Read This News Site And They Will Hunt You Down And Sue You

The North Country Gazette, an online-only publication based in Chestertown, NY, wants you to know that reading their site without a subscription is serious business. How serious? Well, if you read more than one page on the site without a subscription, the site owner claims that she will use your IP address to track you down and sue you.

The site is now entirely password-protected after earning negative attention for the policy. (This probably would have been a better option in the first place.) BoingBoing captured the warnings while they were still up. For emphasis, one was in red Comic Sans.

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This isn’t the site owner’s first experience with creative interpretations of copyright law. The North Country Gazette’s fair-use policy also made a cameo appearance in a legal ethics blog in 2006. The site publisher, in turn, sued the blogger for defamation.

Local newspaper boasts ultimate passive-aggressive paywall policy [BoingBoing]

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  1. Alvis says:

    Comic Sans is serious business

  2. Talisker says:

    This is going to end well.

  3. CBenji says:

    Wow, they must have some pretty good articles.

  4. backinpgh says:

    I really can’t take a publication seriously if they insist on using Comic Sans.

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    Offer online access to newspaper with no password protection.

    Sue potential clients who don’t honor the honor system.

    Profit????

    • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

      If this site hasn’t changed from a couple days ago, there’s no username field nor a way to register for an account. Great business model!

      • SabreDC says:

        Because when user’s subscribe, they are given a card with the password on it. Probably something like “p@ssword”. The card probably also states not to share the password with non-subscribers.

        • SabreDC says:

          I can’t believe I just put an apostrophe to denote plurality. Honestly, folks, I know the difference between -s and -‘s.

    • chocotanya says:

      Shouldn’t that be

      ??????

      Profit!

  6. Sword_Chucks says:

    It reminds me how the coach from Cleveland reamed LaBron James in Comic Sans, to which I didn’t take anything he wrote seriously, except the guy was delusional and pissy. Comic Sans is like opposite-day

  7. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    They back-traced it and are going send the internet police after us. We done goof’d.

  8. obits3 says:

    What would happen if you had clicked on a link to thier site and then later did the same by accident?

    • jessjj347 says:

      Better question: What about shared computers(e.g. libraries) or households with multiple computers and same IP?

    • runswithscissors says:

      A S.W.A.T. Team busts in through your windows and skylights and you are thrown in prison for life, I imagine…

  9. ThaKoolAidKid says:

    In response to the Comic Sans hate I quote this monologue from the great internet monologue database of McSweeneys: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/monologues/15comicsans.html

    I’m Comic Sans, Asshole.
    BY MIKE LACHER

    - – – -

    Listen up. I know the shit you’ve been saying behind my back. You think I’m stupid. You think I’m immature. You think I’m a malformed, pathetic excuse for a font. Well think again, nerdhole, because I’m Comic Sans, and I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.

    You don’t like that your coworker used me on that note about stealing her yogurt from the break room fridge? You don’t like that I’m all over your sister-in-law’s blog? You don’t like that I’m on the sign for that new Thai place? You think I’m pedestrian and tacky? Guess the fuck what, Picasso. We don’t all have seventy-three weights of stick-up-my-ass Helvetica sitting on our seventeen-inch MacBook Pros. Sorry the entire world can’t all be done in stark Eurotrash Swiss type. Sorry some people like to have fun. Sorry I’m standing in the way of your minimalist Bauhaus-esque fascist snoozefest. Maybe sometime you should take off your black turtleneck, stop compulsively adjusting your Tumblr theme, and lighten the fuck up for once.

    People love me. Why? Because I’m fun. I’m the life of the party. I bring levity to any situation. Need to soften the blow of a harsh message about restroom etiquette? SLAM. There I am. Need to spice up the directions to your graduation party? WHAM. There again. Need to convey your fun-loving, approachable nature on your business’ website? SMACK. Like daffodils in motherfucking spring.

    When people need to kick back, have fun, and party, I will be there, unlike your pathetic fonts. While Gotham is at the science fair, I’m banging the prom queen behind the woodshop. While Avenir is practicing the clarinet, I’m shredding “Reign In Blood” on my double-necked Stratocaster. While Univers is refilling his allergy prescriptions, I’m racing my tricked-out, nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters who’ll kill me if I don’t cross the finish line first. I am a sans serif Superman and my only kryptonite is pretentious buzzkills like you.

