How to get around NBR’s copy protection

NBR today put in place copy protection for its articles. Basically the page injects hidden HTML into the text, so that

Princess Wharf developer David Henderson goes back to his creditors today to see if he can win support for plans to repay 4c in the dollar of a $105million debt and keep bankruptcy at bay.


Princess Wharf developer David Henderson goes b (© Copyright Protected – The National Business Review 81) ack to his creditors today to see if he can win sup (© Copyright Protected – The National Business Review 11) port for plans to repay 4c in the dollar of a $105 (© Copyright Protected – The National Business Review 33) million debt and keep bankruptcy at bay.”

when you copy and paste it. Technically have scrambled the HTML to insert hidden text that only appears when you copy and paste. This makes page loading slower, makes NBR look unprofessional and makes the site harder to share. All of this means NBR seems to want to strong-arm rather than encourage people to sign up.

I share articles with colleagues now and then, and have encouraged people to sign up. I see this as a step backwards, as despite simple workarounds the hassle of forwarding will mean that less people will be able to sample articles.

There are two ways for non geeks to get around this. The first way is to paste everything into a text editor, and search/replace the offending inserted text

In Word, for example, do an “advanced search and replace” – looking for the following text, and replacing it with nothing. Click the “Use wildcards” checkbox so the question marks work.

(© Copyright Protected – The National Business Review ??)

Now do another search and replace, looking for the following text and replacing it with nothing:


And there is your article. You’ve probably lost the NBR fonts and so forth, and so any link back to the NBR is gone. It’s also easy to record this as a macro and then put a button on your toolbar for one click article translation.

The other way is even easier – just take a screen shot:

I do not recommend that you subscribe to NBR while this nonsense is occurring. uses a similar approach and as a result has just 0.03% of the Australian population subscribing. That’s an improvement over a year ago when they had 0.0182%.

Published by Lance Wiggs


6 replies on “How to get around NBR’s copy protection”

  1. And the easiest way of all – just take a screen grab, or two.

    As a subscriber I would prefer them to be spending their time and effort into getting their site running properly.


  2. I wonder if they’ve considered screen readers while implementing this ridiculous policy. Whilst screen readers are capable of ignoring hidden text, I imagine a few won’t, so they’ve effectively made their content unusable to a group of vision-impaired users.

    If they were based in the UK or the USA they’d likely be breaking the law by doing this.


  3. I’m a paying NBR customer, but I’m not going to renew my subscription. It had always annoyed me that paying subscribers get bombarded with the same amount of ads as non-paying visitors. But this is just taking it too far.


  4. I already get NBR via my company’s subscription which uses IP to recognise if I can read the article or not. However, I am big fan of RSS feeds and Instapaper – The RSS feeds will only work if Im sitting at my work computer and Instapaper never works.

    Why don’t they use username / password !!

    It annoys me enough to recommend to my work to stop the subscription. They dont really provide any “better” financial journalism than the herald.


  5. I pressume that the copy protection only applies to those articles behind the paywall, and not the regualr ‘free’ articles, as I have tried copying and pasting from their website and don’t have that problem.
    I use a screenreader with opera, so if I was a subscriber and had that problem, I would be asking for refund. But I don’t subscribe as I don’t think it is any better than the NZ Herald and (which is a great business website where you can discuss articles with the writers)


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