According to a Reuters report from earlier this year, The New York Times spent between $40 million and $50 million to create the online version's new paywall that debuted last week. Former MIT Laboratory for Computer Science researcher Philip Greenspun points out that it took about half what the Times shelled out for its paywall, just $25 million, to finance Google as a whole.
It's not only mindboggling that the Times spent that much to create an easily circumvented paywall, Greenspun argues: even successfully blocking unpaid access to Times content shouldn't cost nearly that much. "I built a paywall back in 1995 for the MIT Press, restricting access to some of their journals, e.g., Cell, to individual subscribers and people whose IP addresses indicated that they were at institutions with site-wide subscriptions," he recounts. "I can't remember what I charged the Press, but it was only a few days of work and I think the invoice worked out to approximately $40 million less than $40 million."