Adblock Plus and (a little) more

It's still perfectly legal to block ads in Germany after latest court victory over Spiegel · 2016-11-28 14:00 by Ben Williams

It’s another victory for consumers and ad-blocking providers everywhere: we were informed on Friday by the regional court in Hamburg, Germany that blocking online ads is (still) your legal right. This was the decision of a case that publishing giant Spiegel Online filed against Eyeo, the company that makes Adblock Plus, Flattr Plus and other products. The court dismissed all claims brought by the plaintiff.

Those of you outside Germany may remember Spiegel as the publication that received Chelsea Manning’s disclosures from WikiLeaks as well as some of those submitted by Edward Snowden. Spiegel is a fantastic publication, despite our legal disagreements, and a journalistic observer of record in Germany.

If you’re keeping track at home, here’s a quick rundown of the all the lawsuits that Eyeo/Adblock Plus has fought (and defended successfully):

  • April 2015 – Zeit Online GmbH and Handelsblatt GmbH
    • Decision: Ad blocking is legal.
  • May 2015 – ProSieben/Sat 1 and RTL Interactive
    • Decision: Ad blocking is legal.
  • September 2015 – Axel Springer
    • Decision: Ad blocking is legal.
  • March 2016 – Süddeutsche Zeitung (think a German version of the New York Times)
    • Decision: Ad blocking is legal and ABP’s Acceptable Ads initiative is not a detriment for publishers, but rather a potential benefit to the industry.
  • May 2016 – Axel Springer (on appeal)
    • Decision: Ad blocking is legal but ABP must offer whitelisting to Axel Springer in Germany … although they MUST still abide by the Acceptable Ads criteria.
  • Last Friday – Spiegel Online
    • Decision: Ad blocking is legal.

We at Eyeo are happy to commit our resources to fighting for user-empowering tools like ad blockers while working with publishers on user friendly, sustainable monetization methods. In fact, when we do so, all the other ad- and content-blockers benefit from each lawsuit we win – because let’s not forget that if one ad blocker is outlawed in Germany a slew of lawsuits will eventually outlaw them all.

As always, we welcome any and all publishers and advertisers who would like to work with us to keep users in control of a free, profitable web.

Comment [4]

  1. Michael · 2016-11-28 22:16 · #

    Benjamin Franklin once said, “Definition of insanity is repeating the same mistake over, over again”. Sounds like a reference to German media companies.

    Ad blocking is here to stay! If media companies continue to assault Internet users with bloated ads. Their business model will perish! Countless court cases against ABP, will not bring back the glory days.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks for the support, Michael!

  2. Paul · 2016-11-29 14:35 · #

    A flaw with attempting to block ads is the fact that some people use metered connections. The added bandwidth of ads on a page will come out of the users data allowance. Essentially, the user is paying to see advertising as well as the site making money from advertising. It isn’t fair on users of metered connections to be forced to pay to view ads.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Another reason to use ad blockers, eh?

  3. Arch Michael · 2016-11-29 17:39 · #

    You’re lying, again. In reality legality of ad blocking was never the subject of this lawsuit, and thus has not and could not have been declared legal by the courts either. Simply, because the plaintiff wasn’t questioning that, and the courts don’t bother to rule on something the case isn’t about.

    The same applies to practically all the other cases you’ve listed. In none of them has been ad blocking or ABP declared legal – again, because none of the cases were about their legality, but about whether Eyeo violates German competition law with it’s Acceptable Ads program.

    So, why do you keep lying about all these lawsuits?

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    No, Arch Michael, not true. It is complicated, though, so I get why this is so confusing to you.

    In a civil case there must be a complaint, and in each of the lawsuits brought against eyeo the base complaint, the one issued by all the plaintiffs, was that ad blocking should not be allowed on their particular site(s). Now, they attempted to justify this claim by saying that ad blocking violated a law or laws. A few tried competition law, like you suggest. a few based their complaints in supposed violations of other laws. Also, some included the whitelist in a complaint, but not all.

    The two things they all did have in common were asking for ad blocking to be disallowed on their site(s) and the result.

  4. will smith · 2016-11-29 23:49 · #

    Arch Michael
    your probably right. And with intuition can confidenlty say your full of it. The advertising companies don’t have a leg to stand on regarding legality of ad block. So they nit pick with fair competition.

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