North Carolina votes to refill printer cartridges

In a move that appears specifically targeted at Lexmark and their chip-enabled anti-refill technology, the North Carolina Senate has approved a law that would allow everyone in the state to refill any printer cartridge, regardless of any agreement to the contrary in the purchase agreement.

An article from the Herald Sun reports some of the details. Unfortunately, the piece appears to be tacked on to existing legislation and I've been unable to locate the original legislation to provide a link to it.

However, it brings up an interesting dilemma. Whereby I believe that the use of the DMCA to prevent the circumvention of the copy protection scheme by Lexmark is inappropriate, I don't disagree with their basic right to sell the "prebate" cartridges at a lower price with specific stipulations that the purchasers must heed. There has been much said about the Lexmark case involving the "right" to reload cartridges, and that's what this legislation appears to be addressing. However, it doesn't mention the fact that Lexmark sells cartridges that don't have this chip in them that can be used for recycling.

As usual, the legislators have grabbed the hype and missed the real problem, a law that makes it illegal to reverse engineer a solution when it regards copy protection. There is nothing like it in the "real" world (like automobiles, etc.), but the computer industry wants special protection because it believes that it's "property" can be stolen too easily. To me, that doesn't sound like the job for the government. However, it also isn't the job of the government to explicitly remove business models. If I were Lexmark, I'd refuse to sell the lower-priced cartridges in North Carolina.