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


Reader Comments

The First Word

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  1. icon
    PaulT (profile), 6 Apr 2016 @ 12:14am

    Re:

    "The end result could be that the powerful internet sites will be those with access to funds outside of advertising, and not those which are the most popular or most informative."

    Here's the problem - a great many currently popular sites depend on advertising, and that's where the get the scourge of clickbait and tabloid lies. The popular sites are generally not particularly informative, as both their content and presentation are geared toward attracting advertising dollars. Popularity has never been an indicator of quality in any industry, and that is amplified in a world dominated by sites like the Daily Mail and Buzzfeed. Those sites dying would arguably be a great thing to happen.

    "The net effects for users may not be a real benefit."

    Or, they may be a great benefit to users. You have a lot of "may" in your claims here, but as ever no substance and no interest in discussing the alternate points of view. You're entitled to your own opinion, but not to pretend that your tastes are fact.

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