Defeating the NYT paywall
March 23, 2011 12:09 PM   Subscribe

4 lines of Javascript defeats the NYT paywall popup. NYTClean is a script which does the deed.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (88 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
That didn't take long.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:09 PM on March 23, 2011


This won't last. The overlay is probably temporary until they can push code all over the site to check everyone's credentials.
posted by splatta at 12:14 PM on March 23, 2011


Every-where we turn, the "computer hackers" with the "programs" are infringing our precious copyright, diluting our intellectual capital, drinking our very life's blood.

Gentlemen, the situation before us is dire, and the solution, though distasteful, is obvious: we must dismantle the Internet.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:16 PM on March 23, 2011 [16 favorites]


Previously: the paywall announcement.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on March 23, 2011


Newscientist.com had that same problem a while back. A lack of Firebug was the only thing between the reader and full access to all their content. They have since stopped pushing all their content to the page for restricted articles. I guess when your entire audience is nerds, you can't afford to leave such obvious holes in place.
posted by rocketpup at 12:17 PM on March 23, 2011


Here's the code itself, if anyone's curious:

//Prototype is already installed on NYTimes pages, so I'll use that:
$('overlay').hide();
$('gatewayCreative').hide();
$(document.body).setStyle( { overflow:'scroll' } );


Technically it's three lines and a comment.
posted by theodolite at 12:18 PM on March 23, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Times does know about it. [Mostly about the Twitter, but there's a thing about NYTClean at the end.]
posted by ego at 12:18 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even if they fix this (relatively obvious) security flaw, there's still the problem that they allow anyone to view unlimited articles from all non-search-engine external links. So you could just as easily have a hack tricks NYT into thinking you are coming from an external link.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:18 PM on March 23, 2011


Ugh, the Twitter workaround*. Wasn't trying for that affectation.
posted by ego at 12:19 PM on March 23, 2011


The paywall's not for you, it's for your mom.
posted by theodolite at 12:20 PM on March 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


Wow, this hole in the paywall is so obvious that one wonders if it was intended. But, as usual, my money is on plain old incompetence. I think they will fix it, if nothing else because they can't afford to look incompetent.
posted by Triplanetary at 12:22 PM on March 23, 2011


The freeNYTimes twitter has now been suspended.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 12:23 PM on March 23, 2011


File this one under Building a Mighty Dam in the Middle of the Ocean.

FWIW - we subscribe to the NYT dead-tree edition (7 days a week in CA, I'm not even $ure how much it all co$t$) the same way others have a membership to public radio. Just to support what they do for the world. So when we don't have the time to possibly read it all every day, we can at least take some comfort from this rationalization.
posted by squalor at 12:24 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if they use the same method to obscure archive articles. I'd tracked down a potential obit in an article from the 1850s in the NYT, but they didn't even have a text-snippet for me to confirm that I wanted to waste my money on it.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:25 PM on March 23, 2011


Hm. Looks like @FreeNYTimes was the only one shut down, out of the few I'd seen, but I am no snitch.
posted by ego at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2011


...as far as I can tell it’s just a set of divs generated by some javascript.

NYT paywall, or the whole darn Web?
posted by squalor at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


Come on, this is easy for NYT to fix. Just sue the companies releasing web browsers until they remove the View Source button. Problem solved!
posted by Triplanetary at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there reason why we don't have a non-profit newspaper of record? Funded by subscriptions? If NPR can work (mostly) without govt funding, why isn't there a print (or online) equivalent?
posted by leotrotsky at 12:28 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hide all my content behind an overlay of prolix logorrheic pleopnastical sesquipedalianism.

Hah! Defeat that, 4 lines of Javascript!
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:29 PM on March 23, 2011


What we need is 4 lines of Javascript that can generate all the articles in the NYT.
posted by storybored at 12:31 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If NPR can work (mostly) without govt funding, why isn't there a print (or online) equivalent?