    It doesn’t even matter what you think. You know why, jagoff? Cause I’m famous. I am on every major operating system since Microsoft fucking Bob. I’m in your signs. I’m in your browsers. I’m in your instant messengers. I’m not just a font. I am a force of motherfucking nature and I will not rest until every uptight armchair typographer cock-hat like you is surrounded by my lovable, comic-book inspired, sans-serif badassery.

    Enough of this bullshit. I’m gonna go get hammered with Papyrus.

    • Doubts42 says:

      Pure genius.
      I still fail to see how/ why so many people get their cyber-panties in a bunch over a simple font.
      I mean it is not the world’s most attractive lettering, put it is plain and very easy to read.

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        I find it kind of visually bouncy, for lack of a better way to describe, and reading it is slightly harder than most other fonts.

      • markedward says:

        It’s because it’s ugly and over-used to hell.

      • webweazel says:

        Agreed. Years ago, when I first started touching computers and had Word, I didn’t like the default font, so I make a test page of ALL the fonts listed, compared them side to side, and liked Comic Sans the best out of all of them. It was very easy to read at all sizes, and was kind of a soft-on-the-eyes font rather than the sharp razor-bladed fonts of the others. I did use it for quite a while until the rabid frothing at the mouth around the web became too loud and I changed it. I still think it’s a good font and still use it for my recipe book for its easy readability. So there, frothers.

        • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

          Frothers. I love it. +10 internets.

          I liked Comic Sans in my younger years, but these days I tend to use verdana as my all-purpose font, it is neutral and friendly without the goofiness.

    • obits3 says:

      I’m Comic Mother F@cking Sans!

    • theycallmeGinger says:

      I love it! This almost hits too close to home for me! I know all those fonts entirely too well.

      I’m gonna go get hammered with Papyrus.
      Too funny.

    • Me - now with more humidity says:

      Best. Rant. Ever.

      • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

        Totally agreed. Thanks for posting…gave me a good LOL while I’m working.

    • SilentAgenger says:

      Dear Comic Sans,

      Please! Please!! I take it all back, everything! I take it all back, every word! I love you! I LOVE you! *(sniff)* I can’t live without you! I’ll do anything!

    • PBallRaven says:
    • 6T9 says:

      Kanye, is that you?

    • Cry Havoc says:

      “Enough of this bullshit. I’m gonna go get hammered with Papyrus.”

      I’m neutral on Comic Sans, but I have a burning hatred for Papyrus that was born when I had a part-time job at a sign shop. Die in a fire, Papyrus.

  10. gparlett says:

    So if somebody leaves a copy of the Dallas Morning News in the bathroom at work and I read it without paying the newspaper company am I stealing services?

    • nybiker says:

      My quick answer is “Only if you used it as TP.”

    • Southern says:

      No more so than the 10-year old Readers Digests in your doctors waiting room. :p

    • vastrightwing says:

      This is the analogy they are attempting to use. So yes, if you were to pick up a newspaper left on the train and read it, you should be required to find the nearest retail outlet and pay the full price of the paper.

      Now, I’m not sure how this works if you only find 1 section of the paper. Would you only be obligated to pay a pro-rated amount?

  11. smartmuffin says:

    Well philosophilcally they’re right. They do provide a service and have every right to demand payment for it, but uh, yeah, probably wanna password-protect BEFORE you go making those threats.

    • MistahFixit says:

      Isn’t this a little bit like going to the park with your portable radio, and then suing anybody who can hear the music you’re playing?

      • PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

        Or with your portible music player using small speakers instead of headphones.

        If this had crossed the RIAA’s mind, they probably would try to find a way to sue…

      • Tim says:

        It’s more like putting out Halloween candy with a sign that says “take one,” then suing the kids that take more than one.

        • sqlrob says:

          Except the sign really says “For each time you read this sign, you can take one”, and then they sue for taking more than one.

    • sqlrob says:

      No, they’re not right. The server is responding to the client’s request. That’s the implicit granted contract right there.

  12. Straspey says:

    The real question here is…

    What the heck could possibly be going on in Chestertown, NY which is so earth-shakingly important that there are people willing to risk civil action and possible financial ruin just to find out ?

