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Free New York Times

The New York Times has been testing its long awaited pay wall in Canada for the past week – and already people have gleefully devised multiple ways to get around it.

The pay wall – which will go live in the U.S. on Monday – requires readers to pay $15 to $35 a month, depending on whether they want access via smartphone or iPad app. The first 20 articles per month are free, however.

Some of the loopholes are intentional. The Times does not count articles linked through social networking sites towards that limit. Readers can also access five articles a day through Google, although the search engine Bing allegedly has no such restriction.

The authorized ways to access articles free of charge have proved insufficient for some enterprising techies. Taking advantage of the social networking loophole, the Twitter feed @freenytimes is automatically updated with a fresh link whenever the paper publishes an article. And Canadian programmer David Hayes (no relation to the writer) created NYTClean  on Tuesday, a “bookmarklet” that tears down the pay wall with one click and only four lines of JavaScript.

According to an interview with Forbes, the Times is putting pressure on Twitter to close down @freenytimes, but has no plans to change their programming code to dodge NYTClean. Whether the paper decides to further combat such measures will depend on their game plan, but the events of the last week have proven that launching a pay wall can be an even more harrowing prospect than we already knew.


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About the author

Kevin Hamilton was the Front of Book Editor for the Summer 2011 issue of the Ryerson Review of Journalism.

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