Article: the Effects of the “Link Tax” on News Consumption

The manuscript “Digital News Consumption and Copyright Intervention: Evidence from Spain before and after the 2015 ‘link tax'” was accepted today for publication in the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.
Digital News Consumption and Copyright Intervention: Evidence from Spain Before and After the 2015 “Link Tax”
Sílvia Majó-Vázquez, Ana S. Cardenal and Sandra González-Bailón

Abstract: We analyze patterns of digital news consumption before and after a “link tax” was introduced in Spain. This new legislation imposed a copyright fee for showing snippets of content created by newspapers and resulted in the shutdown of Google News Spain. The Spanish copyright law is a precedent to the Copyright Directive currently submitted to the European Parliament, which plans for a similar “link tax”. We offer empirical evidence that can help evaluate the impact of that sort of intervention. We analyze data tracking news consumption behavior to assess changes in audience reach and audience fragmentation. We show that the law has no discernible impact on reach, but we identify an increase in the fragmentation of news consumption.