Panasonic DRMs Camera Batteries

Panasonic have warned customers of certain (unspecified) non-Panasonic batteries because

“Some of these aftermarket batteries are not equipped with internal protective devices to guard against overcharging, internal heating and short circuit. If these aftermarket battery packs were used, it could lead to an accident causing damage to your camera or personal injury.”

So they issued a firmware update to “detect these aftermarket 3rd party batteries so such serious safety issues can be avoided.” Panasonic then warn the user

“After this firmware update your Panasonic Digital Camera cannot be operated by 3rd party batteries (non genuine Panasonic batteries).”

This smells like Panasonic are locking their customers into (expensive) original Panasonic batteries using DRM techniques. Or is it really a safety issue?

I have yet to hear about burning cameras, but there were and continue to be a number of spectacular battery failures involving cell phones and laptop computers. In all of the cases involving laptop computers, the batteries involved are the batteries sold by the laptop manufacturer.

With cell phones, the manufacturers seem to allege that the battery was either 3rd party or that there had been supply chain fraud, i.e. the battery was forged. I do not recall ever seeing these allegations substantiated. And even Nokia have had to recall millions of genuine batteries because they were failing.

I have been unable to find  any proof – or at least substantiating facts – that 3rd party batteries are more likely to fail than OEM batteries. [If you know otherwise, please share your knowledge.] So, on balance of probabilities, is it likely that there really is a substantial risk to Panasonic customers?

I do not know the answer to that question, but I do know that by putting DRM into their cameras, Panasonic can sell more batteries if customers have no choice to buy cheaper batteries.

If, that is, customers continue to buy Panasonic cameras. A long time ago I decided to stop buying product where the manufacturer is trying to lock me into an expensive closed system. So: no devices that require proprietary MemoryStick or xD cards. No proprietary branded batteries with DRM.

On a lighter note: I guess Apple nail this one squarely – no more replaceable batteries at all. 🙂

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