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back to article Google Chrome extension busts Murdoch paywall

An extension has surfaced in the Chrome Web Store that lets you breach the defenses of one of the web's earliest paywall pioneers. Read WSJ Extension lets you read full articles from the online version of Rupert Murdoch's The Wall Street Journal, giving you free access to some of media's most coveted paid-for content. Murdoch …

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Trollface

not needed here ..

I don't read anything owned by some tit merchant

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Go

tit merchant?

Bravo - how many tits fit in a schooner? In fact I can't wait - will this be expensive?

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my granddaddy always used to say...

If nobody paid for newspapers, they'd give 'em to you for free.

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FAIL

Free newspapers?

And look how good they are!

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The quality of free newspapers...

...is quite high compared to such illustrious paid publications as The Sun and the Daily Mail.

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Anonymous Coward

Doing Rupe a favour

Maybe doing the same for the Times paywall would do the old bugger a favour - maybe get at least a few eyeballs on the ads. The figures from last year don't suggest he's achieved much beyond losing a lot of visitors:

www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/nov/25/times-paywall-cory-doctorow

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Oh please. . .

Following the above link to the Guardian column, it is certainly strange that AC@18:26GMT seems to know what the News Corp's subscription figures mean, while Doctorow himself will not even offer a firm opinion.

Parenthetically, Cory Doctorow is the very last person whom I would trust for an unbiased and realistic assessment of any thing or any phenomenon that impinges, even remotely, on "leeching-as-a-way-of-life" freetardism.

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I've said it before and I'll say it again...

The paywall isn't about web-browsers, it's about slabfondlers and phone fiddlers. Free internet access to the news was a threat to the marketability of subscription-based apps for the iPhone when the iPhone was really taking off, hence Murdoch killing it.

The standalone app may not be making much money yet, but once the Apple Newstand opens and magazine and newspapers are easier to find, the money's going to start coming in, and soon enough magazines and newspapers will turn a profit off the casual (virtual) coin.

The sad part is that the Reg will probably want in on the action... :-(

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Linux

Cory Doctorow...

Never trust a Trustafarian

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Pisswicket

As pointed out, news makes its way onto the interwebs in numerous ways.

If Murdoch thinks he can make a living having his organisation put their 'spin' on the news and then selling it, then good luck to him. (I think his empire is full of dangerous propaganda personally)

I like to read numerous news articles about the same subject in an attempt to remove any 'spin', so it really doesn't matter too much whether it's paid for or not.

As a side benefit, I don't get to 'enjoy' al the other nonsensical opinion pieces that usually accompany paid for journalism.

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RW
Facepalm

It hardly matters

The Times and the NYT used to be newspapers of record, but not anymore, not since they decided to chase readership figures instead of simply reporting the news. You could tell the Times was going downhill once Murdoch took over by watching the ever increasing amount of nooze about "celebrities" - which simply isn't news at all. It's mostly slightly rehashed press releases from publicists. And of what earthly significance are the latest shenanigans of Britney Spears, that Palin girl, Paris Hilton, or any of the rest of that gang?

And the NYT, in its pursuit of the next big blockbuster story, has lowered its standards to the point that outright hoaxes cooked up by young reporters and interns slip through and into print.

If I'm going to read a crappy newspaper, I might as well read the Daily Mail. Or Pravda.

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JDX
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If your paywall can be routed around you deserve to have your paywall routed around

Great critical thinking there. If I can enter your house just by jiggling a window a bit, you deserve to have all your things stolen. If you aren't trained in martial arts, you deserve me to hit you from behind with a spanner and steal your wallet.

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Silver badge

Nice selective quoting.

However my original post is right up there. You forgot about the "by simple HTML or CSS hacks" bit.

Murdoch's paywall isn't a paywall. It's a vain hope that everyone's browsers comform to Murdoch's rules. Guess what? They don't!

I'm sure the old Digger could start getting litigous. Start throwing his weight around and punishing someone for daring to be clever. Or, alternatively, he could get someone to rustle up a paywall, as opposed to a joke. Stops the problem at its source then, y'see.

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Stop

Re: Nice selective quoting

"Murdoch's paywall isn't a paywall. It's a vain hope that everyone's browsers comform to Murdoch's rules. Guess what? They don't!"

Look, some of us have been saying that DRM is a bad thing because it generally degrades the product and breaks it on non-standard systems.

What NI have done is produce a very simple DRM that doesn't

A) install a rootkit

or

B) degrade the quality of the end-product by "watermarking"

or

C) degrade the quality of the end-product by lossy compression

or

D) stop us using the product on anything other than their platform of choice.

We ask the music biz to trust us to stick by the rules (or enough of us that they make money anyway) and we get a decent product as an end result.

Now while I wouldn't call Murdoch's output a "decent product", is it too much to accept that as DRM schemes go, this isn't really that bad or unfair?

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FAIL

You're still defending a really piss poor attempt at a paywall.

I'll repeat this, again: Depending on the browser to faithfully do what you ask it to is idiocy. Everything should happen server-side. The server should determine if you are logged in. If you are not logged in, it should NOT SEND YOU THE ARTICLE. Anything else is plain dumb.

