I haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to the New York Times’s controversial paywall since its announcement a couple of weeks ago. It seems like a fairly complicated proposition, with a number of interesting nuances—different levels of charge for subscriptions on different devices and the like.

Those who read via the web (and aren’t already paid NY Times subscribers) get 20 article views per month for free—certainly more articles than I’ve ever read in a month. And as if that weren’t enough, redirects from search, blogs, and social media don’t count against the total. (This led one person to set up a free New York Times Twitter autofeed, perfect for adding to Flipboard, which the Times asked Twitter to take down—but it turns out this was not because of its tweeting their articles wholesale, but rather because it was using a “T” logo that the Times felt could lead to reader confusion (much to Cory Doctorow’s consternation).) In a letter today, Times publisher Arthur Sulzburger did mention that there would be daily limits on links from search engines, however.

The most recent development is an Amazon announcement that Kindle owners who subscribe to the NY Times on their devices will get access to the New York Times website at no additional charge. Not too much of a surprise, given that home delivery and other subscribers will get that free access, too. (Found via TechCrunch.)

As paywalls go, this one seems to be reasonably well thought-out. If there are a handful of specific articles you want to read, there are ways for you to do so, even if you’ve already used up all your twenty articles that month. The pay requirement seems aimed at the sort of person who would be likely to pay to subscribe to the paper anyway, or at least would feel like they got their money’s worth if they ponied up. The heaviest users, in other words—the ones who use the most bandwidth on the site.

I still don’t like paywalls in general, but I suspect I’ll hardly even notice this one. And if the New York Times thinks this will keep it from going under, they have every right to try and see what it gets them.


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