Fairfax newspaper websites like the Age started using a paywall at the start of July. It’s metered, meaning you can view 30 articles a month before being blocked from viewing more unless you pay to subscribe. That’s only 1 a day. Fortunately, the paywall seems to be a simple and weak deterrent that is easy to overcome. If you want to read more without having to pay for it, here’s how you do it.

Screen-shot-2013-07-06-at-2.45.38-PM how to get around the Fairfax paywall

Method 1 – change ‘theage’ in the URL of any article to ‘smh’ and you can then read the same article on a different newspaper’s site. This also works with ‘brisbanetimes’ etc. The Fairfax network shares articles from the same centralised platform, so each article has a unique identifier, but the firewalls appear to be domain specific, so there is a separate paywall for each domain.

Once you hit the limit in one domain, start reading the same articles in another. The weakness of the system here is that it assumes that readers are loyal to the ‘brand’ of a specific newspaper and won’t browse elsewhere. How quaint. This method of circumventing the firewall appears to render articles even if those articles have not actually been published on another site. Not every article about Melbourne from the Age, for example, will be published in the Brisbane Times.

Method 2 – when you hit the limit in 1 browser, start using a different browser. The paywall uses browser cookies, so Firefox does not know how many articles you’re read in Chrome.

Method 3 – as an article page loads hit the ‘Esc’ key quickly before the paywall popup loads over the top. If you stop it loading you can read on indefinitely.

Method 4 – change ‘www’ to ‘m’ in the URL of any article. The mobile domain appears to be measured separately.

Method 5 – do what works with getting around the paywalls on the Australian and News Ltd newspaper websites – select and copy the title of the article, paste it into Google to search for it, then click on the link. Following external links to articles is different to directly clicking on a link to an article on a newspaper homepage. Fairfax needs external links for SEO purposes so those won’t be blocked.

A combination of these methods should mean that the paywall never interferes with your ability to read the news for free. The subscriptions Fairfax is offering are absurd and are not worth paying for. It costs $15 per month to access the Age site via a browser (regardless of device), but it costs $10 a month more to obtain the same content via browser and app (on mobile devices).

Is the use of an app worth an extra $10 a month to obtain the same content? I doubt it. The website has a reasonable mobile friendly layout. Consequently, the improvement in quality in terms of the user experience from mobile browser to app must be minuscule. That makes no sense. Paywalls are basically designed to trap stupid people.

how to get around the Fairfax paywall

33 thoughts on “how to get around the Fairfax paywall

  • 8 July 2013 at 10:10 am
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    Just a thought – for a guy who discusses copyright and intellectual property a lot, this is an interesting assault on Fairfax’s right to charge for the content they generate.

    I think the content should be free online by the way, so I don’t have any moral issues personally. I just find it an interesting double standard.

    Another way around the firewall is to pay $100 a year to have The Age delivered to your home each Saturday and Sunday. Less than $2 a week, and that subscription also covers unlimited online access as well as the iPad app. I’m more than happy to pay that for the premium content I get in The Age, over say the basic news content I get for free somewhere like the ABC or SBS.

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    • 8 July 2013 at 10:50 am
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      Fairfax has built a system with certain parameters and I am merely making the most of those parameters. Their paywall is merely a sieve that stops ignorant people and allows informed ones through. Other publishers have more effective paywalls and Fairfax is free to build one if they choose.

      I have no need for the print edition, especially all the waste that comes with the unwanted car, real estate, sport, etc sections. Premium content? I doubt it. Infotainment for momentary amusement, but most commercial media content is celebrity fluff that I ignore. It’s not worth paying for.

      So the ABC only provides ‘basic news’ but Fairfax provides ‘premium content’? We’ll have to agree to disagree on that as I think the reverse is true.

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      • 9 July 2013 at 3:38 pm
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        There is also a chrome extension specifically for this:

        https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/the-age-paywall-bypass/okmabgpmkponmodamboiafbndnbafgen/details

        I agree that their paywall is weak and easily bypassed. But I tend to agree with Kate. In the past you’ve gone off the rails for people using your images or articles without your consent, I don’t see how this is any different…

        (Don’t get me wrong, personally I have no issues bypassing it, just like I have no issues with people reusing images online, people downloading tv shows etc)

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      • 19 August 2014 at 12:35 am
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        What rubbish. For someone so precious who wants the world to recognise your views on everything, is in not their right to ask you to pay? They never said it was free, they just didn’t charge you until now. Reading the Age with all of its 1st world problems is not very Fitzroy. “Does your barista talk too much?” You probably like responding to this intellectual drivel in their comments section. BTW 2 minutes googling this cheat and you wouldn’t have had to write this. You seek respect and recognition, are openly critical of just about everything, yet you are selective about where your standards apply. Sounds like two sets of rules one to suit Brian and one for everyone else.

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        • 19 August 2014 at 10:45 am
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          This was one of the first articles explaining how to get around the paywall. When it was published there was nothing else like it in explaining different methods, hence its subsequent popularity. So your critique about it not being useful or timely is false. It’s been viewed over 16,000 times since then so it evidently is useful.

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      • 29 September 2013 at 10:46 pm
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        is there something similar for ‘the australian’? because i don’t believe in any such thing as ‘premium content’…

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  • 8 July 2013 at 12:03 pm
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    I have a VPN and I have yet to hit the Fairfax paywall at all. So my $5 a month to Unblock US to access Iplayer and Netflix also gives me fairax it seems. Incognito mode using Chrome should work as well. Of course there is always fairfax five years ago (i.e the guardian Australia).

