Paywall On-Ramps Get A Workaround

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Remember BugMeNot.com? The site was started in 2003 to let users, peeved by a growing crop of news site registration walls, borrow someone else’s login.

Seven years on – for registration wall workaround, read pay wall hack. Web developers have made BreakThePayWall, a browser extension that helps users overcome part of news publishers’ subscription strategy.

Available for Internet Explorer and soon, Firefox, BreakThePayWall works mainly by deleting cookies sites use to limit the number of stories users can read before having to subscribe. Deleting the cookies means the publisher’s site forgets how close the reader is to the “pay up” threshold.

In theory, it could be a challenge to those that use Google’s First-Click-Free scheme, which publishers can use to let searchers read only up to five articles per month before subscribing. No BreakThePayWall user numbers are available and the hack seems unlikely to severely impact publishers’ strategies because it has not gained widespread attention on the web.

But it is a clear response to the recent re-emergence of paywalls and may prompt proprietors to think of new techniques. It’s basically a sign of the times.

Web users can already employ the same technique by manually deleting cookies in their browser; BreakThePayWall just tries to make it easier.

“The paywall thing came about because of our annoyance at how easy it is to get around them,” BreakThePayWall’s developer, who did not give his name, told me. “Lots of compromises are made and basic security not adhered to. The utility currently uses cookie and referrer techniques – we have not come across any other techniques… yet.”

BreakThePayWall is thought to have piqued the interest of FT.com, which uses First-Click-Free to give five free articles per month to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) searchers.

The developer is also working on a hack that lets users more easily claim compensation for train delays.

2 Comments

ASmallVoiceOfReason

Sadly there is no “dislike” button for MecBenzFan’s comment above. The plugin doesn’t defraud anyone or deprive any company or corporation of income that they would not have otherwise got. The user of the plugin would not have otherwise paid for access to further content — content which, I would point out, is available and free to any other person in the world who comes along with what appears to be a new “browsing session”. This is not hacking, it is not a felony, and there is no place for MBF’s use of hyperbole to instil mistrust and fear.

mercbenzfan

Are the people behind this scam guilty of a conspiracy to commit fraud or obtaining copyright intellectual property by deception? or worse – incitement to commit a felony?

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