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The New York Times Paywall Gets Breached

The New York Times decided to adopt a pay-wall subscription based access to its online content. It rolled out subscriptions for users in Canada on 17th March and plans to implement them in the US and other parts of the world, starting 28th March. However, it appears that the pay-wall has already been breached.

It can be easily bypassed with just four lines of code, according to Joshua Benton of Nieman Journalism lab. He mentions that a Canadian coder, David Hayes, has already released a bookmarklet dubbed as NYTClean, which allows readers to access articles even after bypassing their monthly limit of 20 articles. It is interesting to note that NYTimes just puts an overlay on an article accessed after crossing the limit which can be easily circumvented. This, Benton feels, might even be intentional. With web browsers like Firefox, Safari and Chrome that support extensions (there are extensions to remove Facebook ads), a plethora of add-ons that bypass this pay-wall will emerge soon.

The NYTimes has set a monthly limit of 20 free articles on NYTimes.com for users who don’t buy a subscription plan. After crossing this limit they will have to buy a digital subscription. However, the home page at NYTimes.com and all section fronts will remain free to browse for all users at all times. Also, trying to adopt a ‘social media’ friendly approach, readers who land on NYTimes articles through search engines, blogs and social media including Facebook and Twitter, will be able to access them, even after crossing their free monthly limits.

Search engines, however, will have a daily limit for free links. As Peter Kafka of AllThingsD points out, this includes Google, which will have a daily limit of 5 articles. An NYTimes spokesperson informed TechCrunch that the 5 articles per day limit applies to all ‘major search engines’, without getting into specifics.

Subscription Plans:

– For users who subscribe to the print version of The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune, there will be no additional charges whatsoever on the NYTimes website or apps. Print subscriptions are offered at $5.85 per week to New York based subscribers and $7.40 to subscribers living outside NY.

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– On NYTimes’ Smartphone and Tablet apps, the Top News section will be free while other sections will require a digital subscription.

Digital Subscription plans are as follows:

  • NYTimes.com + Smartphone access (For Blackberry, Android & iPhone) – $15 for 4 weeks
  • NYTimes.com + Tablet access (iPad, Times Reader 2.0) – $20 for 4 weeks
  • All Digital Access combining NYTimes.com, Smartphone and Tablet access- $35 for 4 weeks

It will have a special introductory offer on 28th March as well. These can be purchased on the NYTimes website or through Apple’s subscription services.

In India, print is still the dominant news medium, and most newspapers have free access to online content. Some news publications had their epaper behind a paywall for a while, and others, like Business Standard had put their archives behind a paywall. The Wall Street Journal also has monthly and yearly subscription plans for Print+Digital, and only digital and mobile app access plans for India. We doubt many Indian’s will pay for news online, given that a lot of the content is “agency copy” from newswire services.

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