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[ NNSquad ] Brief Thoughts on New York Times Charging (and a Prediction)

Brief Thoughts on New York Times Charging (and a Prediction)

Greetings.  A bunch of people have already written to me, asking if I
feel that the new New York Times charging regime is "good" or "bad."

I refuse to treat this as a binary issue.  I very much like 
the NYTimes, and I don't want to see them fade in the manner of,
say, my hometown L.A. Times.

However, the dynamics of paywalls in this space are exceedingly
complex and rife with unknowns.

The complexity of the NYT paywall system, with various items being
free (or not) depending on how you happened to access them, is 
likely to be very confusing to many Internet users.  When faced with
a paywall block, many will simply go to Google and try find some
other related story from a (possibly lower quality) free source.

It's obvious that the Times is trying to thread the needle carefully,
but I don't know if that will be good enough.

For example, my reading of their FAQ says that most stories linked
from external (at least non-search-engine) sites will be readable
without limitations.  This of course avoids the nightmare of breaking
millions of existing links to Times stories from sites all over the

But I predict that browser add-ons that attempt to automate the
process of creating free "link-based" bypass access to arbitrary Times
stories may appear in very short order, as well as other paywall
bypass techniques.  How many people would bother to use them, vs. either
subscribing or not reading various stories at all?  Who knows?

Separately, I find the premium being charged for iPad app access to be
problematic (even though I don't have an iPad).  The "five free
stories/day" limit on Google references also seems questionably

Overall, we'll just have to wait and see.

Lauren Weinstein (lauren@vortex.com): http://www.vortex.com/lauren
Co-Founder: People For Internet Responsibility: http://www.pfir.org
 - Network Neutrality Squad: http://www.nnsquad.org
 - Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance: http://www.gctip.org
 - PRIVACY Forum: http://www.vortex.com
Member: ACM Committee on Computers and Public Policy
Blog: http://lauren.vortex.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurenweinstein 
Google Buzz: http://j.mp/laurenbuzz 
Quora: http://www.quora.com/Lauren-Weinstein
Tel: +1 (818) 225-2800 / Skype: vortex.com