Guess what, DRM is now in Coffee

Hairless Mammoth

New member
Jan 23, 2013
1,595
0
0
So, I've been spent the last year or so reading about these Keurig 2.0 coffee machines that just came out for a while now. For those not in the know, they're the next generation of those single serve brewers that take a sealed "k-cup" of coffee grounds or tea and make 4-8 oz. of hot bean/leaf juice in less than a minute. The thing about them that is really causing some backdraft is the new machines scan the k-cup's (or a larger "carafe" cup that makes 14 oz. on some machines) foil lid for a special pattern that must be there for the brewer to work. Basically, Green Mountain Coffee, owners of the Keurig brand, have put DRM in their coffee machines. Apparently, they didn't like when their patent on the K-cup expired in 2012 and competitors started making their own coffee packs and brewers, so they put in some thing that screws everyone but themselves.

This new system locks out the machine if your k-cup doesn't have a white ring with logos around the lid or green dot on the carafe cup lid and limits your options for each brewing cycle depending on whether it detects a smaller k-cup or the larger carafe cup. It's great for stopping the machine from pumping 3 times as much water as you want through the small k-cup by accident. But the downside is you cannot use anything without either symbol, even older official k-cups. It won't even run hot water unless there is no coffee pod in the unit (so, no tricking it by just pressing the hot water button), only does 6 oz. at a time and requires you to hold down a button (like it's punishing you for using a feature that was automatic on older machines from the same company). The company's word is this system is purely to benefit the consumer. (Of course, it always is. /sarc) It's basically what the printer makers have been doing for years, scaring ignorant consumers with the messages about "dangers of unofficial ink" and finally stopping more tech savvy(or at least brave enough to spill ink everywhere) users and third part cartridge refillers with chipped cartridges. Just now, the problem moved to your kitchen and lowered you choices if you like any third party flavors and prices.

I'm only bringing this up for 2 reasons. One is I now have personal experience with one. My mom's old keurig thing died 2 weeks ago after almost 2 years of being fed filtered, softened water and getting descaled often enough. I looked around for and did find some decent brewers that took those k-cups (and more) for less than $100. But she, despite my warnings, had to get one of these Keurig 2.0 doodads (the $150, huge sumbitch, to be precise) a week ago. After playing with it for a few minutes, I tried the one of the DRM defeating methods I found online. I carefully peeled the foil lid off one of the used newer cups and taped it over any cup the machine reads as contraband. The same lid Works like a charm after a week but might be getting worn out since I'm the only one that tries to line the thing up right. (The other method I've seen has you tape a small section of that white ring around the lid to where the camera is. But, that means you can't fill the big pot that came with the brewer using one of the bigger Carafe cups, and explaining how to remove and replace the "cheater strip" to everyone in the house is just something I'd rather not experience.) And yes, it's patronizes you if you try the wrong K-cup. "Oops, this pack was not designed for this brewer. Please try one of the many packs with the Keurig logo." Really, 'cause I see a logo right there on the thing, it fits perfectly and wedging another lid with some magic juju on it causes it to work like it was "designed for this brewer."

The other reason is the relevance of the the drm to games and computer tech and how it's spreading to other sectors in new and evil ways. Imagine if this spreads to more things. What's stopping manufacturers from putting chips or other super cheap (for them) methods in their products to stop people from buying consumables such as filters or special light bulbs from anyone but them. They are shying away from patents, since those expire quickly, and hiding their greed behind copyright laws. Code for distinguishing between what is accepted can be copyrighted, and that protection can last far longer. Keurig's competitors say they found out how to bypass the DRM, but they really can't do anything since Keurig can sue them. (And Keurig probably has a better chance than Apple suing Samsung over "a touchscreen phone with rounded corners and a single button on front.")

I know the printers are sold with the loss leader strategy (same as consoles for years after launch), and they say these brewers are, too, (Of course, it's hard for me to believe it when Keurig offers just a one year warranty and I've heard off other keurigs dying around the 2 year mark when Bunn offers a 2 year warranty on a cheaper models, and Green Mountain Coffee has a near monopoly on single serve coffee packs even with third party competition.) But, printers only take the same 3 or so of the same colors. Coffee and tea can come in many flavors, and that means limiting the competition doesn't just funnel the money back your way, but limits the choices customers have for their unique tastes.

