Is this ethical? (computer related)

DISCLAIMER: I am not asking for instructions (or links, etc) on how to do what I am discussing!!

I am in the market for a printer that can print on CDs & DVDs. I won’t be printing a lot, but I’d like to move away from sticky labels.

I’ve been reading a lot about the Epson R200. It seems that Epson has integrated a system that is supposed to not let the user use refilled cartridges. I have read sites that show how to bypass this feature, thus allowing the user to refill cartridges and “fool” the printer into thinking a new cartridge has been installed (all at the user’s risk, of course).

Fairly recently, Lexmark got slapped on the wrist by the government when it was found out that their printers were set up to not allow the use of non-Lexmark cartridges.

Would you consider any of this unethical and/or illegal?

If I buy the printer, shouldn’t I be able to do with/to it whatever I wanted?

Perfectly ethical and legal. You did buy the printer after all.

No reason at all. In fact you should pat yourself on the back for giving a poke in the eye to a company that tries to prevent you from using your printer as you see fit.

What next - only use Lexmark dusters?

I really hate these companies that do this.

As another example, a couple of years ago, I bough an Olympus dictaphone. For the first time in my life, I found that I had come home with a piece of audio equipment that didn’t use a standard ear jack and mic.

Result? No more Olympus products for me - ever.

IIRC, Lexmark lost (and rightly so).

Perfectly ethical and legal.

I am curious what defense they employed. Perhaps they argued you only purchased a license to use the printer, which you violate if you circumvent the EULA?

If Lexmark lost wouldn’t that prove that such behavior was illegal?

While Epson’s practice strikes me as a public relations disaster, I don’t see it as illegal, however the ethics is a little trickier.

It’s not unusual for companies to require authorized replacement parts during the waranty period. Nor is it unusual for company XYZ’s widget to have some special and patented feature that is necessary to the functioning of the main product. In these cases you would have to buy XYZ’s replacement widget.

This case is a little different in that you are required to buy Epson’s cartridges even though (presumably) another manufacturer’s cartridge would work as well, or at least work to the customer’s satisfaction.

It seems to me that barring some clause in the EULA, it is perfectly ethical - and should be perfetly legal - for the user to monkey with it any way he wants.

I don’t know the details of the case but I suspect that the defence took one of two approaches:

a) We produce and sell printers at a very low price that can only be recovered by selling brabded replacements.

b) We spent zillions developing systems and any “fake” goods breach the copyright that existed over every component and peripheral.

IIRC, this isn’t quite accurate.

Lexmark initiated a lawsuit against a third party company that was selling chips to companies that made replacement toner cartridges for laser printers. The chips contained a small program, known as the Toner Loading Program, which measured the amount of toner left in the cartridge. The printer itself contained another program (the Printer Engine Program, I think) that performed the actual printing, and it would check that the TLP code in the toner cartridge exactly matched Lexmark’s code before it would allow any printing. Lexmark lost, so the other company is allowed to keep making replacement chips.

Lexmark’s claims were something like this:
[li]By copying the TLP code verbatim, the company had allegedly infringed Lexmark’s copyright on the program. The court found that the program was uncopyrightable because it was purely functional - there was literally no reasonable way to implement the program differently, partly because it was so limited in scope that there was no room for creativity (the code is just a simple equation to calculate the amount of toner from a wheel’s rotational speed), but mainly because it acted as an access key, so that the only possible way to make a working TLP was to copy Lexmark’s code.[/li][li]By gaining access to the PEP without Lexmark’s permission, the company had allegedly helped users circumvent an access control on the PEP, which would be a DMCA violation. The court found that buying the printer is what gives the user access to the PEP, since the program is stored unencrypted and can be read off the printer chips using common electronics tools - “access” doesn’t just mean the ability to run the program.[/li][/ol]

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. A printer manufacturer has no more right to tell you what cartridges you can put in your printer than a car manufacturer has to tell you where you can buy gas for it. If they wanted to maintain control over it, they shouldn’t have sold it to you in the first place; once you buy it, it’s yours, and you can fill it with pudding and coffee if that’s what you want.

I’ve found that while it can replicate browntones quite accurately, it’s lacking in other colors.