by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
circumvention, dmca, hacking, paywall

ny times

Does A 27-Second Video Showing How To 'Hack' The NYT Paywall Violate The DMCA?

from the it-certainly-might... dept

We've discussed many times just how easy it is to get around the NY Times' paywall. I've never run up against it because I don't have javascript enabled, and the whole system is javascript based. We have wondered, however, if doing this is technically a violation of the DMCA -- specifically the anti-circumvention clause. After all, I am circumventing technical protection measures. That I have javascript automatically turned off for all sites doesn't much matter.

Of course, now that the paywalls been out for a while, people are finding even more ways to get around the paywall, including merely removing the string at the end of the URL. This is so simple, that someone made a 27-second video showing people how to "hack" the NY Times paywall:
Of course, I'm wondering if just this video alone violates the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause. Section 1201 of the DMCA says (in part): "No person shall... offer to the public... any technology, product, service, device, component or part thereof, that is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title." Is putting up a video that shows an incredibly easy way to get around the NY Times protection measures a violation?

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  1. icon
    G Thompson (profile), 29 Jun 2011 @ 2:43am


    Actually that is not correct.

    Javascript is what is classified as a client side application. ie: It ONLY runs on the viewing computer after the server has sent a request to it to do something.

    It is run at the whim of the owner of the client, NOT at the request or legal ability of the owner of the server. In fact the servers owner has no legal obligation to make you use it to visit their site since if they do force you under the duress of quoting the DMCA or other torts they very much could be liable under the criminal sanctions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

    Whether yourself or the NYT like it or not it is the owner of the computer who states what is run or not on their own system, and more specifically what has authority to access or not.

    I can guarantee you (since this has happened once) if some organisation tries to access or run some programme/script on my computer which I have not given them the legal authority to, then that organisation will be in for a very nasty shock when criminal warrants are served on them.

    As for this video, It shows people how to legally disallow authority to the NYT on their system and therefore is not showing circumvention of anything, especially when circumvention implies the bypassing of something fully controlled by someone else, in this case the NYT, which is incorrect.

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