Hard News by Russell Brown

Routing Around

Quite some years ago, John Gilmore declared that "The Net interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it." In the broader sense, he meant that that any blockage will be bypassed. So come on down, then, the New Zealand Herald GreaseMonkey Script.

This code rewrites the URL of search results delivered by the New Zealand Herald website's built-in search facility, bypassing the "premium content" subscription page and making old (ie: more than seven days) news stories free to access like they used to be; and like they still are if you find them by some other means than the Herald's onsite search, such as Google.

It works because the way the Herald's new system is devised is a bit ropey. It only works in the Firefox browser with the GreaseMonkey plug-in installed, and only if you search within categories rather than "All Sections", but, yes, it does work.

Is it legal? In recent years the MED lawyers have been fairly emphatic in their contention that the role of the Copyright Act is not to protect access control systems (that's why you can so readily buy region-free DVD players in New Zealand), but IANAL, and I'd be interested in any comments on the issue.

I should emphasise that I continue to applaud the Herald's decision not to break the thousands of existing inbound links to its old stories as part of the "premium content" switch, and to allow the continued creation of persistent links by slightly roundabout means. But it's interesting, no?

The American site Never Pay Retail has taken a slightly different approach to the premium content issue, by finding syndicated instances of New York Times columns recently placed behind the Times Select subscription wall, and linking to those. Enterprising. (Hat-tip to PA reader Grant.)

Meanwhile, court documents reveal that Marc Ellis was after pills that were "smooth on the come-down". Isn't everyone? And is this still front-page news? Blogging It Real is duly appalled.

Meanwhile as "rumours" ("leaks", surely?) suggest good news for the Greens and/or Labour in the special vote count to be released at 2pm on Saturday, the Greens met with business leaders, some of whom left in a snit because the Greens had been unwilling to "compromise" on their policies. Do these people understand Parliamentary democracy at all?

It would be silly for the Greens to now suddenly perform a backflip on their manifesto. That's what their supporters voted for. But that's hardly to say that they will somehow be able to ram through contentious policies, whether in or out of a coalition. There is, for instance, overwhelming (about 83%; ie everyone but the Greens, New Zealand First and possibly the Maori Party) Parliamentary support for existing foreign trade policies.

I personally disagree with some Green policies, while on the other hand, I note that David Haywood found that on energy policy the Greens are considerably more in touch with reality than any other Parliamentary party. The likes of Roger Kerr (who has a bit of a nerve calling other people "extreme") and Michael Barnett need to calm down a bit.

Nick McBride pointed me to a persuasive essay by Michael Schwartz on the issue of immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Meanwhile, reason goes to court with the "intelligent design" civil trial in Pennsylvania. Please tell me we're not going to go back to the Scopes Monkey Trial. That would be a bit scary.