On getting around media paywalls, archiving content, copyright, and journalistic ethics

My editor’s note on yesterday’s version of the When The Going Gets Weird newsletter (which is here or at newsletter.mathewingram.com) got so long, and triggered so many conversations on Mastodon and elsewhere that I thought I would create a separate post about it for anyone who is interested. If debates about the technical and/or ethical challenges involved in getting around paywalls doesn’t interest you, please feel free to move on 🙂

Update: I got into a private debate about this with a prominent author and journalist on Mastodon, and I’ve included some of that below

In a nutshell, I’ve been including workarounds for paywalled articles for a little while now in the newsletter. When I first started it, I just included links and if there was a paywall then I figured people would either ignore it, or try an incognito browser or use some other workaround of their own. But the more I thought about it, the more that approach seeemed thoughtless and inconsiderate, so I started using two tools to produce links that got through paywalls.

One of them is called 12ft.io, and its motto is (or used to be) “Show me a ten-foot paywall, I’ll show you a 12-foot ladder.” But that tool stopped working for me recently — there’s just an error message from something called Vercel. As it turns out, Vercel is a hosting provider, and they shut off 12ft.io’s access to the site because of an alleged breach of their Terms of Service. I found this out because someone pointed me to a post on Twitter from the founder, Tom Millar, which says that he had no notice of the shutdown.

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