Felony Contempt of Business Model: Lexmark's anti-competitive legacy

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/06/28/printer-ink-markets-in-everyth.html

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I cannot fathom why you singled out Lexmark for this. HP is just as guilty and has gotten caught more than once. What irks me is that they make pretty good products. But the business model, probably begun with HP, is to sell printers at cost and make money on the refills. THAT is why they do this. They are locked into this business model now and can’t(won’t) back out of it.


Because, as the article says, Lexmark is the only company in the history of the world to argue in court that refiling a printer cartridge is a copyright violation under DMCA 1201, and that argument is now used to prevent people from making third-party app stores, DVRs, mechanics’ tools, etc.


The fix has to come from us. We consumers need to demand and support products that don’t violate our rights as owners. Economics made this mess, and maybe they can fix it, too.

As the tech-person-in-residence, my family involves me in buying everything from laptops to TVs to phones. I steer relatives to purchase unlocked products as much as practical, and away from brands that have used DRM as a weapon against us.

I’ve been very clear with them: don’t buy Sony products because they pioneered DRM and continue to push it. Don’t buy HP. Don’t buy Lexmark. And if you do, I can’t and won’t help you with them.

As some of them are more agrarian, I try to use an example they can relate to. I’ll trot out John Deere, and how their repair parts have chips inside that double the prices and prevent them from fixing their own tractors with non-factory parts. Even though these people have bled green and yellow for decades, they certainly recognize when they’re being screwed over.

Instead, I encourage them to buy products from companies that let us maintain their stuff, like Brother. That works well when the products are mostly feature compatible. But I still can’t help it when it comes to phones; people want iPhones and I can’t blame them.


Ah, thank you. HP at least backed down when threatened. Of course, they tried to do it at least one more time. Um, did Dell buy out Lexmark? Wait, they had them make Dell branded machines? I forget.

Ok, here’s the Chicago School Economist joke:
How many economists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Ans: None. Had the light bulb needed changing, the free market would have done so.


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