The British Newspaper Archive is a commercial project from Findmypast in partnership with the British Library. We have to charge so that we can cover the huge costs of digitising new newspapers and keeping the website running. We also have to pay licencing costs to our partners for making their newspapers available to us.
By paying for access to the newspapers, you are investing in the service and making sure that we can continue to add more newspapers and new features. The good news is that because this is a commercial service, no taxpayer's money is used to fund the project.