Marketing 3 min read

Court Rules That This Ad Blocker Doesn't Break the Law

What would you do if your ad blocker was declared illegal? Don't worry just yet -- a German Supreme Court ruled in favor of this major ad blocking company to the dismay of a major European publisher.

Courts still protect our right to avoid ads. But, for how long? | Sammby | Shutterstock.com

Courts still protect our right to avoid ads. But, for how long? | Sammby | Shutterstock.com

Recently, a German court ruled to allow the use of ad blocker Adblock Plus.

Many people don’t want to constantly see ads as they surf the internet. In order to avoid ads, some use an ad blocker such as Adblock Plus.

Companies like publishers aren’t too happy with having their ads blocked as it significantly affects their revenue. But in another win for the ad blocker, a German Supreme Court ruled in favor for Adblock Plus.

But this isn’t the first time a court ruling sided in favor of Adblock Plus.

With over 10% of Internet-goers now using Adblock, it’s effect on advertisers is becoming a significant issue | Image via Wall Street Journal

Germany Upholds That Blocking Ads is Legal

German company Eyeo operates Adblocker Plus, one of the most popular ad blocker programs available. Over the years, the company fielded many lawsuits over various issues.

The main question at hand is “Is blocking ads legal?”

Axel Springer won a partial victory in a 2016 suit, but Germany’s Supreme Court overturned that decision. The landmark ruling confirms what courts in Hamburg and Munich had already stated.

Despite this ruling, Springer — the largest digital publishing house in Europe — soldiers on. They plan to appeal to the Constitutional Court with the charge that ad blockers actively disrupt the financial viability of digital media outlets.

Axel Springer acquired Business Insider in 2015

Continued Controversy for the Ad Blocker

Much of the controversy surrounding Adblock Plus in the early 2010s involved ad whitelisting. Part of this informs what the most recent court ruling addressed as ZDNet reported:

“Programs such as Adblock Plus jeopardize the quality and variety of information services and thus harm the interests of the general public.”

But Eyeo already tried to address this issue back in 2016. They adopted and then acquired Flattr – a service that enabled users to donate to online publishers directly. As mentioned, Springer intends to pursue an appeal.

Laura Dornheim, head of communications at Eyeo, echoed the court saying:

“The court said yesterday that there are plenty of ways for them to defend themselves against ad blocking and, more importantly, many other ways to finance high-quality content.”

In the context of Facebook’s recent scrutiny regarding ads and data privacy, Adblock Plus and other ad blocker programs may continue to receive judicial support. Since this is the case, digital media outlets will have to find a new way to generate revenue moving forward.

Without using advertising, how else can digital publishers generate revenue?

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Juliet Childers

Content Specialist and EDGY OG with a (mostly) healthy obsession with video games. She covers Industry buzz including VR/AR, content marketing, cybersecurity, AI, and many more.

Comments (2)
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  1. GreatTVDude April 26 at 4:38 pm GMT

    I don’t think the problem is people don’t want to see advertising, but that advertising has become intrusive. If I’m on Amazon looking at something and then I see that thing shown to me in an ad later, that means something took my information and is following me around. Not only have I never bought something from one of these ads, I have found them very concerning.

    There is nothing wrong with billboard style ads. For years, advertising was fine and then they kept pushing more and more annoying and intrusive ads. Publishers did this to themselves and I don’t feel bad for them. They got greedy and are now complaining that people had enough.

    Comply with people, let them know that advertising is needed to exist, promise not to have intrusive ads (ads that cheat for attention with flashes, sounds, movement, as well as data tracking), follow through on that promise and I think most people will be more than cooperative.

    • Juliet Childers May 02 at 4:30 pm GMT

      This is a really thoughtful response and I think I am inclined to agree.

      Ads have become intrusive and that’s the main issues — not the ads themselves.

      Thanks for the comment!

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