Adblock Plus and (a little) more

Five and oh … look, another lawsuit upholds users’ rights online · 2016-03-29 21:12 by Ben Williams

5:0 – we just won our fifth straight court battle in Germany, this one against the huge German daily paper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

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.

Süddeutsche Zeitung, the biggest German national subscription daily paper, did not agree with this and went after our Acceptable Ads initiative, arguing that allowing users to block ads while also offering a compromise like our whitelisting process should not be allowed. However, as in the previous cases, the judge struck them down.

In particular, the court said that there is no “contract” between publishers under which users have somehow “agreed” to view all the ads a publisher serves. To the contrary, said the court, users have the right to block those or any ads, because no such contract exists.

Additionally, the judge ruled that by offering publishers a way to serve ads that ad-blocking users will accept, the Acceptable Ad initiative provides them an avenue to monetize their content, and therefore is favorable, not disadvantageous, to them.

Finally, the Munich regional court said that the law does not exist to save or uphold publishers’ business model(s). Rather, according to the ruling, it is up to them to innovate.

… like maybe serving better ads? Look, we don’t want to pile on publishers here. We know that the transition from print to online is still a huge challenge. But we view ad blocking much like the court: as an opportunity, or a challenge, to innovate.

But I’m being a party pooper … What I should be saying is hurray – we won five in a row! Then again, maybe you’re getting tired of this sort of “news.” This is really just the next sequel in the series “GIANT GERMAN MEDIA vs ADBLOCK PLUS,” isn’t it? And you kinda know the ending by now, am I right? Well, true, but it’s important that you’re informed of the lengths to which some of the powers that be will go to restrict, curtail or outright ban your right to your screen.

At least that’s how we see it.

Comment [9]

  1. tonykeywest · 2016-03-30 01:07 · #

    A f ew times I was not allowed to continue to the content if I did not turn off the blocker. Thats all they have to do if they want to force you to watch ads. As for me I closed the window.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Yeah, it’s their site and of course their right to barricade out ad blockers. By the same token, it’s of course your right to show them the back door, which apparently you did :)

  2. HuiPui · 2016-03-30 10:47 · #

    No, it’s not – you can block most of these notifications using adblock, too ;-) That’s why they’re carrying it to the courts.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Not sure what you’re referring to exactly.

  3. HuiPui · 2016-03-30 11:55 · #

    This was actually a reply to the former comment by tonykeywest. Sorry for confusion.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Not your fault but mine rather :) My bad … Thanks for clarifying.

  4. Mark · 2016-03-30 14:23 · #

    Thank you for continuing to fight for our rights.

    It still amazes me that these corporations think that they can tell us what to install on our computers. I’ve never agreed to see a single ad on the Web. I also never agreed to have my Web traffic tracked by these companies.

    I will continue to block all of their ads to the best of my ability on all platforms at all times.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks for the kind words, Mark!

  5. News site reader and AdBlock Plus user · 2016-03-31 11:39 · #

    Congratulations AdBlock Plus and ad blockers, and people in general!

    I believe that what these websites (those who block people that use ad blockers) are saying is: Either make me richer, or I’ll censor you!

    There’s nothing wrong with making money, but what they do is called a ‘blackmail’. They’re not blocking us because ‘we’re not donating to some NGO’, they’re blocking us because we don’t want to get spammed by unnecessary ads that track us – that we don’t ask for – just to make money out of us readers.

    There’s no contractual relationship between publishers and readers, so readers don’t have to be blackmailed nor censored!

    Actually, people should claim they’re being censored.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks for the support!

  6. Macadblock · 2016-03-31 18:58 · #

    I cannot understand, why companies are putting websites on the internet – no one told them to do that, so it is their free decision. I can accept, when they say: Ok, if you use an adblocker, we do not show you our whole content (or: nothing). For me, that’s ok. I never, never think, that I have a right for a free (high quality) content. But these dumbs show their ads, even when you pay… But I think, companies think, they have a right to run a website and can blame the people, who are reading their content, but do no want to pay (=watching ads). Thats the same thing, as you would run a store and punish the people, who only want to see and do not buy anything. So I would say: Close the store/website but do not blame the people, who don’t like your content (means ads). So I say: Go on with adblocker, we have to fight for a free internet.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Yeah, putting the blame on people who have rejected traditional ads is the crux of the issue here.

  7. Thank you for adblocking · 2016-04-08 18:18 · #

    I can not wait sitting on my chair the day when 90% of internet users install Adblock Plus …

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thank you for your support!

  8. treos · 2016-04-19 18:59 · #

    2 in a row is good. 3 is great. but 5 in a row? that is awesome news. :D congrats once again to one of, if not, the worlds favorite adblocking software creators.

    Reply from Ben Williams:


  9. Paul · 2016-05-01 20:27 · #

    At the heart of it all is it not a basic usage issue as well? I know it may not seem like it to some but the fact is people bid for the lowest spots on some web properties to deliver ads and there is a huge trend suggesting that some bad actors use these low bids to purchase browser space to deliver malware and other bad things. At the end of the day an AdBlocker gives us the chance to say what content comes in and out of our own personal networks. Say I work for Company A and they have a strict policy about internet usage so to protect workers they install AdBlock network wide, do they not have the right as they have just reduced the bandwidth consumption network wide and jumped in front of a possible malware infection vector as well as protecting an individual employee from possibly breaking a company rule that would get them fired? Then there is the issue of a network wide ban on ads. Do I not have the right to use an IDS and SNORT to ban specific patterns of activity based on known past malware infection vectors that just so happens to block large content delivery networks as well as all IP’s that had been used in a malware campaign? In the world of pattern based recognition and cyber criminals the AdBlock is as important to the internet as water is to humans. We simply can not survive without these basic precautions and in a world where bandwidth is considered a necessity while still being charged insane amounts for it, do we not as well have the choice to say when and where without some lumbering company trying to enforce a single minded version of law that ultimately harms the rest of the internet? I wish Net Neutrality were an adopted standard that everyone on the internet lived by but I’ll settle for Wheaton’s Law so a hardy congratulations to you and yours and I know the vast majority of the internet is grateful you did not roll over at any time on these issues.

    Reply from Ben Williams:

    Thanks for the support! As important as water? Well … OK … treading carefully here. But your right on your machine? Absolutely!

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