Nov 09, 2023

#FreeDMO Gets Rid Of DYMO Label Printer DRM

DYMO 550 series printer marketing blurb says "The DYMO® LabelWriter® 550 Turbo label printer comes with unique Automatic Label Recognition™", which, once translated from marketing-ese, means "this printer has DRM in its goshdarn thermal stickers". Yes, DRM in the stickers that you typically buy in generic rolls. [FREEPDK] didn't like that, either, and documents a #FreeDMO device to rid us of yet another consumer freedom limitation, the true hacker way.

The generic BluePill board and two resistors are all you need, and a few extra cables make the install clean and reversible – you could definitely solder to the DYMO printer's PCBs if you needed, too. Essentially, you intercept the RFID reader connections, where the BluePill acts as an I2C peripheral and a controller at the same time, forwarding the data from an RFID reader and modifying it – but it can also absolutely emulate a predetermined label and skip the reader altogether. If you can benefit from this project's discoveries, you should also take a bit of your time and, with help of your Android NFC-enabled phone, share your cartridge data in a separate repository to make thwarting future DRM improvements easier for all of us.

The wiring instructions are quite clear and easy to follow provided you get the cable with the same color pinout, but a bit of pin rewiring with a needle never hurt anyone. From there, just complete a few usual steps to flash the firmware into the BluePill board, recompiling the code if you’d like to make the wiring simpler or hardcode an already existing type of label. With that, you get label counter rewinding and spoofing, circumventing the restriction that should have never been there in the first place.

True ownership of the devices we get is of utmost importance, helping us get rid of limitations and constraints that make our days worse as they become a trend, and this step in our journey isn't all too different from the way Keurig coffee pod reuse restrictions were circumvented. If we had a nickel for every time someone tried to add DRM into 3D printer filament in the same way Dymo did, we’d have two nickels – which isn't a lot, but it's weird that it happened twice. EFF reported about the Dymo DRM just last month, and a month later, we are glad to see it broken.

Wonder why this is even a problem? It's a complex one and there's too much to talk about for this paragraph, but we have have talked about our justifications and gave some examples for you, as we keep fighting these trends with our tool-assisted protests. As Apple, Lenovo, Xiaomi, BluRay, Nintendo and others try to stop us, we invent new ways and tools to get there anyway.