Chrome extension allows users to hop WSJ's paywall

DowJones: "We're working with Google to take it down."

A screen capture of Read WSJ in action from its download page in the Chrome web store.

If two bucks a week just sounds like too much to pay for access to a slew of content, and you don't mind crossing Rupert Murdoch, then Read WSJ is the Chrome extension for you. A free download in the Chrome Web Store, this rather simple bit of code provides easy access to much of the articles and other content that more upstanding Journal readers actually pay for.

The app is basically a script that automatically searches for cached versions of WSJ stories on Google and then places a special icon next to a headline if one is available for that piece. Click on the icon and you'll be redirected to it through Google, basically doing an end run around the paywall.

The Wall Street Journal was one of the earlier adopters in the news business of the idea of a paywall--some online content is available for free, but if you want access to everything you'll need to pay a subscription. It's also one of the most successful, with plenty of people paying a few bucks a week for online access for several years now.

"Read WSJ" is the latest vulnerability in the armor of the paywall as a concept in the newspaper business. Work-arounds for the New York Times' paywall were being announced before it even went live, and the paper asked Twitter to shut down a feed that also attempted to circumvent the wall.

The extension's download page has no information on the author, although there does appear to be someone claiming to be the developer responding to comments. It appears to have been available for download since at least April.

CNET reached Sara Blask, a spokesperson for DowJones--the Wall Street Journal's parent company, which itself is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.--on Sunday, who confirmed that the company is working with Google to have the extension taken down, but it has already proliferated to be available for download on other app markets and websites.

CNET attempted to contact Google, but no one was immediately available to comment.

 

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