Working around a metered paywall
Written on 11 March 2017, 10:20pm
Back in 2011, when I started this blog, I had a list of things I wanted to talk about. I recently reviewed this list and I noticed that one of my questions back then was about the restriction of content: after reaching a certain number of free articles, some websites ask to pay before continuing. This system is named metered paywall and one example of website using this mechanism is NYTimes.com.
I was curious about the technical implementation of this system and I did a little research (fun Saturday evening project 🙂 ). After reaching the maximum number of free articles, I tried to see how easy it is to continue reading.
First, with the stateless design of HTTP in mind, I tried clearing the browser storage:
No success, so moving on.
Second, I noticed that I could bypass the metered paywall by opening articles in incognito windows.
With this in mind, it took me only a few minutes to find the JS file implementing the metered paywall and adding it in AdBlock Plus. I will not disclose it here; the plan is to get in touch with NYTimes to confirm this is the intended behavior. I’ll update this post if I have more news.
PS: Yes, I do have a NYTimes subscription 🙂
Update April 2017: I cancelled my NY Times subscription:
— Dorin Moise (@dorinmoise) April 28, 2017
Written by Dorin Moise (Published articles: 260)