NPR isn't a good example, because it depends on their programs being bought by regional stations which depend on government money.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 12:32 PM on March 23, 2011


Visualizing the price of digital subscriptions. The Rent Is Too Damn High!
posted by fixedgear at 12:34 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I have to subscribe to a twitter feed to read the NYT for free, then it's not free. THE PRICE IS YOUR SOUL
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:35 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Is this something I'd need 4 lines of Javascript to care about?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:36 PM on March 23, 2011


Nope. Just three lines and a comment.
posted by rusty at 12:38 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


As I mentioned in the other thread, I got an email saying Lincoln would sponsor me. Go go Gen X ad demographic!
posted by immlass at 12:39 PM on March 23, 2011


What we need is 4 lines of Javascript that can generate all the articles in the NYT.


var content = (whatTheRightSays - whatTheCentristSays) / 2;
content += SUCKUP_TO_GOVERNMENT_FACTOR;
content += SUCKUP_TO_BUSINESS_FACTOR;
$('.content').html(content);

posted by callmejay at 12:41 PM on March 23, 2011 [18 favorites]


Shoving a candy bar down the front of my pants defeats the security guard at the drug store. Wow -- that's all it takes and I get to eat for free. It's so easy, it's almost like they want me to shoplift. Paying for candy bars is for my mom, and other suckers who don't realize that high fructose corn syrup (may contain nuts) is meant to be free.
posted by Buffaload at 12:43 PM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've found that a far superior solution is to stop reading the NYT. I did it and...
posted by mullingitover at 12:44 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is that a candybar in your pocket, or are you just high fructose corn syrup (may contain nuts)?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:45 PM on March 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


Seems like it's more of a payfence than a paywall.
posted by mike_bling at 12:48 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If NPR can work (mostly) without govt funding, why isn't there a print (or online) equivalent?

Because having to read a fundraising article for several hours every few weeks would suck even more than listening to an NPR fundraising drive.
posted by The World Famous at 12:49 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Security model, business model, pricing model it's all so poorly thought out. The pay wall doesn't work. Even if it could work $35/month that's ridiculous.
posted by humanfont at 1:03 PM on March 23, 2011


So is NoScript considered a circumvention device under the DMCA? Seriously - while I personally use NoScript as a security measure, NYTClean is clearly built (okay, "marketed") with a singular purpose in mind - to bypass methods designed to control access to copywritten works. I thought the DMCA was designed to legislate away all these pesky hackers and their meddlesome scripts!
posted by antonymous at 1:15 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to make sure I'm getting this. Rather than check your credentials then serve you the content like, say, every porn site or other subscribed-based service since approximately 1857, they serve you the content, then essentially cover it up with a HTML sticker if you lack credentials?

This has to be deliberate.
posted by Jimbob at 1:19 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just to make sure I'm getting this. Rather than check your credentials then serve you the content like, say, every porn site or other subscribed-based service since approximately 1857, they serve you the content, then essentially cover it up with a HTML sticker if you lack credentials?

I think Financial Times works this way, too. And there was some website I went to in the last month which would serve the entire webpage, then cover it up with a login screen... After reloading it about 5 times, I finally clicked the stop-loading button at the right point and could read the article I wanted, because of how everything loaded in.

Web designers sometimes don't take internet latency into account.
posted by hippybear at 1:26 PM on March 23, 2011


Rather than check your credentials then serve you the content like, say, every porn site or other subscribed-based service since approximately 1857, they serve you the content, then essentially cover it up with a HTML sticker if you lack credentials?

Another brilliant technique pioneered by the fine web team at Expert Sex Change.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 1:29 PM on March 23, 2011 [7 favorites]


The paywall's not for you, it's for your mom.

Ok, but it's literally five minutes of any reasonably competent engineer's time to package this up as a Firefox extension, at which point it can be installed in two clicks. My mom can do that, and she wouldn't even have to think about if someone did it for her. It takes a lot more than two clicks to sign up for their monthly service. Better yet, when the Times breaks this particular trick, you can update the extension to work around the Times' workaround and every user will get an automatic update.

