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ARTICLE: Spain’s “Link Tax” increased fragmentation of online news consumption

Picture: untitled by PIRO4D, license CC0 1.0

The 2015 “Link Tax” legislation is Spain imposed a copyright fee for showing snippets of content created by newspapers. Similar regulations are being considered on the European level.

Silvia Majó-Vásquez, of the University of Oxford, Ana S. Cardenal, of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, and Sandra González-Bailón, of the University of Pennsylvania, examined the impact of this intervention. The researchers analyzed data from Alexa Internet’s traffic rankings and comScore audience measurement statistics, tracking news consumption behaviour before and after the tax came into effect.

The law seems to have no clear impact on reach. However, the researchers found an increase in the fragmentation of news consumption.

“The structure of the audience overlap network becomes sparser and more fragmented over time”, the researchers state. This means that news sites share less audience, becoming more differentiated in who consumes their sites. Still, links and social media referrals only amount to a small fraction of the total number of sources to news sites, the authors note.

The article “Digital News Consumption and Copyright Intervention” was published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication and is available online (free abstract).

Picture: untitled by PIRO4D, license CC0 1.0

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