bj mccray / flickr

The US Supreme Court made a unanimous ruling today in a legal dispute that originated from a controversial use of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) more than a decade ago.
Printer manufacturer Lexmark sold cartridges under a “prebate” program, offering consumers a discount if they would agree to return their empty cartridges to Lexmark and not competing “remanufacturers.” It enforced the program with a microchip on each cartridge that prevented the empty cartridges from working again until the microchip was replaced by Lexmark.
However, a company called Static Control Components (SCC) figured out how to make microchips that would send out the same signal and allow for printer cartridges to be refilled and reused without going through Lexmark’s official process. That led Lexmark to sue Static Control in 2002; Lexmark said the company violated the DMCA.
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