Is it ...
... too much to hope that Google and the Murdoch Empire will mutually destroy each other in the US legal system?
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 …
I think that old Rupe, and the rest of them, are perfectly entitled to try to charge for content. They've been open and upfront about it, and there are loads of free places to go if you don't like it. And, by not paying and not joining in, I am expressing my opinion on his worth very nicely thank you.
I think this is a bit naughty, really. I'd have canned them if I were google.
Talk of a 'free press' is disingenuous, too. Free in that context means uncensored. Free as in speech, not as in beer.
That's a tricky one.
Everyone is entitled to do that, and the history of a free press is a history of taking political positions, often merely to sell some more.
But there is a separate problem with excessive dominance caused by an advantageous position, especially when that advantage is granted by the governments being influence. I don't deny that.
But it is separate to his right to sell, rather than give away, his content. It is not separate to my decision not to fund him.
He's still entitled not to have his charged product stolen. Two wrongs etc etc.
The thing is, Rupert Murdoch wants to play the game both ways - these "work arounds" are based on the fact that these sites remain open to the search engines, and are deliberatly designed to be open enough to suck you in, just like a drug dealer, before turning up the costs later on.
This is not like sharing around the code for an online subscription to a magazine...
If your paywall can be routed around by simple HTML or CSS hacks, then frankly you deserve to have your paywall routed around. I'm hardly the world's best web designer and I could very likely do a better job myself!
I'm sure I'll get downvoted by paytards. I don't care. Fix your sodding sites, Murdoch. If this is all it takes, then they are hopelessly broken. Killing these extensions would simply be shooting the messenger.
In some societies locks are not necessary because there is no theft. Private property is respected, and leechers and parasites are shamed into respecting those rights.
Your argument is that because the locks are inadequate, you are entitled to the contents of the house. And so is Uncle Tom Cobbley, or whoever is passing. The moral responsibility lies with the property owner not building a high enough wall, or a strong enough lock.
Uh, OK. I understand the argument.
You've pissed in the well and everyone has to drink it. That's awesome. GIve yourself a pat on the back!
"In some societies locks are not necessary because there is no theft."
"Your argument is that because the locks are inadequate, you are entitled to the contents of the house."
No. However what I will say is that under UK law, if a front door is left open and you walk in, you cannot be charged with breaking and entering. Despite that though, all analogies are bullshit and I do wish you'd come up with an argument instead.
"You've pissed in the well and everyone has to drink it."
I have? I didn't make a site with such piss poor security that anybody with a browser extension can bypass the paywall without it even nearly being a hack. WSJ could install Drupal or Wordpress and have better security!
Besides, this is the Internet, not some Amish community. Having a website with more holes in it than a colander is idiocy of the highest order, and my original point stands: Punishing the writers of these extensions would merely be shooting the messenger. It's not dealing with the problem at all, which is a paywall that doesn't do shit. According to some articles, you don't even need a browser extension for fuxache. Read http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-read-the-wsj-for-free-online-2009-6 to see what I mean!
Whatever my opinion of news sites going behind paywalls, the fact is this is a stupid move by WSJ and any other news site that works in a similar fashion. Fix it, Murdoch, or next time this happens it won't be a developer writing an extension. It'll be someone from Nigeria scraping your entire bloody site and putting it on the Amazon Bookstore!
But hey, keep downvoting me. Keep on loading them magazines up and firing. Keep on ignoring the issue. Whatever you do, don't bother actually putting those articles behind a proper authentication system.
It's the "Paytard" comment that caused me to Down vote you.
Oh and your UK law point is flawed. By simply walking in you may not be charged with breaking and entering but if you were to take anything you could and would be charged with burglary which if it was burglary dwelling would see you in jail. So that's your content from behind the pay wall.
Go visit some countries in the middle east, when the shops close, there is no more than a rope accross the door with a closed sign on it....
Visit the money markets, they have rocks on top of piles of money to stop them blowing away in the wind,,,
theft is dealt with by loosing a hand... (and not your prominent one)
@ John Dee
I don't believe your point was that analogies are kinda dumb. Nor was it, as you claim, that being angry and writing an analogy is dumb either. And if that was your point, I don't think you made it well, nor that it would be a good point if you had. I disagree with you that it's inappropriate or stupid to be angry. As for "tard-rage", what you're talking about is taking food out of others' mouths, and that is a cause for rage and anger, and not a stupid cause for it at all. I was not conscious of rage, just of stating the facts. If you steal IP, then industries reliant on IP cannot invest, and ultimately shrivel.
I disagree with you that "trust relationship[s]" are the cure to IP theft and diversion of money flows from creative industries. That's a preposterous contention. Check any piece of research on "honesty box" payment systems.
And I think you are pretty foolish for pouring ill-thought-through impassioned scorn and abuse on a webforum, in lieu of argument or just for your dumb kicks, whether in your real name or a pseudonym.