So what do you think of all this? Could similar things happen to other household products? (Besides just making the shape of something hard to copy. There's always someone out there reverse engineering proprietary physical connections on consumer goods, to make there own accessories.) What other consumable parts could a greedy company try to control?

TL;DR: Keurig 2.0 stops you from using unofficial (or old, but official) coffee packs that still physically fit their brewers by putting cameras in the machines and printing special labels. They want to stop competition while hiding behind the "it's for the good of our customers" spiel. Welcome to the future, where DRM is in your coffee. The good news is you, as a consumer, can cheat it easily.
 

MeatMachine

Dr. Stan Gray
May 31, 2011
597
0
0
Hairless Mammoth said:
TL;DR: Keurig 2.0 stops you from using unofficial (or old, but official) coffee packs that still physically fit their brewers by putting cameras in the machines and printing special labels. They want to stop competition while hiding behind the "it's for the good of our customers" spiel. Welcome to the future, where DRM is in your coffee. The good news is you, as a consumer, can cheat it easily.
Thank god for a TL;DR.

Also, as a consumer, I can choose not to support this kind of horseshit by not purchasing their collar and dog-chain products. Which I fully intend to do.
 

Trippy Turtle

New member
May 10, 2010
2,117
0
0
Ehhhhh.
Its a bad move by them if they want customers to stay loyal or attract new ones.
But I still feel like they are entitled to do it if they want.
Perhaps Homebrew could help? Pun fully intended.
 

spoonybard.hahs

New member
Apr 24, 2013
101
0
0
Hairless Mammoth said:
TL;DR: Keurig 2.0 stops you from using unofficial (or old, but official) coffee packs that still physically fit their brewers by putting cameras in the machines and printing special labels. They want to stop competition while hiding behind the "it's for the good of our customers" spiel. Welcome to the future, where DRM is in your coffee. The good news is you, as a consumer, can cheat it easily.
They're not so much stopping competition as much as they are slowing it down. The scanner's firmware cannot be updated, so it's only a matter of time before off-brand cups and filters start appearing (especially since the patent expired). Also, there are other brand versions of what K-Cup offers, using both the official & unofficial K-Cup packs and singe-serve filters.
 

V da Mighty Taco

New member
Apr 9, 2011
890
0
0
Trippy Turtle said:
Ehhhhh.
Its a bad move by them if they want customers to stay loyal or attract new ones.
But I still feel like they are entitled to do it if they want.
Perhaps Homebrew could help? Pun fully intended.
If these guys are doing this in the States, then I actually think that it might be illegal on anti-competition grounds. I'm not a lawyer or anything though, but it still seems like the kind of thing that other companies have been taken to court over in the past.

On Topic: Fortunately, I don't drink coffee and thus don't have to worry about accidentally supporting crap like this. Nevertheless, I'll keep the name of Keurig in mind for the next time I see someone I know looking for a coffee brewer, that way I can redirect them towards something that'll actually let them use whatever coffee they feel like.
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

Hella noided
Dec 11, 2009
2,999
0
0
I thought this was already in the system, I mean, printers have DRM(some of them).

I swear, if this shit keeps going the way it does, then I'm scared that we will live in a low-budget 80's corpocratic society within 20 years.

D:

Everyone is free to join me in my bunker btw. We'll bakedbean till the end of the universe!
 

Vendor-Lazarus

Censored by Mods. PM for Taboos
Mar 1, 2009
1,201
0
0
Sigmund Av Volsung said:
I thought this was already in the system, I mean, printers have DRM(some of them).

I swear, if this shit keeps going the way it does, then I'm scared that we will live in a low-budget 80's corpocratic society within 20 years.