As long as they plan to allow access to a limited number of articles for anonymous users or they want to let people read unlimited articles linked from external sites, there will always be fairly simple ways around the paywall. Basically, the Times can spend its time creating an increasingly elaborate system of countermeasures that break the web as part of a cat-and-mouse game with hackers defeating the paywall, or they can have the paywall equivalent of a "please keep off the grass" sign and let the chips fall where they may. I'm curious what approach they will take.
posted by zachlipton at 1:29 PM on March 23, 2011


$45 million and defeated by 99 characters? That's $454,545 a character.
posted by geoff. at 1:39 PM on March 23, 2011


As explained above, the blocking is all based on leveraging how your browser works: The whole article loads but the browser's prevented from letting you see it. The tiny chunk of script prevents that blocking thingy from loading.

I would imagine that once they're imposing the paywall on everybody, the article won't even be sent to the browser; all that gets loaded is the frame around the article and a message of "nuh uh, you're at your limit for the day".

That would be pretty easy to defeat in a lasting way too, based on what we know about the access rules, but it's going to take more work than a three-liner.

I don't begrudge the Times setting up a paywall. The NY Times app for the iPad was bad out of the gate, but the Times has been quietly improving it, and it's a decent reader now, if nothing more than that - it would benefit from simple amenities like the ability to copy quotes and article links to paste elsewhere, for example. It would be worth paying for (in contrast to News Corp's The Daily, where I feel like they owe me money for having looked at it).

The revenue model for getting The Times electronically will be painfully convoluted and inexplicably contrarian, to put it mildly. This isn't the first time The Times has imposed a bizarre payment scheme and then backpedaled later, so there's an air of inevitable failure around this attempt too.
posted by ardgedee at 1:42 PM on March 23, 2011


The Times does know about it. [Mostly about the Twitter, but there's a thing about NYTClean at the end.]

Reading this, they apparently asked Twitter to shut down the account because @FreeNYTimes violates their trademark. It will just pop up again as @icanhaztehnewz and that approach won't work. The Times can try to start blocking pageviews that come from a list of blacklisted Twitter streams, but referrer sniffing like this would be problematic if it works all.

That would be pretty easy to defeat in a lasting way too, based on what we know about the access rules, but it's going to take more work than a three-liner.

They might well do this, but then we're talking about maybe fifteen lines of code to defeat it. Still not exactly a big deal.

I don't begrudge the Times setting up a paywall.

I don't either to be honest, but this isn't really a paywall. The whole scheme is more like when you're over at your buddy Pete's place a lot and sometimes he offers you a beer out of the fridge and once when he was in the shower you helped yourself to a slice or two of leftover pizza and then there was that time you borrowed his drill for like two months, and when you came to return it, you also brought your friend to crash on his couch for a couple days. There was also that time you got his Costco card confiscated when you tried to use it because you thought you looked more or less alike. Pete eventually says he doesn't mind you mooching at all, but once you mooch a bunch of stuff from him in a month, you can't have any more free stuff unless you pay him a couple bucks, but you can also mooch away if one of Pete's other friends tells you to call Pete first, and you can have five extra free favors a day when you call directory assistance to get his number instead of speed dialing it. That's not a paywall, it's a pay sieve, and Pete desperately needs a copy of When I Say No, I feel guilty.
posted by zachlipton at 2:00 PM on March 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Let's keep in mind here that the NY Times is the organization who, allegedly anyway, badgered the owners of Grand Central Terminal (at the time, I think American Financial Group, a subsidiary of AIG) into installing "pilfer-proof" recycling bins to replace the open-topped newspaper recycling bins that they'd been using ... all in order to keep people from re-reading newspapers.

I wouldn't put anything below them.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:20 PM on March 23, 2011


Here's one line of javascript that will fix it for you:
window.location = 'http://news.google.com';
posted by blue_beetle at 2:31 PM on March 23, 2011


If NPR can work (mostly) without govt funding, why isn't there a print (or online) equivalent?