"I don't believe your point was that analogies are kinda dumb. "
And I don't care what you believe. I did quite swiftly poke a hole through a stupid analogy. That was the sum total of my intention. Like M Gale, I pay for stuff. Feel free to keep accusing us of (supporting) theft though.
"I don't think you [...]"
In a sea of anonymous cowards, such constructions are totally meaningless. If you want me to invest properly in my arguments, try investing in a recognisable face, so I know who I'm arguing with.
"I disagree with you that "trust relationship[s]" are the cure to IP theft and diversion of money flows from creative industries. That's a preposterous contention."
Perhaps that's why I didn't contend it. I'm sick of everyone and their monkey posting as AC. Stand by your opinions, and form a cohesive, continuum of conversation. Otherwise you really are just flapping your opinions about. Something you go on to accuse me of ...
"And I think you are pretty foolish for pouring ill-thought-through impassioned scorn and abuse on a webforum, in lieu of argument or just for your dumb kicks, whether in your real name or a pseudonym."
Yeah, well, I'd comment on your modus operandi, except I can't. Because of the AC thing. What was that about ill-thought-through?
It was a troll. I do that sometimes. Plus I get fed up of being called a "freetard" for my views when I probably have a bigger collection of paid media than some of the people who attempt to insult me in such a manner.
And as I also stated, all analogies are bullshit. A website is not a house, and a computer is not a car. These things should not be forgotten when making an argument for or against something. Basically, circumventing the paywalls of those news sites is not burglary, nor is it even worthy of being called a hack.
My g/f's brother simply puts a broom against the door when he goes out. Everyone knows where the key is (hanging on the hook next to the door*) and it's not in the slightest unusual to come home and find a friend or neighbour helping themselves to a cup of coffee.
This is Kemi, north Finland. This is not unusual!!!
*It's locked to stop the door blowing open.
And this is an ex mining village in the North West of England. You'll find a similar thing happens here, partly because we know our neighbours. The only worries you might have are the occasional smackhead scouting the garages on their way past to get to the next village and their latest fix.
Problem is the Internet is not like some semi-rural village that only got 3G a little while ago and has more cows and horses than phone masts. When it's just as easy for someone from a bad part of Manchester to open your door as someone from a few doors down, you'd lock your door too!
And analogies are still bullshit.
M.Gale: "Whatever my opinion of news sites going behind paywalls, the fact is this is a stupid move by WSJ "
Uh. That's an opinion not a fact: "M.Gale thinks paywalls are stupid." And you owe me a new keyboard…
"Fix it, Murdoch, or next time this happens…"
Well, you can holler, you can squeal, you can stamp your feet. But no business is obliged to go bust just because some kid demands they use an uneconomical business model, and sacrifice the business trying to make it work. "Free" doesn't work for everyone.
...is for Murdoch's benefit, surprisingly enough. I'm frankly quite happy that his publications are going behind paywalls, as I don't read any of them anyway.
Trying to paint me as some freetarded spoiled child is not going to work. I haven't demanded anybody take their paywall down. Not even implied it. Go look up and read my posts again. What is it I'm suggesting? Not "let people read articles for free", more like "fix your shit because people WILL read it for free."
You can squeal and holler and stamp your feet if you like. Fact is this world is not some giant Amish community. The hippy-dippy kumbaya approach doesn't work in the real world, and when you're attached to a network that's rapidly trying to include all seven billion people on this planet then people will circumvent moronically designed paywalls. Hoping that the government will get involved and start slicing people's hands off is just plain sadistic when you could just fix the problem with your badly designed site!
You should not comment when you have no idea what you are talking about. There are no locks, and by reading a whole article you are not circumventing or manipulating anything that even resembles a lock.
When you hit a NTY or WSJ article, the scripts (ajax, css, etc) determine if you can read/see the whole article, or put in other words if all the scripts are interpreted correctly client side (i.e. the browser) you will only be shown what WSJ or NYT are prepared to share with you pro bono. I am using NoScript for reasons other than reading whole articles at WSJ or NYT, so I can read the whole article (or have been able to, I haven't visited one of their sites in many weeks)
The fact that the measures in question rely on assumptions how the client's browser does things is contrary to anything remotely intelligent. I.e. if something is not under your control than you should not rely on it. The fact that they have done so in this case, and have spent millions doing so, means that everybody will be sent the full article and are given access to it based on their browser environment.
A lock is a lock if you control it, if you do not control it, it is not a lock ... Doh!
Complaining that the outside world does not work according to your functional specifications really does not fly.
What they've put in place is a technical mechanism to protect their copyright. Under the DMCA and the UK's equivalent (who's name I forget) circumvention of it is illegal.
Not saying I agree with it, but I get the impression they've expended the actual minimum effort to 'protect' their content in the belief that they could just use the DMCA to chase people who circumvent it.
Given that it appears to be JS/CSS based, does that mean if I access their site in something like lynx I can access for free?
