, but settled for $20 million, you would see that same thing as if they had settled for $400

          • No one could really predict what it would be worth had Microsoft not stolen it. Microsoft's software was very popular because it was from Microsoft and included by default, whereas a third party product would struggle to get a decent market share over time. On the other hand they could have done the partnership deal with Microsoft, but would they have gotten the same amount of money that way? This was slighlty before the era of Microsoft shafting everyone and buying out competitors for a dime and shuttin

        • Not really...

          They won an original settlement of $120 million (about $5.50 per copy of DOS sold) less $13.6 million awarded to Microsoft for their countersuit. That was never paid. Microsoft appealed the decision and hung it up in court. Eventually, they settled for Microsoft investing $39.9 million into Stac (ie, they ended up part owner of the company they screwed over) and $43 million for Stac to try to move into a different area. Stac tried other products, but failed. In 2002, they sold their remaining

        • by wbr1 ( 2538558 )
          It is easier to ask/pay for forgiveness than permission.
      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Probably, but I am reminded of the Microsoft/Stacker lawsuit. Stacker was a company that did on-the-fly disk compression for DOS systems. Microsoft met up with them and went through a lot of due diligence and saw a lot of Stacker's software code as part of a discussion about Microsoft licensing Stacker for the next version of DOS. They did not reach an agreement. Microsoft then incorporated a product in the next version that looked a lot like Stacker. Stacker sued and eventually won, but was already driven

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I don't know about the USA, but in Brazil it *is* illegal, and as soon as enough such printers are "caught in the act" to be used as evidence, HP will be sued by PROTESTE (a consumer rights action group mostly made out of lawyers :p).

    • We just expanded the law to deal with variation on the scheme: an academic paper on it is at http://digitalcommons.osgoode.... [yorku.ca]
  • Only one surprise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AlanBDee ( 2261976 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:40PM (#52971479)
    The only surprise here is that anyone would still recommend HP printers.
    • by Fire_Wraith ( 1460385 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:56PM (#52971623)
      They're great for reenactments of Office Space, at least.
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:24PM (#52971847)

      The only surprise here is that anyone would still recommend HP printers.

      Since we don't recommend pretty much every printer company for various and often similar dickish behaviour (seriously you think HP had enough innovation left to come up with this? They just copied this from Lexmark, and added a time delay to make it look new), just what should we do?

      • Listen up and take heed: It's not that you should "Stop buying HP Printers". It's that you should "Stop buying *INKJET* Printers". HP makes plenty of laser printers that last longer and are a WAY better investment than buying an inkjet printer.

        OK, so I guess I'll be the one to say it:

        I RECOMMEND that you buy an HP LASERJET PRINTER!
      • Since we don't recommend pretty much every printer company for various and often similar dickish behaviour (seriously you think HP had enough innovation left to come up with this? They just copied this from Lexmark, and added a time delay to make it look new), just what should we do?

        Maybe Lexmark could sue them for infringing their business model.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:49PM (#52971553)

    I ran into this issue when the firmware auto updated and then all of the ink cartridges that I used to refill suddenly stopped working. There are a few hacks that involve putting tiny pieces of tape over the copper sensors of the ink cartridge, but it's not easily done. I ended up turning my HP printer into just a scanner and purchased a brother black/white laser printer off Amazon for $39. I've printed hundreds of documents and it's still running strong. My HP printer would print around 10 documents before running out of ink.

    Go laser and never look back, black and white preferable unless you really need to print photos or something. We use Walgreens online for photos so don't really mind. What HP doesn't understand is they are shooting themselves in the foot over the longterm just to make short term profits.

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:49PM (#52971557) Journal
    This promotes the notion that you should never install updates. That's a really bad lesson.
  • HP employee here (Score:5, Informative)

    by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:50PM (#52971565)

    Well, HPE, and not for much longer (going out on my terms)... anyway - we used to get ink for free, before the split last November, but honestly, I stopped using my HP printer about a year before that. The scanner functionality didn't work right over the network and after getting a Dell (the horror) color laser, there was no reason to print on an inkjet anyway. Now I have an All-in-one that prints great color and scans, all over the network - even does AirPrint and an app to print over Android devices, too.

    Regardless of my feeling toward Meg Whitman and destruction of HP, I'd still recommend never buying HP Inkjets - same as I recommend not buying Epson (had those for years, then they put in a self-destruct after 3000 prints that just printed garbage on your media, dumb and expensive to the user).

    The tactics of these companies are reprehensible, and should not be supported by anybody. It's not like HP cares about its customers any more, anyway. It's all about stock prices so they can sell it all off to hedge funds (and devalue the middle class' pension funds to line their own pockets) just before it finally collapses.

    • Re:HP employee here (Score:5, Informative)

      by NatasRevol ( 731260 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:13PM (#52971725) Journal

      Ditto from another HPE employee.

      HPI makes printers, ink & consumer electronics (desktops, laptops, etc)

      HPE makes enterprise hardware. (servers, networking gear, SANs, etc)

    • I have an HP Multifunction that works great and is cheap. On the other hand, it is only used for scanning, so HP has made a loss on the sale.
    • Regardless of my feeling toward Meg Whitman and destruction of HP...