Ironic. People say they value the NYT, but the value they place on it is zero.

If people value the NYT they should be willing to pay for it.
posted by three blind mice at 2:33 PM on March 23, 2011


the paywall equivalent of a "please keep off the grass" sign

That's a fantastic analogy.
posted by theodolite at 2:46 PM on March 23, 2011


This won't last. The overlay is probably temporary until they can push code all over the site to check everyone's credentials.
They said they know and that they don't care. They have ads on the site and they still make money if you use NYTClean to view their pages, just not as much.

In fact, the counter is actually cookie based, not tied with your account. Which means that if you have multiple computers, or multiple browsers, or no how to use incognito mode in chrome, you're good to go without doing anything special at all.
posted by delmoi at 2:47 PM on March 23, 2011


They should call it a pay fence.
posted by delmoi at 2:48 PM on March 23, 2011


@FreeNYTimes may be suspended, but since it was based on a trademark claim, there's now @FreeUnnamedNews.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:53 PM on March 23, 2011


Pay forcefield?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:53 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]




Gentlemen, The link, she is not closed properly!
posted by oxford blue at 3:03 PM on March 23, 2011


Ironic. People say they value the NYT, but the value they place on it is zero.

If people value the NYT they should be willing to pay for it.


The only way that NYT's subscription model will work is if a relatively small subset of their overall audience agrees to pay a relatively high amount for a subscription. I have no idea if it will work in the context of their specific operating costs, but in theory they don't need to restrict access to their content any more than NPR needs to scramble their signal for people who don't donate. If you sell a physical product, you have worry about per unit costs. But if the cost of having an audience outside of the people who are paying you is negligible, then charging the people who do really care more and charging everyone else nothing can work. It's basically the same concept of Kickstarter, but with an ongoing subscription instead of a one-time upfront payment.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:21 PM on March 23, 2011


I know, I know: INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE. You know what isn't free? Sending reporters all over the world to bring back the news. Hiring editors to fact check it. Hiring layout dudes to make it readable.

Everyone here grouses about OH THAT FOX NEWS WHY DONT THEY HAVE FACT CHECKERS. Here is an organization with fact checkers- And you still won't pony up. No one was bitching when you paid a buck, 2 bucks a day for the NYT. Why are you all so grumpy when they handed you a 50-75% off cover price for a version of their coverage that can literally be accessed from a dozen different devices anywhere in the fucking world?

Pay. The. Money. It's worth it.
posted by GilloD at 3:27 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


GilloD, I don't think anyone here is disputing that the NYT is a business and has costs etc. The concerns seem based around the way in which they have decided to pursue a profit.
posted by oxford blue at 3:40 PM on March 23, 2011


This is not the result of incompetence, one thing you can buy for $45 million is a cost / benefit analysis of "put up an easily evaded paywall" versus "allow access based on referrers from twitter, google, etc." I think their whole paywall approach is not very smart, business-wise, but I don't think that how easily it is circumvented is the result of a technical oversight, it's a conscious choice on their part that was surely vetted by their upper management.
posted by whir at 3:45 PM on March 23, 2011


No one was bitching when you paid a buck, 2 bucks a day for the NYT.

This is marginally accurate, if only because I interact with the NYT on a 1-2 instance per year basis and not in a way that required my money.
posted by Phyltre at 3:59 PM on March 23, 2011


This is product management 101. You are telling me all about how much this costs you make your product, and nothing about the value to the customer. The cost of your product has nothing to do with price. Pricing is all about the value delivered to the customer. Right now the perceived value of the Times vs. other news media is low, especially online where there is unlimited choice and tons of good news. To have any pricing power, you must offer some kind of distinguishing capability to the customer that separates you from the alternatives.

