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 nytimes.com 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:
$('overlay').hide();
$('gatewayCreative').hide();
$(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 NYTimes.com 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.


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