D:

Everyone is free to join me in my bunker btw. We'll bakedbean till the end of the universe!
Seeing this trend gain more and more wide-spread use I've already prepared my own bunker.
Perhaps we could dig some sort of tunnel under the Baltic sea though or maybe lay some concrete tubes along the sea floor. ,)
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

Hella noided
Dec 11, 2009
2,999
0
0
Vendor-Lazarus said:
Sigmund Av Volsung said:
I thought this was already in the system, I mean, printers have DRM(some of them).

I swear, if this shit keeps going the way it does, then I'm scared that we will live in a low-budget 80's corpocratic society within 20 years.

D:

Everyone is free to join me in my bunker btw. We'll bakedbean till the end of the universe!
Seeing this trend gain more and more wide-spread use I've already prepared my own bunker.
Perhaps we could dig some sort of tunnel under the Baltic sea though or maybe lay some concrete tubes along the sea floor. ,)
"Hey! What do you think you're doing with my pickled gherkins?"

"Pff! That's rich coming from a herring thief!"

"What did you just say to me?!"

And then we both mount bears like mechas and fight using kayak paddles.

Jeez! Who said that the apocalypse would have to be boring or gloomy? :D
 

DefunctTheory

Not So Defunct Now
Mar 30, 2010
6,438
0
0
BigTuk said:
Heck this is no different than how apple controls it's hardware manufacturers.
No. It's more like how Apple controls its walled garden software operation.

And as we all know, no one thinks that's bullshit... /eyeroll

Just two things... first, the code's already been cracked. And Keurig can't sue them for it.

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/keurig-competitors-crack-companys-drm-code-082814.html

And second, Kuerig is the one getting sued.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/22/lawsuits-claim-k-cup-maker-violates-antitrust-laws/8028197/

So now worries. Looks like this one's already been defeated.
 

immortalfrieza

Elite Member
Legacy
May 2, 2020
2,055
85
53
Country
USA
Sigmund Av Volsung said:
"Hey! What do you think you're doing with my pickled gherkins?"

"Pff! That's rich coming from a herring thief!"

"What did you just say to me?!"

And then we both mount bears like mechas and fight using kayak paddles.

Jeez! Who said that the apocalypse would have to be boring or gloomy? :D
Stealing pickled gherkins. That's a paddlin.

Stealing herring. That's a paddlin.

Mounting bears like mechas and fighting using kayak paddles. Oh you better believe that's a paddlin.
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

Hella noided
Dec 11, 2009
2,999
0
0
immortalfrieza said:
Sigmund Av Volsung said:
"Hey! What do you think you're doing with my pickled gherkins?"

"Pff! That's rich coming from a herring thief!"

"What did you just say to me?!"

And then we both mount bears like mechas and fight using kayak paddles.

Jeez! Who said that the apocalypse would have to be boring or gloomy? :D
Stealing pickled gherkins. That's a paddlin.

Stealing herring. That's a paddlin.

Mounting bears like mechas and fighting using kayak paddles. Oh you better believe that's a paddlin.
A paddle down the Old Man River?

Wahey! It's a road trip! Bring your waifus and sentient boxing gloves, for we are on an adventure! :D
 

gigastar

Insert one-liner here.
Sep 13, 2010
4,419
0
0
So what happened to the days of boiling tapwater and mixing your hot beverages from stuff you bought in a plastic jar?

Yeah, im old fashioned like that.
 

koichi

New member
Sep 22, 2014
11
0
0
gigastar said:
So what happened to the days of boiling tapwater and mixing your hot beverages from stuff you bought in a plastic jar?

Yeah, im old fashioned like that.
It takes time. No one has time anymore.
 

Something Amyss

Aswyng and Amyss
Dec 3, 2008
24,759
0
0
Sigmund Av Volsung said:
I thought this was already in the system, I mean, printers have DRM(some of them).
Technically, it was. This was an Escapist story months ago and was old then.

Thankfully, this is a place where the market's not dominated. If you want to get yourself a coffee maker that uses pods, get one of the older models. Or a brand that still allows generics. Don't buy these, or you make it the standard.

Personally, I'll stick to brewing coffee the old fashioned way. When I brew it at all.
 

