A coffee maker made by Keurig, a unit of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. K-Cups are arranged for a photo in Waterbury, Vt, on July 19, 2010.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Jack Linshi
December 5, 2014

Buying a coffee maker for the holidays? Make sure you get the right coffee pods.

The Keurig 2.0 coffee brewer, made by popular coffee brand Keurig, includes a scanner to ensure the coffee pods it brews are actually made by the company. In other words, your $200 machine won’t work unless you’re using the company’s own K-cups.

The home brewer, released in August, is a move that makes your coffee more like your music files, which in some cases — mostly with older files — are packed with software that prevents you from playing them across multiple devices. Such Digital Rights Management (DRM) code was popular with record labels, which feared non-DRMed songs would be widely pirated. Apple, meanwhile, included DRM in music files purchased on iTunes until 2009, and its defense of that system contributed to landing the company in legal hot water this week.

DRM has fallen out of favor in the music world as fewer people choose to buy and download physical files, opting instead to listen to their tunes on streaming services like Pandora and Spotify. But it seems the concept is getting new life in the coffee industry, thanks to Keurig.

The issue of coffee pods’ digital rights management came into the national spotlight earlier this year when Keurig announced the Keurig 2.0 would have “proprietary interactive capabilities to identify the Keurig pack.” It’s a way for Keurig to protect its coffee pod sales as several private-label pod makers have shook the market ever since several of Keurig’s patents on its pod design expired in 2012.

Keurig’s move, of course, hasn’t come without the company’s fair share of class-action antitrust lawsuits — but none yet have succeeded in stopping the company from using coffee DRM. So if Keurig’s is correct in predicting that its Keurig 2.0 will be a hit this holiday season, then its K-cups will be, too.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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