    Gee…

    • yulingo says:

      unless they can prove to me that they have done top-quality “investigative journalism”, they aren’t getting my money any time soon.

      From what I read off their front page, most of their news is redundant and boring.

  13. Tim says:

    So technologically, you can access more than one story? But if you do, they’ll track you down and sue you?

    How about actually making it technologically impossible to view more than one story without a subscription. I personally don’t know how to do it, but I bet it’s pretty easy. A lot easier than tracking down people by IP and suing them …

  14. ElizabethD says:

    OMG, lol! Shakin’ in my boots, I am.

  15. johnrhoward says:

    That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen.

    However, making fun of people’s font choices, however stupid they look, is getting pretty tired.

  16. Gravitational Eddy says:

    Nah, too easy. They whine about how non members are driving their costs up when the only costs are what they pay to lawyers to advise them on how much to charge for access to this raggedy web page.
    Some people shouldn’t be connected to the internets.
    Wonder if they actually subscribe to the Associated Press feeds or do they just copy and paste (and steal outright) from Google?

    • Tim says:

      … or actually produce content. There’s a good chance of that, too.

      I believe that people should be paid to produce original, journalistic writing. But this site fails miserably, because they didn’t bother to spend a couple dollars to actually implement what they needed for this system. Instead, they’re paying for a lawyer to subpoena IP information from ISPs and, ostensibly, sue people who violate their honor system. Major fail.

      Like I said in another comment, it’s like putting out Halloween candy with a sign that says “take one,” then suing the kids who take more than one. How about just pass it out yourself?

      • sqlrob says:

        Actually produce is unlikely. If you read some of the articles, there’s definitely appropriated content without attribution.

  17. Jeff says: "WTF could you have been thinking?" says:

    It appears as though the site is down completely, or they are now just blocking everyone’s IP……… I get the dreaded 403 Forbidden error message…..

  18. Shadowfire says:

    Wait… how are they a .org?

  19. gqcarrick says:

    I wonder how she is getting those IP addresses while people are using Web Proxies. Hmmm

  20. MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

    I read a couple of their archived articles (which aren’t password-protected, but do have that stupid claim), and holy FSM, they should have to pay for me to have my brain bleached after reading that improperly-punctuated excuse for “journalism”.

  21. cardigan says:

    I’m beginning to wonder whether this isn’t just some elaborate, anarchistic scheme to heap thousands of frivolous lawsuits upon the American legal system until it eventually collapses under the weight of one man’s desire to, literally, sue The Internet.

  22. dr_drift says:

    They opened up a back door on the mainframe and are going to use e-worms to track the hard drives of people who are stealing their internets.

  23. Daverson says:

    THEY CAN’T STOP ME I’M BEHIND 7 PROXIES

  24. dolemite says:

    lol…I love how they single out Verizon Droids. Just goes to show it’s a dinosaur, and most likely the guy responsible for putting up that nonsense is some 70 year old newspaper publisher that doesn’t understand technology at all.

    • wastedlife says:

      You didn’t know that Verizon Droids is an ISP now? Also by reading the entirety of my post, you are thefting my copywrites and owe me $10,000 or I will sue your IP address!

  25. Buckus says:

    Thanks for making sure I never go to that website!

  26. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Aaaaaand that’s what proxies are for.

  27. borgia says:

    As a side note with all this Comic Sans hate going on, Comic Sans is a good font to help with dyslexia. Dyslexics can read it without as many problems. Studies have even shown that normal people make less transcription errors when reading Comic Sans. That said, it is possible to design more “normal” looking typefaces that have these same benefits

  28. Xene says:

    If you read past this “word” I am going to sue you.

  29. xspook says:

    “A subscription is required at North Country Gazette”.. um, no it wasn’t. Idiots.

  30. The Marionette says:

    So….. if they made it password-protected now then what’s the problem?

  31. krom says:

    If they are basing personage on IP address (which is flawed all to hell in the first place), then there is absolutely zero reason why they can’t design their site to deny you access to a second article after you (or your IP) has read a first one.