The best part is that existing entirely on the server end means you don't need to install anything at all, including dodgy Javascript or CSS that is naive at best. The most you need on the client side is a session cookie, and done properly there's no way a dodgy client is going to do anything with that. It also means there is absolutely no grey area if someone decides to hack your servers open or compromise logins in order to get to restricted articles.

Seriously, turning this into an "installing rootkits" issue is misdirection. Since when has any website, anywhere, worked in this stupid, brain-dead manner? Does Google Mail rely on your browser when it comes to logging in, for anything other than a session cookie? What about your bank? Why do you think that is?

Saying that implementing a proper server-side login would mean any of that FUD you're spilling, is as idiotic as using the client side to hide article text. If anything, depending on the client side for things that really should happen server-side is MORE likely to mean that only a certain subset of clients are supported!

Please, please, use a little bit of sense. Same thing I'm asking Murdoch to do, really.

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is it too much to accept that as DRM schemes go, this isn't really that bad or unfair?

Think about how this works. It serves content to everyone and relies on the client, not even a dedicated client but whichever browser you choose to run, to restrict access to it after it's been send to the client device. That design is fatally flawed. It's ridiculous that they went to market with this system, apparently even clearing your cookies breaks it.

While it isn't unfair, this system is clearly not fit for purpose. A proper paywall wouldn't be fooled by simple browser shenanigans like this.

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@ M Gale: some way to go lad

"Or, alternatively, he could get someone to rustle up a paywall, as opposed to a joke. "

You're still clinging on to your original argument - that it's the publisher's fault for not putting on a big enough lock, barbed wire, and maybe shooting people who try and get in.

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Yes, yes I am.

Because I have yet to see anything argued against me asides "well you should jolly well close your eyes then, and don't think about viewing source or running with Javascript disabled!"

Unfortunately, with an attitude like that we could well see heavy-handed government legislation used to bash people over the head, when what should be happening is you absolutely should be putting on a big enough lock. Barbed wire too, if that's what it takes to keep people on the other side of your paywall unless they pay. I certainly wouldn't rely on the browser setting CSS visibility to "hidden" for me, if I were doing something similar. Neither would any competent web designer, and I'm pretty sure I'm talking truth there.

I'll ask again, whoever you are, what other sites on the Internet function like this?

Would you be happy for your webmail provider to work like this?

Your bank?

Maybe your government's services gateways?

I'm not arguing over whether Murdoch should or should not have a paywall. I'm saying that what he has, effectively, is not a paywall but a bit of software that begs and pleads with your browser to not show all the secret stuff. Fat chance!

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Classically Stupid

All these "pay walls" do is reduce readership of your publication. If you want to make it on the web you can't be doing things like that. It's a vestige of an obsolete system that's being perpetrated by the very dinosaurs that held up the old system for so long. They need to learn that media has moved on or they're going to die out.

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@Jonathan 27

You assume the goal of all newspapers is to increase readership, which was true 20 years ago. Nowadays, all they want to increase revenue per reader.

The Times, which is hidden behind a paywall, is one of the more successful daily papers in terms of physical paper sales and so doesn't need to allow freeloaders to read it online.

The Guardian, which has a much lower number of physical sales, really does need people to read it and think "hmm, I'll buy this poorly articulated newspaper full of spelling mistakes and left wing bias tomorrow as well", so no paywall.

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Re: Classically Stupid

When people don't pay you for your product, you can't salvage your product by simply having more people not pay you for your product.

No doubt you're reaching for your keyboard to type "advertising" even as you read this. To which I reply in advance that these papers have a better idea of their circulation figures and how much they earn from advertising than you do and if it were more profitable to share it for free, then they would be doing so.

Companies should be able to negotiate their own prices with the public. The socially beneficial response to not thinking a product is worth the asked for price is to decline the product, not to just take it for free against the seller's wishes.

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Those in glass houses....

I would find it a lot easier to come down on the side of RM if it wasn't for the fact that the majority of the copy in his newspapers weren't already:

- reworded articles copied from competitor's newspapers

- or copy/pasted press releases given by companies/agents.

But of course that's ok.

<plug>

If you want original read Private Eye (incidentally behind the best pay firewall available, you can only read all of it if you buy it from the shops).

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Meh

Paywall away...

... the thing about news is that it is, more often than not, the author (editor-journalist-proprietor) usually trying to 'sell' their viewpoint. The Murdoch pay-wall has gone up around news sites which to me were far from impartial, and ones I never visited anyway. In a way it's brilliant, the readership of some of the papers busy telling people how evil my 'kind' are, now have a limited readership.

If more were to go up, I'll just go to the ones that remain free, and there are plenty out there who would even 'pay' to be heard.

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Big Brother

Firefox and The Times

Is there something like this available to read The Times? ... and why do I have to put my trust in another big empire of Google to smash the empire of Murdoch? Can I not use the people's browser - Firefox?

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Happy

Never mind all this - look at the damn photo.

Murdoch appears to be made of wax and it looks like someone left him in a warm place.

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