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NYT Closes Paywall Loophole, Restricts Bing Search Traffic

  |  March 22, 2011   |  Comments

Initial subscription plan singled out Google in capping inbound links from search.

As it prepares to launch its new paywall strategy in the U.S. next week, the New York Times is doing away with a loophole that had appeared to favor Bing over Google.

One of the difficult balances the publisher has tried to strike with its new online subscription plan is the need to allow some inbound referrals from search and social media sources. Its complicated solution, announced last week, is to impose a daily limit on per-user search traffic from Google while apparently allowing unfettered access from Bing and other search engines. Google users were to be restricted to five content views a day, while Bing and other engines were to have no such restrictions.

No longer. In a statement shared first with TechCrunch, the New York Times said, “After reviewing our options, we decided to extend the policy of five free clicks per day to all major search engines by the global launch on March 28. Our pre-launch period in Canada was undertaken to enable us to test the systems and fine-tune the model.”

The Times didn't immediately respond to a request for more details. While in the U.S. the new policy would appear to limit traffic from Bing and Google, overseas that policy might apply to sites like Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia. [UPDATE: A spokesperson confirmed the daily limit will apply to "the majority of search engines."]

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