    Ineptitude, laziness, and incompetence — theirs — are the real crimes here.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      AOL uses a single IP Address. I’m dialing in to AOL on my 14.4Kbaud modem via a Cuban satellite link from here in Madagascar. I anticipate the glory and joy of beheading any lawyer serving me papers. ;^)

  32. FrugalFreak says:

    So will they be suing google who cached thier pages :P good luck and farewell.

  33. bishophicks says:

    Shorter North Country Gazette”

    “F*&%ing Internet. How does it work?”

  34. peebozi says:

    i would like to hire this lady as my marketer.

    i didn’t know two things when i woke up this morning.
    1) there’s a chestertown, NY
    2) there’s an online quasi-subscription based blog that caters to chestertwonians

    i now know these things because of one genius marketer.

  35. Trencher says:

    http://www.northcountrygazette.org/headlines.html

    They just don’t have any default document set. I just added index.asp and it gave me links.

    Kind of anal retentive if you ask me.

  36. AngryK9 says:

    It is not theft of service if it was up without any sort of security in place to protect it.

    And, collecting IP addresses? Really? Apparently nobody employed by that establishment has ever heard of a proxy.

  37. lance55 says:

    criggin’ funt.

  38. ldavis480 says:

    The North County Gazette is not a real news site, it’s the personal blog of one June Maxam. To put it mildly, June Maxam is a VERY sad and unhappy mentally ill woman that lives in upper New York. Normally I don’t consider Encyclopedia Dramatica to be a very good source of information but it appears to be the only source of data on this individual:

    http://encyclopediadramatica.com/June_Maxam

  39. Chip Skylark of Space says:

    I thought that No Reading was a northwestern suburb of Boston?

  40. Midwest Doc says:

    Tor

  41. crunchberries says:

    I would like to state that most New Yorkers are not this stupid, but honestly? I would be lying. Passive-aggressive shit like this is par for the course in many small towns; the only difference is that this reached a wider audience.

  42. deathbecomesme says:

    “I’ll create a GUI interface using visual basic. See if I can track an IP address”

  43. nopirates says:

    the north country gazette chick is nuts:

    http://encyclopediadramatica.com/June_Maxam

  44. FrankReality says:

    Ok, if they put it on their internet site and make no attempt to enforce a subscription only policy via common methods like a userid and password, how in the heck can they legally claim exclusive rights? If they make it publicly available without a reasonable attempt to protect it doesn’t it become public domain?

    I suppose they can go to local small claims court, but the cost of finding out who you are, filing in small claims court and giving the required notice would cost them far more than they could collect.

    Better yet, just because they win in small claims court, doesn’t mean they’ll get the money either.

    Dumb.

    BTW – I like Comic Sans… after writing three pages of very dense Times Roman, Comic Sans is perfect for comic relief and emphasis.

    Anybody care for KidPrint??? hehehe

  45. JeremieNX says:

    IP addresses are meaningless. Most consumers don’t have a static IP so that IP changes every time the modem is reset/powered on. The few dial-up consumers that are still out there get a different IP every time they sign on. Many people are behind proxies (e.g. my computer at work always indicates being from St. Paul, MN because our corporate offices are there. My office is in Portland, OR).

    Good luck.

  46. Duckula22 says:

    When you walk past my house and look a my front lawn, it’s OK, that’s free of charge, but the roses towards your right can only be looked at if you have a subscription (even though they’re right there in front of you).

  47. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Denial Of Service attack in 3…2…1…

  48. Dillenger69 says:

    I think the internet broke them.
    http://www.northcountrygazette.org/ has been giving a 403 since BoingBoing picked this up on Monday.

  49. sopmodm14 says:

    lol, i don’t know how they’ll make a living with no subscribers

    they be fools

  50. PortlandBeavers says:

    I’ll use a proxy server if I decide to read multiple articles. Thanks for the warning.

  51. Destron says:

    Good thing he is only going after Verizon Droids…. guess i’m safe on my T-Mobile Android.

  52. techphets says:

    This lady does not have the emotional intelligence required to extract the amount of money she wants from, well, anyone. I respect banks and their overdraft fees, casinos, check-cashing places, and even CASH4GOLD more than her.

  53. lordargent says:

    I wonder what they would do if I wrote a perl script to turn it into a RSS feed.

  54. Winteridge2 says:

    But is it ok if I just luk at the pikturs? I doesn’t read so well. And I have no munee.