• Is the NYT paywall this easy to jump?

    From techdirt:

    As we continue to explore the NY Times’ bizarrely pointless paywall, it comes as no surprise that the wall itself is barely any wall at all. It’s not even a fence. It’s basically a bunch of fenceposts, and someone screaming: “Pay no attention to your own eyes. There is a fence here, and you should go round the front and pay at the entrance… unless someone sent you here. Then walk on through.” That, of course, is bizarre, and it means that most people will never actually see any fence at all. But it gets even more bizarre when you discover that the “paywall” itself has apparently been written in javascript, meaning that when you do hit the wall, the full article you want to read actually loads in the HTML, it’s just then blocked by some script asking you to pay up. That means it’s even easier to remove than many had predicted (no need to even delete cookies or any such nonsense). In fact, that link above points people to NYTClean, a four-line javascript bookmarklet, that makes it easy to remove the paywall with (literally) the click of a button, should you actually encounter it.

    Turns out there may be an even simpler way to jump the fence: turn off javascript. I barely know what that means, and I certainly don’t know if it works. But the folks at techdirt do. They’re also worried about the legality of this, whether it violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Beats me. Just in case it does: do not try this. But if you do anyway, let me know how it goes.

    Later: If defeating the paywall as suggested at techdirt is, in fact, legal, then the NY Times has implemented a form of price discrimination whereby the technically savvy pay less than those who don’t know any better. And, yes, there would seem to be an arbitrage opportunity in that. Theoretically, it should not work. The paywall should crumble.

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    • I don\’t understand. NPR has no paywall, just a nag. Many people voluntarily support the stations, because they like the programming. You presumably like the NYT\’s content (otherwise you won\’t care if there\’s a paywall or not). But you are contemplating ways to get around what NYT asks for. What gives? If you like it so much, why not just pay?

      • @Dan – In truth I read very little of the NYT. However, if they want payment so much why make the wall so flimsy?

        • Flimsy or not, it does not matter. If a store has no electronic tags on the products, do you put them in your pocket and walk out? If the clerk happens to be not watching, do you grab the chocolate and gum on your way out too? If you are technically savvy, you can download music and movies from bit torrents. You call it price discrimination on people who should know better?

          • @Dan – Did you notice I raised the issue of legality? If it is legal to take the content without paying, why does their request for payment have any more meaning than an appeal from a charity? I don’t pay money to every charity, even ones I support. Do you? Why don’t you pay even more?

            If it is illegal to circumvent the paywall, then the analogy to shoplifting holds. But I never suggested circumvention was OK if it was illegal.

            How much do you pay the NYT? If they need the money so badly, why don’t you pay more? See where I’m going here? A flimsy paywall creates a free-rider problem. They seem to be inviting it. You should be upset with the NYT!

    • The javascript removes the paywall announcement on my ipad, but leaves me unable to scroll past first few paragraphs.

    • @Dan, That’s not a good analogy. Right now, I can get to every NYT article, without hitting a paywall, but getting there from the NTY’s own twitter feed, @nytimes. So your “no electronic tags” scenario is not quite parallel. The better parallel is a scenario where, in order to get to the food court where food is free for anyone who gets in, all I have to do is navigate through a store I hate, Macy’s say. I have go through all the escalators and departments that annoy me, just to get to something that interests me (the free food). That is what it feels like when I am forced to look through all the NYT articles in the twitter feed that I couldn’t care less about. If someone found a way to get to the entrance of the food court more expeditiously (the food is still free for those who get there), we would judge them less harshly than the people in your scenario who shoplift because there are no electronic tags.