Jason Eppink's Catalogue of Creative Triumphs

The @freeNYTimes Twitter account publishes a link to every New York Times article, allowing readers to circumvent the Times’ paywall and read more than their allotted 20 articles a month.

On March 17th, The New York Times announced their long-anticipated subscription service would begin in 11 days. Included in the announcement was this footnote:

Readers who come to Times articles through links from search, blogs and social media like Facebook and Twitter will be able to read those articles, even if they have reached their monthly reading limit.

The @freeNYTimes Twitter account went live the next day, using the APIs for Twitter and the New York Times (whose documentation incites “why read the news when you can hack it?”) to automatically tweet new Times articles every ten minutes.

Several days later, the New York Times contacted Twitter, asking them to disable the feed because they claimed it was in violation of their trademark. A mirror account was registered at @freeUnnamedNews just in time for the original feed to be suspended.

After clarification by Twitter, changes were made to the @freeNYTimes account to align it with Twitter’s best practices. The New York Times was satisfied with these changes. Ostensibly, their issue was with the use of the Times “T” logo, which is actually required by the Times API Terms of Use. Nevertheless, the account was reinstated.

While the @freeNYTimes account is currently only “followed” by a little more than 2000 Twitter users, it is suspected that the account is used by many more outside of the typical “follow” subscription model, which would otherwise flood a user’s feed.



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