Adblock wins in court again – this time against German newspaper

Süddeutsche Zeitung comes off worst as court rules acceptable ads policy is A-OK

Adblock Plus has won another legal challenge in Germany against a daily newspaper which claimed its “acceptable ads” policy broke the law.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung argued that Adblock Plus's German owner Eyeo GmbH should not be allowed to block ads while also offering a “whitelisting” service to advertisers.

Adblock Plus operates a whitelisting policy, whereby advertisers can apply to have their ads unblocked as long as they adhere to its “acceptable ads” policy, which does not allow the display of ads it deems intrusive.

However, big corporations such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Taboola have paid AdBlock Plus to allow their ads to pass through its filter software.

The outfit said the ruling was its fifth court battle in Germany, this one against the paper.

Its first win was back in April last year, when Hamburg ruled against a group of German publishers who claimed the practice was illegal.

Adblock Plus's operations and communications manager, Ben Williams, said the court found there is no contract between publishers under which users have somehow “agreed” to view all the ads a publisher serves, commenting: "To the contrary, said the court, users have the right to block those or any ads, because no such contract exists."

The question of adblocking is becoming increasingly fraught, with a number of publishers attempting to prevent readers from using the services.

According to a report by Adobe and PageFair, a Dublin-based adblocking blocker, nearly $22bn (£15bn) in advertising revenue was lost last year due to the practice.

Publishers claim that in turn is putting a squeeze on the already-struggling industry.

French publishers are already starting to force users to uninstall the software before being able to read news content on some of their biggest media sites, according to reports.

A number of UK newspapers are also testing this approach. ®

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