Why Mozilla's decision to remove Bypass Paywalls Clean extension is a wake-up call for internet users everywhere
Bypass Paywalls Clean is a popular extension for Firefox, Chrome, which as the name suggests, circumvents paid subscriptions on popular websites, allowing users to read the content for free. The add-on is no longer available on Mozilla's add-on store (AMO).
Mozilla removes Bypass Paywalls Clean extension from its add-ons repository
It is unclear why the add-on has been removed, The developer claims that Mozilla took it off the repository without any notification.
Update: A Mozilla spokesperson provided the following comment:
“Mozilla received a copyright takedown notice regarding this addon and forwarded it to the developer, along with instructions about how to submit a counter-notice. We haven’t received a counter-notice from this developer.”
The developer also speculated that it may be because the extension had too many users. You may refer to the developer's Twitter, Gitlab page to read the above statement.
Bypass Paywalls Clean was removed by Mozilla from the add-on store (without notification) ...
For updates you can switch to the non-amo version though (export your custom sites first): https://t.co/6O1bYKAbed
For Android you have to switch to Kiwi browser (Chromium).
— magnolia1234_bpc (@Magnolia1234B) February 10, 2023
I already explained the add-on's functionality in the first line of this article. Now, it is possible that one of the sites hit the Bypass Paywalls Clean add-on with a DMCA notice, which in turn could have resulted in Mozilla delisting the extension from its store. I'm not entirely sure about this, because if that was the case, wouldn't Mozilla have notified the developer? Or maybe it breached some clause in the terms and conditions of the repository. We can't tell that for sure, all that we know is that you can no longer download the plugin from the add-ons store.
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The developer says that they have updated the add-on to version 3.5.0. You may not see the update even if you already have the extension, because it has been delisted. You can, however, opt-to install the unsigned version by side-loading the XPI from the project's GitLab releases page. If you choose to go with that version, you should export your custom filters before switching.
Not many people may like installing add-ons (even if they are signed) that are not hosted on Mozilla's site, for security reasons. The good news it that the author of the add-on also maintains a filter list that you can use with ad blockers, so you will get the same functionality without the extension, at least as far as the popular sites are concerned. Here's how to use it.
How to bypass paywalled articles using uBlock Origin
1. Click on the uBlock Origin icon in your browser.
2. Switch to the Filter lists tab.
3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click the checkbox next to "Import".
4. This will allow you to use custom filter lists. Paste the following URL in the text box.
5. Click on the Apply changes button at the top of the page. You should see a new filter labelled "Bypass Paywalls Clean filter".
That's it, the filter is ready to use. Try it by going to a website that has a paywall, and you should be able to access the articles for free.
This method works with Firefox, Waterfox, Chrome, Vivaldi, Edge, and Brave, basically any browser that supports uBlock Origin, Adblock Plus, etc., that supports custom filter lists.
Note: The website for the filter list mentions that it can be used with other ad blocker apps for mobile like AdGuard for iOS, Samsung Internet browser, etc. I haven't tried these so YMMV, I use the filter on Firefox for Android.
If you don't want to use the ad blocker filter, you can choose to subscribe to the Bypass Paywalls Clean user script via the Violentmonkey (for Firefox or Chrome), or similar extensions. The user script is available in 9 languages, and can be found on GitLab.
I use the add-on frequently to research stuff, learn new things. This is how the internet should be, free for everyone, without censorship and restrictions.
Note: There is an add-on called Bypass Paywalls, which is actually the original one. However, it uses Google analytics (in the Chrome version), you can verify that by checking its source code (Background.js mentions it). Bypass Paywalls Clean is a fork of it without the telemetry, hence the name "Clean".
Nice to know. Just installed it.
There goes my last reason to use Firefox. Its one remaining advantage was that its add-on store wasn’t as heavily policed as Google’s and Apple’s stores.
Wow! I never knew about this. Installing now.
Nice to see you here, Ms Streisand.
Can you get 3rd party add ons, not from the firefox store, and add them into your browser? if not, then firefox kinda sucks balls
addons can be ofc installed when you have them as file (.xpi extension), or load them from their own (home)page.