When we look at the current products of the New York Times website we have news, editorial and opinion. None of this is particularly distinctive. Say they stopped covering Libya tomorrow, who would notice. Occasionally they have in depth features on a particular topic, with inforgraphics and deep analysis of tons of information. If they could develop a distinctive competency in publishing deep news features, then that might be worth paying a premium for. Consider "The Elements" iPad app. It took tons of public information and repackaged it in a distinctive and highly useful way. They were able to combine this with the micropayment infrastructure the Apple App store and increase their revenues substantially over their free web based tool.

The Times would be better off building its audience and brand through its public website and then developing specialized information products for selected audiences.
posted by humanfont at 4:08 PM on March 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Say they stopped covering Libya tomorrow, who would notice.

A lot of people would notice if the New York Times suddenly stopped covering Libya.
posted by The World Famous at 4:14 PM on March 23, 2011


But if the cost of having an audience outside of the people who are paying you is negligible, then charging the people who do really care more and charging everyone else nothing can work.

Maybe, but not for very long. What you're doing is to create a huge incentive for free riding, and if readers can get your content for free, not very many will be willing to pay for it.

And if you make the price high, that simply induces even more people to free ride.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 4:50 PM on March 23, 2011


TWF: "A lot of people would notice if the New York Times suddenly stopped covering Libya."

Yes, I'd definitely raise an eyebrow for a moment, then continue reading BBC News.
posted by mullingitover at 5:18 PM on March 23, 2011


Shoving a candy bar down the front of my pants defeats the security guard at the drug store.

Ugh, not the unauthorized reading is equivalent to theft canard.

This is more like reading an article in the drug store without buying the magazine.
posted by callmejay at 6:08 PM on March 23, 2011


How much of the NY Times coverage of Libya is actually their original reporting anyway, and how much is just regurgitating wire stories and readily accessible information formthe BBC, AJ, etc. If they didn't have any on the ground reporters covering the story, would you really notice, if the headlines kept running. Have you noticed how much they've cut back already.
posted by humanfont at 6:37 PM on March 23, 2011


Ironic. People say they value the NYT, but the value they place on it is zero.

If people value the NYT they should be willing to pay for it.


There are, or once were, values beyond the merely monetary.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:39 PM on March 23, 2011


Put your money where your mouse is.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:46 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can defeat the paywall at dinner with just 2 lines:
// Fuck you!
tip = 0.00
Not that reading more than 20 articles in a month is unethical, or that I don't try to get out of paying some things, but the whole system isn't defeated just because some people are cheapskates.
posted by domnit at 7:22 PM on March 23, 2011


When asked about circumventing the pay wall, publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. thinks it will just be "mostly high-school kids and people who are out of work."
posted by asterisk at 7:50 PM on March 23, 2011


you used to love me for free, babe
but there's a paywall now
you say you need a shiny diamond ring
but honey i don't know how
see i lost my job, down at the fact'ry
can't even pay my rent
now you wanna make me pay for love, sweet mama
but all my money done been spent

honey my heart's in a spiraling free fall
you got me standing out in front of your paywall
you won't even answer my phone call
you got me standing out in front of your paywall
standing out in front of your paywall
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:04 PM on March 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


callmejay: "Shoving a candy bar down the front of my pants defeats the security guard at the drug store.

Ugh, not the unauthorized reading is equivalent to theft canard.

This is more like reading an article in the drug store without buying the magazine
"

Or, perhaps even more accurately, like reading an article in the drug store without buying the newspaper.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:52 PM on March 23, 2011


If you're havin' news problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 characters and the paywall's done
posted by azpenguin at 9:42 PM on March 23, 2011


I saw that article earlier this morning so I got curious found a Canadian proxy (google knows all) plugged the numbers into Firefox and experimented. Clicked on 20 articles; by number 5 it gave me pop up warnings telling me I had so many free clicks left. 20 articles total and the very bogus paywall comes up.

So I wonder how are they tracking the number of clicks I do? I don;t have an NYT account. So I delete my NTY cookies - maybe 5 or 6 mouse clicks and 20 seconds out of my life.

And lo and behold I can read another 20 articles.....

