If you read blogs, you sometimes get frustrated when the links lead you to newspaper registration. Even if you don’t have to subscribe or pay money, you are asked to provide personal information, such as age, gender, zip code, and perhaps even hobbies. Newspapers have moved increasingly to registration over the last year, read more here.
Not surprisingly, consumers are striking back. Many write in false names, ages, and email addresses. BugMeNot.com allows readers to bypass registration procedures for most of the major paper sites. In essence they have already registered for you. Just insert the web address you want and you arrive there immediately.
I’m not endorsing this practice, and I haven’t a clue about its legal status. The economics are easier to predict. To the extent that people can bypass registration, newspapers will cut back on their free web offerings. So, whether you like it or not, you are contributing to a public good when you register dutifully.
We bloggers stand on the other side of this equation. I subscribe to USA Today, and link to it frequently, in part because of its on-line archive. It requires no registration and the archives remain available, free of charge. Unfortunately I am not the marginal consumer in this market.
I’ve wondered why hackers don’t reproduce the major newspaper sites, such as New York Times, or The Wall Street Journal, and offer them to the public free of charge. Why can’t you use Kazaa to read these papers, whether or not you have paid for a subscription?