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
    The Wanderer (profile), 8 Apr 2016 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Oh, I agree that any vaguely savvy user is going to find them more annoying than anything else - but unless you notice the new window before closing the one in front (e.g. via a Taskbar entry) and close it before even bringing it to the front, your eyes will inevitably glimpse the window contents at least in peripheral vision... and in the minds of the people who push such ads, that's enough to increase the mindshare of whatever they're pushing.

    (Also, far too many people don't meet even the low bar of "vaguely savvy".)
    Doubly annoying, since any site that merrily wastes my system's resources is also going to get less hits once I work out which is which.
    That's exactly the point, though.

    Yes, people who realize that a site is bothering them with pop-under ads are going to be less likely to visit that site - but the same is true with pop-up ads, and with pop-up ads, you usually notice the ad immediately, making it easy to tell which site triggered the ad.

    With pop-under ads, however, it's far more likely (relatively speaking) that you will fail to notice the new ad in time to directly connect it with the site which triggered it. Thus, the site is less likely to lose your traffic (especially if you're not savvy enough to track the ad back to its trigger by other means), or at least to lose it as soon - and the advertiser still gets the impression, as well as (at least by some lines of reasoning) the mindshare.

    Thus, you have both most of the advantages of a pop-up ad as well as one advantage - that disconnect - which a pop-up does not have. Thus, a reason for advertisers to use pop-under ads, which is what the question was about.

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