Yes for desktop
For Android, Smart Cookie Web Preview browser, Firefox derivative, allows extension sideloading
Sure. But they have to be signed.
Only for desktop, unfortunately not for Android except the Nightly version, which many people don’t want to use as it’s sometimes unstable
It’s works on Android
Install Kiwi Browser from the Google PlayStore
and you have two options:
load the CRX-file in releases
install latest master zip-file
see on : https://gitlab.com/magnolia1234/bypass-paywalls-chrome-clean
The uBlock filterlist is not working. Tested on different sites. And yes I reloaded the filters and applied.
Yeah, same here. I switched using the Violentmonkey script, it works just fine.
Yeah in Ublock, it misses many sites, no good really. I tried it with Violentmonkey, but couldn’t get it to work. Can you please explain how? Thx
Funnily enough, the Edge addon store still has “extreme paywall bypasser”!
Here’s the discussion on git: https://gitlab.com/magnolia1234/bypass-paywalls-firefox-clean/-/issues/905
The developer mentions in a couple places that the xpi IS still signed, just not listed in addons.mozilla.org.
Based on the link below, it sounds like an xpi wouldn’t even be installable in regular Firefox releases unless it was signed. But once signed, you can choose whether to distribute it yourself or via addons.mozilla.org.
If a site has a paywall to read an article, I just go to another site. If the news is important enough, it is almost always on more than one site, and one of them usually doesn’t have a paywall.
The primary reason I don’t use FF very much is because of the telemetry.
When I test FF on EFF’s Cover Your Tracks the browser has a unique fingerprint.
Brave is randomized :D and gets better all of the time compared to FF.
Thanks for the setting in uBlock
Mozilla also threatened to delist my extension within 10 days, but at least I got a warning. I asked them if there was a policy change because my extension has been listed since XUL days without any issues, but no reply. They need to improve their developer outreach department.
May I know what your extension is?
Informative article but I don’t agree with your statement:
“I use the add-on frequently to research stuff, learn new things. This is how the internet should be, free for everyone, without censorship and restrictions.”
What gives you the right to decide on behalf of others how the internet should be and to force the information owner to give them for free? Everyone prefer having open unrestricted access to all information in the world but this doesn’t give you the right to just go ahead and grab what you want in an illegal manner.
I wasn’t aware that the author had the power to decide for all of us what should be and what should not be free on the Internet. Last I checked, that was solely the province of each individual. Based on your comments, I’ll take it as a given you believe ad blocking to be wrong too?
Clearly, the author’s statement has struck a nerve if you are this upset over it. Wonder why that is?
The author got a DMCA (https://gitlab.com/magnolia1234/bypass-paywalls-firefox-clean/-/issues/905#note_1276138260) and so lied about the real reason their addon got takedown simply to create bad press against Mozilla. Pretty childish…
They didn’t necessarily lie, if the DMCA notice came after Mozilla pulled it down.
Do consider that the first message was 3 days ago and the secondsecond, clarifying one was 6 hours ago? Maybe the notice was late? Don’t jump to conclusions..
I am in the process of getting my life insurance back to myself. If you are working with me I would greatly appreciate you help getting this to work. I have no service and it is not due to my dismay. Make things happen for me today.
Thank you for the detailed information and guide with screenshot Ashwin. Very helpful!
Can the list work on FF for Android?
I just imported the list into unlock origin installed into FF Android 68.11.0 and it seems most of the rules were accepted.
However, I’m running FF 68.11.0 which is the last version before Mozilla re wrote much of it, interface wise, at least.
I cannot yet attest to whether the rukes work though because I don’t come across paywalls much. But it’s nice to know that if I do, might not even notice ?
Hopefully works for you.
It’s very unreliable in Ublock.
It does not seem to be in the Chrome store, either.
Thank you. I installed it now.
Working for me. Thank you, Ashwin!
I’ll try the userscript in Iceraven, thanks for the heads up ^.~
What we need is an extension that will work as a third party updater to handle each of these extensions and notify us of updates and/or handle the updates automatically from sites like github and gitlab.
