"Soft" paywalls and newspaper-related web sites

A lot of newspaper-related web sites now have paywalls. Some are “hard”; others are “soft.” There at least used to be an article on the official web site of consumer advocate Clark Howard (clark.com) that discussed how to get around “soft” paywalls for newspaper-related web sites. However, the article in question has been removed. Is it a sin for one to get around “soft” paywalls for newspaper-related web sites?

If you mean is a sin to somehow avoid paying for an internet service that charges for use, then that would be (however little the amount) the sin of theft.

I’m going with not sinful. " Newspapers" are dying. A digital version is a way to reach readers and garner ad revenue. Hard paywalls can work if the content is desired enough to drive subscriptions. Many papers aren’t well known enough to do this. So they put up a soft paywall to capture support. However they balance that out with the cost of losing exposure on a larger scale. Any subscription is just bonus to them. The paywall is soft for a reason. Usually averted by private browsing. If one always browsed in private or securely then one wouldn’t even be aware of a soft paywall.

I’d put it up there with… us reading someone else’s paper they left in the break room sinful?
Nope.

You mean like by editing the HTML of the page to remove the classes that hide the content?

This is a very interesting question… I look forward to seeing others give their opinions.

I’d lean towards not a sin. The newspaper is making available to the public their content. You are not hacking their private computers but just doing something on your device that prevents their system from working. It would be like asking is it a sin to to read the newspaper headlines if one is stacked on a counter at a store or in a newspaper box, if such a thing still exists.

Even if it was a sin it wouldn’t be theft. You have not deprived them of property. And possible income is not a counter argument because the possible income is not actual property.

But it might be worth considering the paywall is there to help you. It makes it so you can’t read the news which is mostly just propaganda.

Yeah, the real question is, is it sinful for the authors to call themselves journalists?

But what if an employee of a newspaper tells you how to get around it?

Believe or not–and many of you probably don’t given my posting history–this is something I’ve wondered about myself.

I actually was thinking about this just last week. I was reading an interesting blog post, and I came to a part where it said I had to create an account on the site to continue reading (basically they wanted my email).

I didn’t feel like doing that, so I looked at the HTML of the page and wrote some javascript which would remove all of the “blur” on the text I wanted to read. :shrug:

Perhaps there is some aspect of theft there. :stuck_out_tongue:

Are ad blockers theft then? I don’t see how it could be. All you are doing in either case is not rendering something on your device which you own and control.

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