Steve Bell (Guardian Cartoonist) has a great cartoon over at his website:
Personally I hope Van Helsing manages to find where Murdoch sleeps and drive a good shard of oak through the old fart.
Say you're required to log in after reading 20 articles and it's entirely based on client-side code then you might have something that reads an "article count" integer from the cookie string and simply sets the "display" property of the "article content" div to "none".
If you were to do something that retarded there's no way you should be able to push for DMCA prosecutions whenever anyone "views source" or has NoScript installed - you're not circumventing copyright protection measures because there ARE no copyright protection measures on a system like that - really it's no better than putting white text on a white background and expecting people using Lynx or Jaws to close their eyes or put their fingers in their ears.
Good write-up Gavin.
Google may be about to find out the hard way the consequences of "inducement to infringe". Getting your "communiteh" to do your dirty work leaves you wide open to counter-attack.
Anyone doubtful of the Digger's ability to retaliate in kind should familiarise themselves with NDS vs Nagravision et al:
think the way it works is so many articles for free and a new session = another round of free articles
any fixed limits such as specific free articles would limit the demographic and require someone to choose
the process of users having to find install update an addon would probably end up just making the content feel more valuable in the end anyway
There's a massive amount of news sources on the net and these days, a fair portion of the type of news I'm interested in is blogged & tweeted by the individuals involved, or those close to a 'story' (mainly geek news then :D )
World news reverberates around the net in seconds, so all that's left which is unique to paywall sites is mostly opinion based articles.
I've never once felt drawn to anything the murdoch empire churns out, so therefore, I've never missed it. Even if there was an app which let me through their paywalls, I just don't care - the news is out there if you want it.
The best way to generate revenue from online news is advertising - simple.
This is why most sensible online news sites use this model rather than a paywall - everyone is a winner, information remains free, the website makes revenue so long as it's content is decent = quality control.
And quite frankly, if the paywalls of these sites are so easy to get around, I'm not sure I'd trust leaving my banking details with them for online payments ...
Not so simple as that, I'm afraid.
Maybe most of the news you are interested in is of that type you describe and it would be fine to just read blogs and trust the guy had a good grasp of whatever s/he was talking about.
But there was an interesting interview in "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" (Merkin comedy fake-news) this past week with a NYT guy, and quite a bit of it was about this issue. Some of his points were:
- bloggers won't be going to be sent to some remote country to investigate and report whatever is going on there. That costs a lot of money. Wanna rely on the local bloggers to do it? That could work, but it's a risky bet, I'd say. Most of what bloggers "report" is what they read in... the NYT or The Times or whatever large news org, or saw on TV, heard on the radio, etc.. If they read it from an aggregator (e.g. Google News, Yahoo, etc.), it does not matter. The source still spent a lot of money to generate it. Sure, we get the news somehow, but the fundamental problem that it costs money to produce and *someone* has to pay but most people haven't is not addressed. Which brings us to the second salient point mentioned in the interview...
- advertising on line is very poor compared to print, he said. Tiffany's had page 3 on NYT for over a century or whatever example he mentioned, and pay handsomely for that. Printed real estate is scarce and, therefore, very valuable and with good return to the product being advertised. Or some buzzwords like that. On line, everything is spread very thin, we are awash in ads, there is no shortage of it. Therefore, value goes down and the "paper" gets paid much, much less for it.
So, yeah, he admitted they are struggling to find a viable model.
See, I what I just did! Got someone's report and regurgitated it on line. Don't trust my quality though. :-)
The trouble with taking the word of 'professional' journos at face value when discussing bloggers is that the service the 'pros' provide is no longer controlled by artificial scarcity (as was the case with TV/Radio news and newspapers) and their words can easily be scrutinised, taken apart, corrected and reposted by 'citizen journos' (bloggers). That info can then quickly spread around the world.
'Pro' journos aren't too keen on this threat to their authority. They believe that nobody else has the intellectual capacity to report a story, merely because they didn't study journalism at some educational institution, which is a silly argument. I kid you not, I've heard this very argument presented by journalists in the past to rubbish the output of a blogger or independent reporter.
As with ALL sources of information, you must use a large pinch of salt and practice healthy cynicism/scepticism, be your sources blogs or newspapers. :)
Has this to do with trusting Google? Or are you just using it as a chance to have a go at them?
As for me, I haven't blocked Google space, so I still find stuff (both on the net and in the real world with maps), and I still have a working email account. Never had any actual problem with Google. As I doubt anyone else on here has.
... appears to rely on a cookie: the 20 article /mo counter is reset when I close Firefox which is set not keep cookies (which, combined with forcing the change of my dynamic IP once /24h should hinder stalking / data mining me. Not that I have anything much to hide, really, I just value privacy for its own sake, and the would be trackers do not have any god-given right to my web usage patterns and such either.)
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.
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.
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:
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.
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... :-(
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.
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.
"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
B) degrade the quality of the end-product by "watermarking"
C) degrade the quality of the end-product by lossy compression
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?
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
... 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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