by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
ad blocking, adblock, firefox

eff, mediafire

Once Again, Blocking Ads And Automating Clicks Isn't 'Stealing'

from the explaining-it-nicely dept

A couple years back, we wrote about some guy who kicked off a campaign to get sites to block all Firefox users, claiming that too many of them use extensions like "AdBlock" and those people are "stealing" from the site. This is silly for a whole bunch of reasons. You don't need to monetize every single person who visits your site, and it's their computer. If they don't want to see ads on their computer, that's their decision. If your business model is something they don't appreciate, that's your problem, not their's. This issue has suddenly come up again, as Rose M. Welch alerts us to a blog post from a guy who threatens to start blocking Firefox users, claiming that using AdBlock is "practically like you are stealing from me."

Amusingly, in that same post, he argues that he never expects people to actually click on the ads from his site, but he relies on the revenue those ads bring in. So... let me get this straight. If people use AdBlock, they're stealing from you. But... if, instead, people come to your site and totally ignore the ads, but those advertisers have to pay you anyway, that's okay? Based on this guy's own logic, isn't he "practically stealing" from the advertisers? After all, he's granting them a service and then telling his readers to ignore the ads. Those advertisers rely on people buying stuff after clicking the ads, right? So, it's okay if people don't help out those advertisers, but if your own readers don't help you out by allowing the ads, it's theft? Yeah... okay.

Taking this concept to an even greater extreme, the EFF has stepped in on a legal dispute, where file hosting provider MediaFire is demanding Mozilla remove a plug-in that lets people skip the ad that MediaFire tries to show people before they can access the file they're trying to download. As the EFF notes:
It's my browser, and I can ignore your ads if I want to.
MediaFire's claims are like the people who claim that anyone using AdBlock is "stealing" from them and breaking their user agreement -- but as the EFF notes, there's no stealing of anything going on here, and the user agreement is never actually agreed to, and thus not particularly enforceable or even relevant.

So, once again, with feeling, it's worth reminding people that your business model is not sacred. You have no right to a business model, and if some technology comes along that undermines your business model, that shouldn't be illegal. It just means the market has changed, and it's time you change along with it. And yes, for those who ask, please feel free to use AdBlock on this site if you want to. It's totally up to you, of course. You don't need my permission.

Reader Comments

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  1. icon
    Brendan (profile), 9 Oct 2009 @ 9:06pm

    People asking for AdBlock in Chrome

    Privoxy works great for that. It runs as a local http proxy, and you just pipe your Chrome traffic through it. Voila, Chrome sans ads.



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