The global semiconductor shortage is having all sorts of interesting effects. Companies like Sony have stopped taking some orders. Auto-makers are releasing vehicles that are lacking certain features. And now Canon’s printer arm is telling its users how to circumvent its toner cartridge DRM.
You know how some printers work, right? They just don’t seem to function correctly unless you plop in a branded plastic box filled with a very expensive substance. That’s because there’s a little chip built into the cartridge that tells the printer that this is the genuine article. Well, Canon can’t find enough of those chips, so it’s had to make other plans.
The second-worst chip shortage
Canon’s German website has posted a notification saying that, because of the chip shortage, some of its printer cartridges are set to be impaired. “In order to ensure a continuous and reliable supply of consumables, we have decided to deliver consumables without semiconductor components until normal supply is restored,” the company said.
This won’t have much of an impact on the cartridges themselves, but it does mean certain bits won’t work as intended. Most notably, the detection of toner levels will be impaired.
This isn’t anything to worry about unless you happen to use one of the company’s ImageRunner printers. And, of course, you’d have to lay hands on a toner cartridge that’s missing its’ DRM chip. In that case, you’ll have to bypass your printer’s DRM, a method that Canon outlines for users.
There are various methods, which all boil down to telling the printer to continue working when it says it’s empty. Sometimes you just click to bypass, other times you turn it off and on again. Or, rather, take it out and stick it in again. These DRM bypass methods will probably also work on generic printer cartridges as well — but Canon probably doesn’t want you thinking about that. It’s amazing what a chip shortage can force companies into accepting.