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HP has found an exciting new way to DRM your printer!

HP has found an exciting new way to DRM your printer!

Amazon's no. 1 bestselling printer is the HP Deskjet 2755e. Its not hard to see why. For just $85, you get a wireless color printer, scanner, and six months of free ink. It also comes with HP Plus, one of the most atrocious plans Big Inkjet has ever come up with.

I'm not talking about how printers silently waste their ink, or pretend cartridges are empty when they're not, or lock out official cartridges from other regions. Heck, I'm not even talking about "dynamic security," where new HP firmware updates secretly contain malware that blocks batches of third-party cartridges while pretending to harden your printheads against hacks. We do.

No, the genius of HP's latest plan is that it's hidden in plain sight, allowing you to unwittingly sign away your rights. Get free ink, and HP controls your printer for life.

First introduced in 2020 at the peak of the pandemic, the HP Plus was built around FOMO from the start. You get just seven days to claim your free ink, from the moment you plug a new printer into the wall. Act now, and it'll extend your warranty for a full year, give you the "advanced HP Smart App" and plant trees on your behalf. Because why wouldn't you want to save the forest?

Here's one reason, as detailed in a new complaint by the International Imaging Technology Council (IITC), that could turn into a false advertising battle: The HP Plus comes with firmware updates that allow your printer's third-party ink completely removes the ability to accept You will need to buy "genuine" HP ink as long as you use the printer.

It's not clear exactly how HP has managed to completely block third-party cartridges, but it appears to be true. My own local CompAndSave, which distributes ink cartridges from some of the world's largest third-party manufacturers, tells me that those vendors have yet to sell their aftermarket carts (or even user-refilled "genuine HP" cartridges). Haven't found a way to work. With HP Plus Printer.

It would be one thing if you could cancel HP Plus and start using your printer normally again, but no! Even though HP claims you can "change or cancel anytime," there is no way to deactivate the firmware, HP's own technical support told IITC. (A Verge source also confirms this.)

IITC writes, "In fact, once activated the customer may dispose of the HP+." HP didn't respond to our questions about the firmware update, including why it prominently states there's no way to uninstall it.

IITC, a group that represents remanufacturers of ink cartridges, is yet to sue the world's leading printer company. The complaint instead seeks to push back on HP's environmental credentials by petitioning the Global Electronics Council (GEC), a non-profit organization that maintains an "EPEAT" registry of environmentally sound products.

Would you like to see the root of that argument? I went full blinking white cow when I saw it: HP, the company that repeatedly admits it blocks third-party cartridges for your own good, is telling an environmental group that it's not like that at all. does.

See, when HP gets these printers on the EPEAT registry, it successfully beats its reputation. The company is required to affix EPEAT labels to its website and products, each of which suggests that an independent third party has certified that HP really does care about the planet.

But EPEAT has a very specific rule that certified printers can't bar the use of non-OEM cartridges, and the HP Plus is just the latest in a long line of ways HP ties you to its inks.

Incredibly, the Global Electronics Council is well aware of the HP Plus and is mostly playing around with it. For example, the HP Deskjet 2755e and family are currently considered EPEAT Silver, with only a footnote that "the optional HP+ configuration does not meet required criteria"

The IITC argues, "[a]ny printer that has been documented including the HP+ should not be eligible for EPEAT registration," adding that HP's dynamic protection feature is also a clear violation of the same rule—since HP also assumes it is designed to "block". cartridges containing non-HP chips or modified or non-HP electronic circuitry."

IITC says HP released four "killer firmware updates" over the past eight weeks to silently block third-party cartridges in EPEAT-registered HP inkjet printers, and at least 26 against HP laser printers .

Here are some choice quotes from the terms and conditions for HP's ink service that I think you'll appreciate (bolding mine):

You expressly permit HP to remotely replace, patch, update or otherwise modify your printer's software, firmware or programming in order to provide you with service or to comply with applicable laws.

Remote monitoring may include provision for HP of one or more of the following: page count, type of documents being printed (eg, Word, PowerPoint, PDF, JPEG, etc.), type of device initiating the print job, printer serial number, cartridge information (such as the condition of the HP original cartridge, and whether the cartridge was new or used at the time of its last insertion into the printer), and other similar metrics related to your service that may be added by HP from time to time are can go

You agree to maintain your Printer's connectivity to the Internet and agree not to remove or disable any remote monitoring software or functionality on your Printer

If your printer is not connected to the Internet, subscription cartridges (as defined in section D below) will be disabled, and you will not be able to use them to print; However, you will continue to be charged for the Service as described in Section 7 (“Payment for your Service”). To reactivate a disabled cartridge, you must reconnect your printer to the Internet and keep it connected

When your service is canceled for any reason, HP will remotely disable the subscription cartridge and you will not be able to print with the subscription cartridge. In this case, you will need to purchase a regular HP cartridge compatible with your printer to continue printing

HP may increase or otherwise change the Service Plan Fee and Overage Fee, and add additional fees to any Service Plan, or otherwise change or add to the Service Plans at any time in HP's sole discretion with prior notice to you Could

Printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids in the world. Free ink is tempting! But please don't take the free ink. Please make fun of inkjet supplies and hostage situations until these companies change their tune. (Example.)

And maybe buy a brother instead.

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