German courts have once again declared that blocking ads is legal.
Eyeo GmbH is the company behind the popular browser extension Adblock Plus. Adblock removes advertisements from the internet, making your browsing experience, and especially services like YouTube, much more enjoyable. Unsurprisingly, this has landed the company in the German courts numerous times by publishers angry at the lost advertising opportunities. No fewer than six cases have been tried against Eyeo, and one has made it through appeals court as well. Each time, the courts have ruled that it is not against German law to stop ads online.
The latest lawsuit comes from Germany’s largest ad company, Spiegel Online, run by the same company that publishes the news magazine Der Spiegel. Eyeo disclosed yesterday that its legal team had been contacted by phone to let them know that the case had been dismissed. The judge’s reasoning will be made clear later this week when an official written decision is completed.
“Every single case wants to do the same thing,” said Ben Williams, Eyeo’s head of communications. “They say we shouldn’t offer a service that allows users to block ads.” Every case to this point has claimed that the software violates Germany’s unfair competition act. Eyeo requires payment from companies to whitelist certain ads, and also has requirements as to what such ads can look like. The payment is usually 30% of the ad revenue generated by Adblock Plus users watching the white-listed ads. Williams says that this revenue stream in fact, is what gives Eyeo the ability to fight lawsuits in court.
One case brought by publisher Alex Springer, has seen a partial win for the publisher. Eyeo was forced to change the way it offers white-listing to ad companies, but the publisher is still forced to comply with Eyeo’s guidelines for acceptable adverts. Eyeo is appealing this case.
source: Ars Technica