For The Fifth Time Now, German Court Says Adblocking Is Legal

from the wanna-go-for-six? dept

A few months back we noted that various German publishers, including publishing giant Axel Springer kept suing adblockers, claiming they were illegal... and they kept losing. AdBlock Plus notes that German publishers are now 0 for 5 as yet another legal challenge to ad blocking has been rejected:

We received news late last week that we’d won our fifth straight lawsuit in Germany. This time it was brought by one Germany’s top newspapers, the Süddeutsche Zeitung (think a German version of the New York Times), and it follows victories over Axel Springer, RTL Interactive, ProSieben/Sat1 and Zeit/Handelsblatt. (That’s a veritable who’s who of old guard German publishing btw.)

The setting was Munich this time round, but the outcome was the same as the four times previous: it is indeed legal for users to block ads and our Acceptable Ads initiative is not a detriment for publishers but rather a potential benefit to them.

The judge clearly recognized the issues, noting that there's no contract between users and a site that requires them to view ads, no matter how much publishers may want to pretend that what they refer to as a "social contract" is somehow a legal contract. The court also, rightly, noted that the law is not designed to pump up a business model that is failing, and that it's up to the publishers themselves to create better business models.

Even though we're a publisher who relies on ads for some of our revenue, we've never been shy about recognizing that ad blockers are an essential form of freedom for users, to control what goes into their computers, and an important security tool as well. Would our own lives be easier if ad blockers didn't exist? Perhaps. But, as always, the onus needs to be on us to build business models that work, and not rely on forcing people into doing things they're not comfortable doing.

The sooner more publications realize this, the sooner we can get past the broken system we have of online advertising today.

Filed Under: ad blocking, germany


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Apr 2016 @ 7:00pm

    Re: Re:

    And yet, 10 or 20% stories being promotional are tolerable (and I can just ignore them), while 4-5 pop ups on my browser that slow down my computer, plus some being a potential risk (some come with virus) and that's when they don't load videos with sound that annoy me as I use to listen to music...

    Yeah. I think I prefer "sponsored stories" by a mile.


    And yet, I don't mind banners and static images that much (as long as they don't have virus or are too heavy).

    It's their excessive approach trying to FORCE my attention like pop-ups or video ads do what annoys me. And most users are like that too.


    And you know, the spread use of those practices is what got people into installing ad-blocks. If they had been more moderate in their advertising, that practice wouldn't have been so spread as it's now.

    Now, it's them themselves the ones who are killing the golden goose, not the users.


    And on another note regarding this article. It's irrelevant whether the sites get their revenue or not to make it punishable by law.

    In the end, it's MY own computer and I decide what I want to see on it or not, and what I install on it or not. Sites have their perfect right to give me access or not, of course.

    But what I install to block what I don't want to see it's up to me, and it's not something that a judge should decide (I'm free to self censor whatever information I don't want to see).

    It's as if some TV maker decided to create a device that blocks and identifies ads (prolly smart TVs will start getting such a feature at some point).


    PS: also, if some ads didn't threat their potential customers as if they were IDIOTS, people wouldn't hate them so much. That's another point to take into account, I'd say.

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