Four lines of code to hop over The New York Times paywall

By on March 22, 2011, 4:21 PM
Dave Eurica, a Canadian reader of the online version of The New York Times, was rather annoyed to find that the website was blocking him from reading a lot of articles. He looked into the matter and found that the "paywall" erected by the publication was written in JavaScript. This means the blocked articles are actually being loaded up in the HTML in the back.

Eurica wrote a bookmarklet that you can put on your bookmarks toolbar to get around the block. Anytime blocks you on a page, all you have to do is click it to show the usual content (it does nothing on any other website). The solution was written in just four lines of code, one of which is a comment:

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

The New York Times subscription plan was officially announced last week. Readers who view more than 20 articles will have to pay $15 a month to access and the paper's mobile app, $20 for the site and its iPad app, or $35 for all three platforms. Subscribers to the physical paper will receive unlimited access across all digital platforms except e-readers.

The block hasn't yet started for everyone: that's going to happen on March 28, 2011. The 20-article cap was first applied to Canada, however, as the site needed time to find unresolved bugs before the feature is slammed by US visitors. Apparently Canadians are just as interested in climbing over virtual walls as their American counterparts are.

User Comments: 8

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posermobile89 said:

What a horrible idea to have to pay but to implement it in java script ... -_-

Love seeing jquery though

posermobile89 said:

Also, I bet they will quickly change this to be server side

Jesse Jesse said:

I imagine this could be labeled as one of the "bugs" they were looking for. Looks like they will have to get a little more creative than using Prototype.

Guest said:

Obvious.. i just don't read the NY Times

Emin3nce said:

I read the latest news without paying... and most sites just counter-source anyway.

Guest said:

...Why exactly is the security on the client-side?

Clearly some intern thought he was being clever.

Guest said:

Technically that's three lines of code and one line of comments.

olibenu said:

ok, so your connection is used to ship the pages from their server to your browser and then you can not see it? not fair!

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