The Null Device

Gadget geoslavery

In the Digital Rights Millennium, region-coding is not just for DVDs anymore; region-coded printer cartridges and other gadgets which only work in their intended target market: (via bOING bOING)
U.S. multinational companies want Europeans to continue to buy their goods in Europe, however, rather than seeking out bargains in the U.S. The companies make more money if Europeans pay in euros for their goods at current exchange rates.
H-P has quietly begun implementing "region coding" for its highly lucrative print cartridges for some of its newest printers sold in Europe. Try putting a printer cartridge bought in the U.S. into a new H-P printer configured to use cartridges purchased in Europe and it won't work. Software in the printer determines the origin of the ink cartridge and whether it will accept it. The company introduced region-coding on several printers in the summer so it won't have to keep altering prices to keep pace with currency movements, says Kim Holm, vice president for H-P's supplies business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. H-P eventually plans to introduce the concept across its entire line of inkjet printers, he adds.

Hewlett-Packard currently appears to be one of the most enthusiastic advocates of "rights management" and similar forms of policeware to keep no-good thieving customers in line. If, as the 21st century unfolds, we find all our data in a digital black iron prison, where every movement is micromanaged by the stern rules of profit-motivated corporate overlords, enforced by their digital prison guards in every machine, we can thank Ms. Fiorina for helping to bring this about.

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