Canon printer owners get official guidance to bypass DRM as company is forced to sell chip-less toners

Printer manufacturers go to great (oftentimes irritating) lengths to ensure hardware DRM policies that can result in heavy expenditure when it comes to replacing a toner cartridge or other components with a ‘genuine’ part. In an ironic twist of events, Canon has revealed that it can’t source enough DRM chips for some of its printer cartridges due to the ongoing semiconductor crisis, and has issued a customer advisory to highlight affected functionality plus guidance to bypass DRM-related warnings.

Silicon shortage has forced Canon to make chip-less toner cartridges for some of its business printers and multifunction devices (MFDs). In an official announcement for customers in Australia, New Zealand and Germany, Canon shared the affected models comprising several imageRunner printers, and assured users that the new chip-less cartridges won’t have a negative impact on printing quality. The company is also reportedly informing customers via email.

The absence of a DRM chip in Canon’s toner cartridges means that even a genuine replacement would fail to be recognized as such by the printer. Consequently, users will see DRM-related warnings and prompts, usually meant to trigger in case of a counterfeit part. It’s why Canon’s official advisory also contains steps to bypass these messages. These alerts are only shown for impacted models on older firmware and will not appear on updated printers/MFDs.

Without a DRM chip in the cartridge, it’s all the same to a printer

Owners who buy these chip-less toner cartridges should be able to print normally, Canon notes. However, toner levels might be reported incorrectly as either “100%” or “OK” regardless of the remaining quantity, or correctly as “0%” or “Empty” in case the toner has run out. Canon says the chip-less cartridges will start arriving in February, calling them an interim measure in the ongoing silicon crisis. The company expects to resume supply of chipped parts once normal supply is restored.

Given that these cartridges will ship without a DRM chip, they might also have a lower asking price than regular parts. On the other hand, this very attribute and the fact that Canon will likely make them in limited quantities could result in jacked-up, scalper prices. Whatever turns out to be the case, at least Canon is unlikely to face a lawsuit this time around.