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Gaps in the paywall

On the day that one of the world's biggest newspapers, the New York Times, introduces its 'paywall' to restrict free reading of its website, the UK's most high-profile paywall - that surrounding Rupert Murdoch's The Times - was briefly breached this morning. A blog appeared on the blogging site Tumblr devoted to copying-n-pasting the columns of one particular Times journalist - culture comedian type Caitlin Moran - for all to see. It had a Twitter feed, which was being followed by none other than Moran herself, leading some to speculate she'd struck some sort of deal with her News International paymasters.

But, nope. Mere hours later, and 'F**K Yeah Caitlin Moran' is no more. Even the Twitter feed is down. News International's lawyers have clearly swooped. But do events like these show the problem with paywalls? As long as there are technical limitations to accessing data, people will find ways around them. The New York Times' paywall hasn't even launched in the US yet, but already there are multiple ways around it, from a Twitter account which includes every NYT story (links from Twitter don't count towards the monthly limit of 20 free stories) and even a bookmarklet which you can use to see stories once your allowance is up.

But the question is, will 'ordinary' web users discover these semi-legal tools? Or will most people just pay up and be done with it? Time will tell but for now, fans of Ms. Moran will simply have to pay up - or make do with her highly entertaining tweets.

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