Maybe if one of the firefox fork’s make some changes to the way the addon manager works they can bake it into the official addons manager. Of course you would have to agree to trust the developer yourself but that is at your discretion.
Everything comes with a risk. I have downloaded and paid for software but there is nothing stopping that developer or developers from going rouge either so be mindful of that. I accept that risk and try to be as diligent as I can but at the end of the day one has to put some trust into the developers too.
I wonder what else will get blocked next. I would say that this creates a precedent for many other players to pull the same stunt. Stay tuned for more soon.
There is a typo in the article. The newest version is 184.108.40.206, not 3.5.
It’s pretty clear why Mozilla removed it. It’s enables the infringement of copyrighted materials in exactly the same way torrent sites did, and got busted for.
Even though the torrents themselves were not the copywritten material, they facilitated the act of copyright infringement.
This is exactly what Mozilla would have had to deal with too. The addon itself did not contain any of the copywritten materials, but it’s use, and Mozilla distributing it, is facilitating copyright infringement, explaining exactly why they took it down.
Would you let a crack dealer sell cocaine out of your living room? I mean.. You’re not the one selling it.. You’re just facilitating it.
For this line of reasoning they should remove extension that allow extensions videos as well, since downloading violates their terms of service and the law. Also, a better analogy would be: “would you allow a someone to sell crack pipe on your living room”.
But Firefox itself is a tool for copyright infringement: it has features for downloading images, text and other files, and even saving pages in their entirety. And those Internet’s files/images/text pages are most often protected by copyright (except in the relatively few cases when the content is posted under a free license and this is explicitly stated on the site (but even that could be a lie)).
So this is an entirely false and manipulative argument.
The article mentions it can be used in Adblock Plus, but when I tried to add the url, I got the message “not a valid filter list”.
Or you could, you know, actually pay for the content you enjoy reading?
Sure, let me pay to open 1 article. Not a bloody subscription of the whole site!
Yeah, sure. But first, I’d like to see a guarantee and an exact timeframe in which I’ll get my refund (full money-back, including costs and transfer fees) if the content I unlocked doesn’t turn out to be an enjoyable read.
The question is where does it end and what will be next? Adblocking, Video downloads, script management, cookie blocking?
The point I am making is its a slippery slope and I think people are being a little dramatic with their analogy. We aren’t talking about drugs here.
Valid question; but… As regards ad and cookie blocking you are actually refusing to accept something, rather than violating a copyright. In that respect such things as adblockers should be alright legally. As regards video downloads, that would be a gray area. I suspect it would ultimately be up to the site and content creator. A general rule of thumb might be you (should) have control of what’s allowed on your system, while the content creator would have the right to decide the terms upon which you access said content.
One observation I would make is that Pirate Bay will always exist in some shape or form as long as cost is more of a problem than are attempts to pirate.
>As regards ad and cookie blocking you are actually refusing to accept something
Like, well, refusing to accept a paywall that covers the text of an article and is no different than an ad banner doing the same thing?
>In that respect such things as adblockers should be alright legally
Actually, no. You’re also modifying the page to look at it without something in your way. And the fact that you personally distinguish between a banner and a paywall doesn’t legally change anything.
I followed the instuctions above, but it is not working for me. Thoughts?
Thx, but In Ublock, BPC is very unreliable.Works on random sites, and when it does, it blocks images also on random sites. It’s touch and go. Definitely, not a replacement for the add-on, just a halfhearted alternative.
Can you sideload the xpi in Nightly android? Beacuse in the beta or stable you can’t. Thanks
If you want to use it with Violent Monkey, here is the link (https://gitlab.com/magnolia1234/bypass-paywalls-clean-filters)
BPC is working perfect if you download the xpi version..
I did that with version 220.127.116.11 and a week later got in firefox a nw version !
( 3 bars menu.. extensions searching for updates )
and now on 18.104.22.168 !
How to add a custom site to the filter list as I had done on the Bypass Payrolls clean extension, and it worked. But if only relying on the filter list added to Ublock, it doesn’t.
Would like to add AZCentral to the bypass paywall list for ublock as I had done for the original as: