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March 24, 2011

New York Times Paywall Workaround

In a February post we discussed the upcoming New York Times pay wall, restricting non-subscribers to 20 views per month.

The subscription to the online content is not a trivial expense: $15, $20, or $35 every four weeks, depending on if you want web, iPad, or smartphone access. Clever how they've arranged for 13 monthly payments each year.

There's a few workarounds.

The Twitter Hack We're told that you'll be able to follow unlimited Twitter links to NYTimes content, and it's possible that some people might just post some very comprehensive links to that content on a Twitter page.

The Bing Hack (aka The BingHole) The Globe and Mail suggests:
  • Browse The New York Times home page or any section front, which is free.
  • Copy the headline of a story you want to read.
  • Paste the headline into a search engine (but not Google) (ex: Bing)
  • Clicking on the matching New York Times link will take you to the story, which you can read without charge.

The Bookmarklet Hack The Neiman Journalism Lab at Harvard brings this article: Four Lines of Code to Break the NY Times Paywall. From the article,
Canadian coder David Hayes has just released NYTClean, a bookmarklet that, in one click, tears down the Times’ paywall. The code is elegant and clean, and consists of this:
$(document.body).setStyle( { overflow:'scroll' } );

In order to implement Hayes' hack, you need to display the Bookmarks toolbar in your browser. (View, Toolbars, Bookmarks). Then when you go to NYTClean, just drag the "bokmarklet" onto your browser Bookmarks toolbar. That's it, you're done.

When you go to the NYTimes and the paywall blocks access to read the page, just click on the NYTClean bookmarklet, and you should be able to view the content.

Bloomberg reports that the NYTimes is spending between $40M and $50M to implement the paywall.

Holy Assymetrical Conflict, Batman!

To be sure, as they say, these kludges work for the Canadian paywall, and it may be that there's a more clever paywall scheme for the United States. We'll see.


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