The New York Times Paywall Goes Up, But is Easily Torn Down

The New York Times launched its long-awaited paywall on Monday, but the material it's made of is full of holes and is easily bypassed.

Basically, the New York Times Paywall, which has been in planning for a year, allows 20 visits per person per month. Once you exceed that, you will see a pop-up message that asks you to subscribe. Those who have Kindle subscriptions to the NYT, or print subscriptions, will have unlimited access. It's unclear if the NOOK (Barnes and Noble) has the same access; the Kindle access was only announced on Monday along with the erection of the paywall.

Simply stated, the subscription fees are as follows:

  • $15 for four weeks of access to NYTimes.com and a mobile phone app.
  • $20 for four weeks of access to NYTimes.com and its iPad app.
  • $35 for four weeks of access to all of the above.

Once again, end users do not run up against the paywall until they reach 20 articles in a month. Even then, there are a series of ways around it.

For one, Facebook and Twitter links to NYT stories can be used on an unlimited basis. That means if a Tweet, for example, links to a New York Times story, there will be no issue reaching the site.

Secondly, those using links provided by search engines (limited to Google, Bing, AOL, Yahoo and Ask) can access five articles per day that way. That is five articles per search engine, for a total of 25.

Next, there is a bookmarklet called NYTClean, that enables those who reach the limit to bypass it. Simply drag the bookmarket into your bookmarks bar in your browser, and if you see the popup requesting you to sign up for a subscription, click it. You will have access to the story.

Finally, if you see the popup requesting you to sign up for the story, you will also notice something strange about the URL. The URL for the story will have a trailing bit of text, that says "&gwh='a bunch of characters.'" Remove that string, and you will be able to access the story, just as with NYTClean.

The New York Times paywall was erected mostly to rein in those who aren't casual users, but daily visitors. Some of the more obscure holes in the paywall may, or may not, remain after some period of time, but they are there for now.

Image source: NYT after reaching the limit