Premium contents published on the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Online edition are usually only available to paid subscribers. Non-subscribers will only get a short preview of the article.

wall street journal

Despite blocking non-subscribers from accessing their content, WSJ gives free access to Google as they rely on Google to bring in search traffic. I believe WSJ wants Google to index the entire page, as opposed to a few teaser words.

So if you can fool WSJ’s servers into thinking that Google is the HTTP referrer, you will be able to read the full article for free!

Following are the steps involved to access free premium content from WSJ.

  1. Install the RefControl Extension for Firefox. Restart Firefox after installing the extension
  2. From Firefox Tools menu, click on RefControl Options and click on ‘Add Site‘. Specify online.wsj.com for ‘Site‘ and Custom: http://news.google.com/news/ for ‘ActionRefControl Extension
  3. Browse to a WSJ article that requests for a subscription
  4. Take a look at the WSJ article URL, it will be something like:
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122164835444047599.html

    Now, modify the URL in Firefox by appending the string ?mod=googlenews_wsj to the end of the URL. The new URL should look like:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122164835444047599.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
  5. Hit the reload button in Firefox and enjoy the article.
  6. Now you can access all the restricted articles for free, but do remember that RefCOntrol has to be enabled (Right-click on the RefControl icon in the Firefox status bar and select “Enable RefControl”) for this trick to work.

Update (8-Feb-2011): Unnecessary steps have been removed.

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Mohamed Ibrahim

Ibrahim is a Telecom Engineer by profession. A technology enthusiast with great interest in open source projects.

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