So the whole paywall is poorly implemented. If they are going to charge that freaking much for their dubious journalism (Judith Miller) they could at least do it competently. The whole experience bodes bad things coming in the near future for the Gray Lady.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:01 AM on March 24, 2011


Not that reading more than 20 articles in a month is unethical, or that I don't try to get out of paying some things, but the whole system isn't defeated just because some people are cheapskates.
The NYT didn't seem to have any problem making money on free content in the past. I think the problem people have with this is that they can't link to the NYT anymore. Of course they can but only with the proper referrer, which is actually even more annoying. I can send you a link in twitter, but not through IRC or something. Could I post a link in a metafilter comment? It's not clear.

One thing they could do that would be cool would to create URL tokens for subscribers who want to link to the articles on a per-article basis. That would be a huge incentive for bloggers to subscribe. The NYT would also get to know who their biggest social promoters are, and give them free t-shirts or something. (They should be paying me!)

I think web-savvy people are just kind of insulted by this ineffective system. They didn't have any problem putting in a 'real' pay wall years ago for timeselect, so it isn't like they don't know how to do it.
posted by delmoi at 1:55 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think web-savvy people are just kind of insulted by this ineffective system. They didn't have any problem putting in a 'real' pay wall years ago for timeselect, so it isn't like they don't know how to do it.

I draw the opposite conclusion. Of course NYT knows how to set up a "real" paywall--they chose a more liberal implementation. They could try to keep a stranglehold on their content, but with their lax approach, multiple readers at a single IP address each have their own count, and logins aren't needed. Instead of extracting a few extra pennies using a strong technological barrier, they are simply counting how many articles you read and asking you to pay if you read regularly. There are lots of systems that require payment but don't strictly enforce it, and it's not insulting to be trusted to pay.
posted by domnit at 4:13 AM on March 24, 2011


The paywall's not for you, it's for your mom.

And this is why everyone needs to learn to program. Not to get free NYT articles. But as Daniel Rushkoff puts it: "Program or be programmed."

The haves always control the have-nots: The literate can control the illiterate. The educated can control the uneducated. The progammers can control the non-programmers.
posted by DU at 5:10 AM on March 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they are planing on suing those who circumvent their protections. Find a couple of companies and universities who are full of people thwarting the rules and then shake them down for site licenses. That would make the $35/month fee useful for negotiation purposes.
posted by humanfont at 5:35 AM on March 24, 2011




Shoving a candy bar down the front of my pants defeats the security guard at the drug store.

Ugh, not the unauthorized reading is equivalent to theft canard.

This is more like reading an article in the drug store without buying the magazine.


You can't just call it a canard. If you have to deactivate a pay wall in order to get free content, even if it's easy, how is that not stealing?
posted by Buffaload at 11:54 AM on March 24, 2011


I wonder if they are planing on suing those who circumvent their protections. Find a couple of companies and universities who are full of people thwarting the rules and then shake them down for site licenses. That would make the $35/month fee useful for negotiation purposes.

I doubt it. The Times sells the paper at deep discounts to schools and universities ($2.50/week for Monday-Friday). That even includes individual subscriptions for students and faculty, so there's a money saving tip for you guys :) A lot of colleges buy bulk subscriptions and distribute the papers for free on campus at an even greater discount, though they have apparently been jacking up the price a lot lately. When they did TimesSelect, anyone at one of these colleges could get the online access for free too, and I can see a similar offering happening here. Apparently they are looking at discounted access. The music industry made a lot of its money from students, but the Times doesn't and a lot of their advertisers aren't particularly interested in targeting college students anyway.

As far as companies go, the Times needs advertisers and good relationships with businesses. I can't see how shaking down large companies for site licenses wouldn't backfire, and there's little point in going after small businesses over this. It doesn't make sense to harass businesses for site licenses when those businesses can pull their multi-million dollar advertising buys.

