Google closes paywall back door...sort of...not really

You know your sneaky little trick of getting around the Wall Street Journal's paywall is mainstream if they demonstrate it on the NBC primetime show the Office.

It is pretty simple.  If you want to look at a paywalled Wall St. Journal article (or any publisher's paywalled content for that matter) you just do a Google search with the title and look in Google News.  When you click through Google, you can see the whole article. 

Why would News Corp and other publishers agree to this easily-foiled paywall hole? According to the paywalled WSJ article (linked above):

Google's "first click free" program allows Google News or Google search user to find and read articles, even if they are behind a subscription paywall. The reader's first click to the content is free, but when a user clicks on additional links on the site, the publisher can show a payment or registration request. 

They had to if they wanted their material indexed by Google. Google had required that publishers give Google's readers the full document if they wanted it searchable. (Ever wonder why Murdoch and other News Corp execs never had anything good to say about Google?) 

Well, Google is putting an end to the paywall free ride -- sort of -- not really.  The new rule is that you can only click through Google searches five times a day to get around the paywall.

Oh, that is five times per publisher.  So you can read five paywalled Wall Street journal articles per day and five from another publisher and so on.  And if you use a different browser where you aren't logged into your Google account, you can have five more.

In other words, it is only going to be slightly more difficult to get around paywalls using the Google trick.

Perhaps people who want to read the whole Wall St. Journal every day might be enticed to pay.  However, the majority of readers, who come to the Journal usually by a link from a blog or via a Google News search won't be deterred.

For more on this see Jeremy Kirk's take.

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