      Unless you switched in mid-stream to talking about eBay, I do believe it was Carly Fiorina that fucked HP into the ground...Both of those ladies did a bang-up job on their respective corporations...

      • Not quite: Ebay these days is actually still pretty useful, depending on what you're shopping for. I'm using it more than Amazon now, as the prices are frequently better. I've gotten lots of great stuff on there in the past year even: used cellphones, used laptops, new-old-stock items, etc. So Meg didn't quite manage to drive it into the ground.

        Carly and HP, however, is another story....

    • ... from a once great high-tech manufacturer whose products were expensive, but worth it, to an embarrasing ink seller with the behaviour of a shady used-cars dealer. Those days when I was happily using HP calculators and an HP workstation and a DeskJet 500 printer that could print thousands of pages on refills from a 1l bottle of Pelikan ink... now they seem as far behind as Egypt building the pyramids. Buying HP? I'd rather burn my money to make ink from the ashes myself.
      • Used to work in a chemistry lab in the 90s.. the analytical machines (GC, GC Mass spec, HPLC) where all top of the line and cutting edge.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @03:54PM (#52971597)

    I remember the olden days when HP made good printers. Expensive, but good. They'd last 10+ years with virtually no trouble. Their network connectivity was flawless and reliable. Their mechanical design was indestructible. The print quality was top notch.

    And then they started building "consumer" inkjet printers. And then they started marketing those low-grade printers to small offices. And then they jacked up the prices of ink. And now they're pulling this DMCA bullcrap. This is what "hell in a handbasket" looks like, and this is how legitimate businesses go to it.

    What once was done by being a competitive provider of goods and services has now been replaced with marketing and lobbying. Corporations, take heed: hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but even that doesn't hold a candle to nerd rage. Do. Not. Piss. Off. The. Nerds. Or. They. Will. Put. You. Out. Of. Business. And. Use. Way. Too. Many. Single. Word. Sentence. Fragments.

  • by stongef ( 1149711 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:12PM (#52971719)
    I got fed up with HP's crappy business practices, an bought a new Epson Ecotank 2550 printer instead. No more cartridges to buy, just ink bottles ... and those last forever, it seems. The printer was more expensive yes, but now the family is back to printing without worrying about the cost of ink. Ah, and also, no more "dried up ink cartridges because it's been a while we printed" problem.
  • Don't buy HP printers, and let them fail
  • The EFF? WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:17PM (#52971777)

    This strikes me as a contravention of anti-fraud and/or anti-trust laws, and should be the subject of criminal charges filed by various States and Federal attorneys. Sure, it's about Electronic Freedoms, and I'm glad the EFF is weighing in - but dammit, they shouldn't have to do so. Legal authorities should be doing their jobs.

    • This strikes me as a contravention of anti-fraud and/or anti-trust laws, and should be the subject of criminal charges filed by various States and Federal attorneys. Sure, it's about Electronic Freedoms, and I'm glad the EFF is weighing in - but dammit, they shouldn't have to do so. Legal authorities should be doing their jobs.

      HP has been doing this for so long that EFF weighing in now is questionable.

  • by Pezbian ( 1641885 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:36PM (#52971945)

    If it floats, flies, fucks, or prints, it's cheaper to rent it.

    I find I print more often after switching away from inkjet to laser. The problem with inkjet was I'd print so seldom that the cartridges would get clogged and that just made me want to use it even less. Why fiddle around for an hour trying to get a good photo print when the Walmart down the street is faster and doesn't go through $5 in ink each time? I had a geriatric (Centronics-50 SCSI; that's how old) Kodak dye sub printer that was less trouble.

    I picked up a used business-class HP B/W laser all-in-one for $25 and the damn thing goes like a champ.
    For color, I have a Brother laser. I'll sacrifice print quality for reliability any day.

  • by Stan92057 ( 737634 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @04:52PM (#52972075)
    Welcome to the decade where business tell YOU what you can and cant do with hardware you pay for. Dont expect Congress to help either, they are all millionaires who have stock in all these companies and those companies line their political campaign pockets as well. They are royalty we are their modern day peasants/slaves..because very few have the balls to say no.
  • I call on my IT service customers to stop using inkjet printers entirely. Even if you insist on color, there is a Canon color laser for about $250. For the rest of us, there are a number of good $100 monochrome lasers. You can send the occasional color photo to Snapfish, with two-day turnaround.

  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Tuesday September 27, 2016 @06:03PM (#52972511)

    I've used HP printers exclusively for decades, mostly because they "just work" with Linux.
    I recently had to get rid of my still perfectly working HP all-in-one (PSC950) because it wouldn't work with Windows 10 and HP aren't concerned enough to support it anymore.
    I switched my brand loyalty to Epson entirely because of these stupid ink cartridge games HP keep playing, and because Epson have individual cartridges for each ink colour, whereas none of the HPs I was looking at did. I calculate that In about 6 months of ownership, just my ink bill savings from going Epson this time round have more than paid for the new printer. It was only $89 but its actually a great networked printer/scanner.

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