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    • 8 July 2013 at 1:09 pm
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      You can now access a lot of international streaming sites with the free Hola geo unblocker browser plugin. I’m going to try incognito and see if it works. Thanks for finding another method.

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      • 11 July 2013 at 1:16 am
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        I like to avoid the browser versions. With unblock us I can do it as the router and then my blu ray player, tv and iphone can bypass without doing anything. Also Unblock us is fast, I think they just do the initial check through a VPN. I can stream BBC to my tv and I’ve never been able to do that with a browser based solution. Too slow for my adel!

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  • 16 July 2013 at 1:33 pm
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    There is also another way you can do it. That is delete your cookies! I find that works a treat. But getting all the cookies for the age website without deleting other cookies seems to be a problem for me.

    I’m using a Mac OS X 10.5.8 and I don’t want to upgrade. Is there an extension for Firefox I can use?

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  • 22 July 2013 at 9:32 am
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    Even easier, browse in an incognito window.

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  • 9 August 2013 at 1:45 pm
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    Alternatively, you can access using Safari and click on the “reader” button.

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  • 16 October 2013 at 3:10 pm
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    Those seem harder than simply deleting browser history/cookies. It takes two seconds and you don’t have to rename URLs etc.

    I love Fairfax for this paywall, it is good for a larf.

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  • 20 October 2013 at 10:49 am
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    Why stuff around with cookies, hitting escape at the right time etc? As others have said, just use incognito mode. Ctrl-Shift-N in Chrome and you can browse all you want.

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  • 25 October 2013 at 9:24 am
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    Thanks for sharing – much appreciated.

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  • 4 November 2013 at 1:16 pm
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    Goodness! Came here by accident to see what others do, and … well, a friend asked me on Saturday morning how, or if, it was possible to “get around that stupid firewall [sic] on The Age site” (Fairfax paywall). To the rescue! :-)

    Everybody in the family uses Firefox and it’s not a problem for us to bypass this idiotic intrusion by entering Private Browsing in FF. Referred on this trick to Damsel in Distress. “Start Firefox in Private Browsing”. No cookies will be accepted by Firefox therefore, Fairfax cannot track hits to articles. Neato.

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  • 28 November 2013 at 8:39 pm
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    Just tried the hitting the esc key but it didn’t work. Tried it several times.

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    • 28 November 2013 at 9:06 pm
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      It’s all in the timing. You have to do it as the page loads, so if you’ve on fast broadband it can be difficult!

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  • 17 December 2013 at 8:39 pm
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    I’ve found changing www to ‘m’ is the best option. Even after the ‘no you can’t look at this’ msg comes up, can still just highlight www & change to ‘m’. But i wanted to alert people to another workaround. By logging onto my local library site, they have a newspaper option. I only had a quick look, it’s not quite the same as the Age online but what distracted me was that all the coloured weekend mags that come with the dead trees are readable. The idea of reading the Good Weekend online quite appeals. I don’t live in Yarra but i would think that all library systems have subscribed, giving us the benefit. That’s making your council rates work for you eh?

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  • 19 December 2013 at 11:36 am
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    A postcript to the above post: Although the Library network allowed me to read the Hun, when i clicked onto The Age, a msg came up: “Our system has determined that the computer network you are using is located in or routed through Australia. As per publisher request The Age is not available for viewing in your area. We invite you to contact the publisher of The Age and insist that The Age be made available for viewing on this service”. Boohoo

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    • 19 December 2013 at 11:46 am
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      Incognito browsing is the easiest way to get the content for free.

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  • 2 February 2014 at 8:20 am
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    I use Chrome – and when I get close to my 30 limit I go into settings and clear all data, cache, everything. I tested this early in the month when I hit my 30 and couldn’t proceed. Within that month on the same computer and same browser and same network I hit my 30 about three times.

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    • 2 February 2014 at 10:45 am
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      On your iPad/iPhone if you use an app like LoginBox it will automatically do that for you. No need to tinker with any settings or clearing up caches :-)

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      • 3 February 2014 at 8:03 am
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        That is cool – will keep that in mind if I ever use those. Will let my son know that one. For now I just click a button to clear everything on my pc browser. As an aside I love Adblock for Chrome – it removes the ads from Youtube as well as the ads at the beginning of the video news stories on The Age :-)

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  • 4 February 2014 at 1:11 pm
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    On mobile, if you hold your finger down while the article is loading, it actually loads the whole article first and then advertising etc., By holding your finger down it pauses the loading, and the wall. But you gotta be quick, and time it just before the paywall pops up. To scroll, I keep one finger on screen and use the other. It’s tricky, but I’m a self-confessed tightarse. Aren’t we all?

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  • 19 March 2014 at 5:58 pm
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    Until today, changing the wwws to m for mobile has worked for me, but no longer, sadly, Ditto for smh. Not a Chrome -user but guess i’ll have to change over now, if that work-around still flies. Anyhow, the Guardian online is a better paper, far more interesting columnists.

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    • 19 March 2014 at 8:50 pm
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      Using incognito mode in Chrome or Firefox still works, and it’s the easiest way to keep reading for free.

      Reply

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