DP12066 The Production of Information in an Online World: Is Copy Right?

Author(s): Julia Cagé, Nicolas Hervé, Marie-Luce Viaud
Publication Date: May 2017
Keyword(s): Copyright, Facebook, Information spreading, internet, Investigative journalism, reputation
JEL(s): L11, L15, L82, L86
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Industrial Organization
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12066

This paper documents the extent of copying and estimates the returns to originality in online news production. We build a unique dataset combining all the online content produced by the universe of news media (newspaper, television, radio, pure online media, and a news agency) in France during the year 2013 with new micro audience data. We develop a topic detection algorithm that identifies each news event, trace the timeline of each story and study news propagation. We show that one quarter of the news stories are reproduced online in less than 4 minutes. High reactivity comes with verbatim copying. We find that only 32.6% of the online content is original. The negative impact of copying on newsgathering incentives might however be counterbalanced by reputation effects. By using media-level daily audience and article-level Facebook shares, we show that original content represents 57.8% of online news consumption. Reputation mechanisms actually appear to solve about 40% of the copyright violation problem.