DRM paper: Dymo gadget makes customers buy its own wildly expensive labels

Originally published at: DRM paper: Dymo gadget makes customers buy its own wildly expensive labels | Boing Boing


The printer industry is a sinkhole for price-gouging greedpig executives. This is just a “brilliant” move in a world that’s slowly but steadily going more paperless and where there are still plenty of non-DRMed label-makers and feedstock that will last for years if not decades before consumers and office managers have to buy new ones.


I have a life-time supply of “toe tags”, close friend that briefly worked at a morgue got me, so this infernal devices are not for me. So if you get wasted & pass out at my house, you wake in the morning with a toe tag…


but DRM paper is also the obvious fight, because IRL DRMing it is so counterintuitive and impositional. The fact that this battle is ongoing in a dying industry* like paper does not bode well for digital products where lock-in between platform+consumable was baked into the birth, and just feels intuitive and “necessary” at this point.

*we are still aiming for the “paperless office” right? That cobwebbed skeleton in the corner seems like a bad omen for adoption of remote offices…


My Grandpa had one of those old ones. I still have my name on my original Star Wars Collectors Case.

I have one of the ones with the tape labels, somewhere. I really like them, but I have it in a box and haven’t dug it out, so now I have masking tape on bins of Boba Fett stuff.


Admittedly, the label makers I use have their own form of lock-in by dint of being a specific process (It’s a P-touch labeler that uses a type of TZ label called M tape.)


Original EFF article:

Those are Dymo LabelWriter printers, that look nothing like the old-fashioned Demo plastic label makers, and more like the egg-shaped graphic above. I had two of the (pre-DRM) LabelWriters and they were complete garbage, at least on my Mac, requiring a full reset every 2 days to print. I ditched them for some Brother QL label printers and a Rollo, that are much more reliable and use cut-to-size continuous rolls.

The Rollo (or newer Rollo Wireless) are excellent replacements because they will self-learn the pitch of whatever label stock you use, and I reuse all the Dymo label stock I got (both authentic and clone) in mine, while I gave away my 450 Twin Turbo and 4XL (a series 5 I would not inflict on anyone, they should only be returned to the merchant for a full refund, hopefully if they get enough returns they will get the message and stop carrying Dymo because they cost too much in support).


Cory’s take:



Coincidentally, I just used my P Touch to label 20 thumb drives last night.

I used non Brother M tape. There are several after market brands for half the price of Genuine Brother M tape on Amazon.


I don’t see a problem with it as long as you know it at time of purchase.


I have a Dymo FL 880. My ipad prints to it just fine, but my mac has less than stellar bluetooth reception

It’s loaded with half inch white background, black ink. generic label tape right now. If I were to change the tape, I’d have to remember to change the size (1/4, 1/2, 1), background and ink in each of my computers.

Using DRM to solve a minor annoyance (no automatic recognition of label type) is so wrong.


Umm - the linked article was by Cory! :wink:

(He often cross-links/cross-posts as he explains here:)


Well, damn. :smiley:

Hey, maybe someone will stumble upon pluralistic from my link anyway?


Dymo’s site says


  • AUTOMATIC LABEL RECOGNITION: Label printer lets you see the size, type, and number of remaining labels at a glance
  • ELIMINATE WASTE AND HASSLE OF SHEET LABELS: Print precise label quantities with ease
  • NEVER BUY INK AGAIN: Direct thermal label printer, no expensive ink or toner required
  • PRINT FAST: Up to 20% faster than the LabelWriter 450 — prints up to 62* labels per minute*
  • ONLY WORKS WITH AUTHENTIC DYMO LABELS: Uses only high-quality, BPA-free DYMO Authentic LabelWriter labels; paper labels are made from FSC® certified material
  • FREE DYMO CONNECT FOR DESKTOP SOFTWARE: Create and customize 60+ label types through USB connectivity

I guess the marketing spin on this is that generics might fall off, or wash out in the rain, and or pose some unspeakable risk to your business model that authentic labels wouldn’t-- and a printer that checks for this mark of authenticity might save you from fakes on amazon.

Unlikely to happen, and likely to cost you money, but hey… And that’s if you’re happy with Dymo’s current quality standards. If someone produces a more waterproof label with better glue, you won’t be able to take advantage of it.

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The solution is simple, buy a label printer that allows you to use whatever labels you want.

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Another way of saying: Only good for temporary labels. Printing not colorfast. And subject to damage from being handled after using alcohol based hand-sanitizer (no need to ask me how I know this… :thinking: )


don’t lab label printers use the same tech?


No idea, but I think that one of my little hand held brother label printers have lamination over the thermal ink so that it won’t be damaged by people like me with alcohol smeared fingers and other such hazards. But my bigger, USB Brother label printer does not. I don’t know if the DRMed Dymo labels have the lamination. I don’t actually know if such lamination improves colorfastness - but it could if there is UV filtration and if lamination can prevent something like oxidation. All I really know is that my thermal receipts are frequently impossible to use as records by the time I need to refer to them.

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