Why doesn’t anyone hack The Times paywall?
Copyright violations are the bane of entertainment executives lives. If you stop and listen you might just be able to hear the anguished screams of entertainment corporations, floating through the sky from Hollywood. Conversely, in the UK news industry such copyright infringements are unheard of. Why is this?*
It is unlikely that the Times, Economist or FT has created an impregnable fortress. If they have they can open up a new revenue stream by selling their knowledge to Sony and friends. When the New York Times went behind a paywall simple workarounds sprung up sprung up immediately. It would not be difficult for people to upload articles to file-sharing websites or to share screen grabs. The answer must be based around demand. My two best guesses are:
1. It is not worth the effort. I used to browse the Times website when it was free but have not yet felt the need to subscribe. A person’s quality newspaper fix can be satisfied freely by the Telegraph or Guardian. If anything of interest is published by the Times quotes/summaries appear on blogs and Twitter. The online world is full of commentary on the commentary. On the very occasional moments where I feel it would be of added value to delve deeper I happily pay £1 for the physical product.
2. Hackers don’t read the news. What unites the film, music and gaming industries is that they have a high appeal to a section of the market who have limited purchasing power, but plenty of time. Teenagers and students are also less likely to be concerned about breaking what they consider to be low level laws. The output of the Times, Economist or Spectator does not interest enough of those who are more likely to file share for copyright infringement to be an issue. For those who want to read these magazines the cost is eminently affordable, especially when compared the risk or effort associated with other options.
I don’t know the answer to the question, though I suspect that a great deal could be learnt about copyright flouting by looking at those who don’t do it.
*Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that copyright should be infringed in this or any other area, just that the question is an interesting one
Nick Denys is @betapolitics on Twitter.