Sigmund Av Volsung

Hella noided
Dec 11, 2009
2,999
0
0
Zachary Amaranth said:
Sigmund Av Volsung said:
I thought this was already in the system, I mean, printers have DRM(some of them).
Technically, it was. This was an Escapist story months ago and was old then.

Thankfully, this is a place where the market's not dominated. If you want to get yourself a coffee maker that uses pods, get one of the older models. Or a brand that still allows generics. Don't buy these, or you make it the standard.

Personally, I'll stick to brewing coffee the old fashioned way. When I brew it at all.
Same.

I don't see the point in all these new-fangled coffee machines, when I can just brew up something equally delicious by myself!
 

Something Amyss

Aswyng and Amyss
Dec 3, 2008
24,759
0
0
Sigmund Av Volsung said:
Same.

I don't see the point in all these new-fangled coffee machines, when I can just brew up something equally delicious by myself!
And those cups can get expensive. Though it's possible I'm just cheap.
 

cookyt

New member
Oct 13, 2008
126
0
0
AccursedTheory said:
And second, Kuerig is the one getting sued.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/22/lawsuits-claim-k-cup-maker-violates-antitrust-laws/8028197/

So now worries. Looks like this one's already been defeated.
After reading the story, I find that one of the more heinous aspects of Kuerig's anti-competitive actions is that they seem to be signing contracts with machinery and materials manufacturers that prevent other companies from buying the components they would need to make k-cups. Though the DRM on the foil labels is, I think, very anti-consumer, it has several precedents in other consumer goods. From a legal standpoint, though, locking out competition by not letting them enter the market at all may carry more weight.

Personally, I'd never buy a Kuerig machine because I just don't like the quality of coffee it's produced for me in the past, and this label thing really just solidifies my stance. What's always been worrying to me is the way the kind of walled-garden that Kuerig is trying to build exists in a lot of places, and it's not always met with the degree of universal dislike that I'm seeing here.

To name a few walled-gardens: the locked-down nature of consoles [footnote]I cringe every time I hear the word "exclusive" used positively[/footnote], Apple's approach to software distribution, and the way graphics hardware makers all design their products to deviate from standards in very slight ways so that software doesn't work correctly on competitor machines. Although in several cases there are technological limitations that perpetuate this state, which technologies have these limitations don't always coincide with which have the biggest walls in their gardens.

I have to wonder why the public sees this behavior as more acceptable in some circumstances than others. The only consistent factor I've seen is that people are willing to deal with anti-competitive, closed systems if there's a strong value proposition buried somewhere in there. Apple fans put up with the app store because it it only has high-quality curated content. Steam fans put up with not owning the games they pay for because the steam store drives prices down and steam itself provides a convenient and centralized way of managing games. Though there are people who deny these systems, they are few relative to the number who use them willingly.

The implication is a bit disconcerting: if you keep your users happy, you can indoctrinate them into a way of thinking which fundamentally denies competition from entering your market. I guess that if anything is going to lead to the cyperpunk/megacorporation future, it's going to be this approach to growing a user base. Some other questions I had while writing this: Are there other situations in which a walled-garden is acceptable to the public? Why do we see it as fundamentally wrong that platform creators (Kuerig and co) build their machines however they want?
 

RandV80

New member
Oct 1, 2009
1,507
0
0
These things could be a poster child for convenient wastefulness, wonder how much of these get buried in land fills each year. In an office I used to work for some years ago that used one of these there was a bit of an uproar when it was learned that while we kept the containers in a separate bin for recycling the cleaning staff was actually just tossing them in the garbage at the end of the day because there was nowhere to recycle them.

Bad enough that now they're adding DRM to the things!
 

Imperioratorex Caprae

Henchgoat Emperor
May 15, 2010
5,499
0
0
Glad I own an older Keurig then. This is kind of bullshit in many ways. Hell my wife and I just use the "make your own" coffee K-cup, essentially just a cup that you put coffee grounds in and make singles that way. I wonder if that feature is disabled on the newer machines.