Strangely, the Times isn't offering any kind of institutional access program for their paywall at all now, which is making some librarians freak out a bit. I suppose most library computers clear their cookies between browsing sessions, resetting the counter, so perhaps libraries won't really be triggering the paywall at all?
posted by zachlipton at 12:12 PM on March 24, 2011


Metafiler: Mostly high-school kids and people who are out of work.
posted by banshee at 2:19 PM on March 24, 2011


You can't just call it a canard. If you have to deactivate a pay wall in order to get free content, even if it's easy, how is that not stealing?
Well, if the person who owns gas station is running around saying "We're not doing anything to prevent people from taking candybars, but we only expect high-school students and unemployed people to take candy-bars without paying" would you really expect people not to take them if they didn't feel like paying? There's a clear expectation that not everyone is going to pay.

This is a gas station where each bar has an ad on the wrapper and gets paid (more then the cost of the bar itself) by the advertiser whether or not it's stolen. The more bars get stolen, the more money they make. On the other hand, if no one pays they won't be able to pay rent even if everyone who wants a candybar takes as many as they want.

So it's kind of a hard problem. If they lock everything down with tight security, they won't push enough free bars out the door. On the other hand if no one pays, they're also screwed.

It's a difficult problem to solve. But simply choosing not to view NYT content doesn't do them any favors at all.
posted by delmoi at 3:07 PM on March 24, 2011


... like when you're over at your buddy Pete's place a lot and sometimes he offers you a beer out of the fridge...

More like Pete invites you over to watch The Big Fight on pay-per-view, and while he's in the bathroom you switch the TV to the porn channel he also subscribes to.

When you take a beer from my fridge I no longer have use of that beer.
posted by phliar at 3:24 PM on March 24, 2011


>You can't just call it a canard. If you have to deactivate a pay wall in order to get free content,
>even if it's easy, how is that not stealing?

On your front porch , each and every day, I place delicious cupcake treats with a little note: send me $35 for each cupcake that you take.

Each and every day, regardless of whether you take one or not, I place a new batch of yummy cupcakes right on your front doorstop . Every day. Same exorbitant price. Your doorstep.

How soon will it be before you say , "fuck the 35 bucks I'm grabbing a cupcake!"?
The next day , new batch and no complaints after you take one.
What will you do?

That's how it is not stealing.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:59 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


And to reiterate what I was saying above: In real terms, you are actively hurting them by not 'stealing'. Looking at the content while paying is the best for them. On the other hand looking it without paying is also good. Not paying and not looking is actually the worst of all.
posted by delmoi at 6:10 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd say that not paying, looking, and then deliberately misrepresenting what you saw would be the worst of all, but maybe that's just me.
posted by hippybear at 7:12 PM on March 24, 2011


I'd say that not paying, looking, and then deliberately misrepresenting what you saw would be the worst of all

No, no. Not paying, looking, and then deliberately misrepresenting what you saw and THEN going and killing someone. That would be the worst of all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:16 PM on March 24, 2011


How soon will it be before you say , "fuck the 35 bucks I'm grabbing a cupcake!"?
The next day , new batch and no complaints after you take one.
What will you do?

That's how it is not stealing.



Your justification is elaborate. There's a product. With a price tag. You find a simple way to destroy that price tag, or to walk past the cash register without paying.

Stealing.
posted by Buffaload at 7:19 PM on March 24, 2011


Isn't the better metaphor sneaking into a show without paying the cover? Or maybe just not fulfilling the two drink minimum?
posted by nobody at 8:36 PM on March 24, 2011




I love this cupcake metaphor!

So in addition to the $35 cupcakes left on my porch, there are also piles and piles of free cupcakes. They all pretty much taste the same. I have no problems ignoring the pretentious $35 cupcakes.
posted by mullingitover at 5:07 PM on April 6, 2011


Just playing with this. It still works great a almost a month into the pay wall. If you use Firefox, you can also easily defeat the pay wall by just turning page style off under "view."
posted by Brodiggitty at 5:50 AM on April 15, 2011


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