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Adblock again beats publishers' Adblock-blocking attempts

Hamburg court upholds individuals' right to block ads

Adblock Plus is celebrating, but publishers are scratching their heads, after German courts ruled blocking online advertisements is legal.

All claims brought by German media cornerstone Spiegel Online against Eyeo GmbH, creators of Adblock Plus, were late last week dismissed by a court in Hamburg, Germany.

Seven media houses including Germany's Holtzbrinck, Handelsblatt, and Axel-Springer-Verlag have now lost lawsuits against the ad blocker.

Axel-Springer-Verlag won an appeal ruling that Adblock Plus cannot charge it to have its ads whitelisted under the latter's paid exception rule for ads it deems non-intrusive.

Germany's Chamber for Competition Law has not yet published an explanatory statement.

Adblock Plus head of operations and communications man Ben Williams says the decision is "another victory for consumers and ad-blocking providers".

"It's another victory for consumers and ad-blocking providers everywhere: we were informed on Friday by the regional court in Hamburg, Germany that blocking online ads is still your legal right," Williams said on the AdBlock company blog.

"... all the other ad- and content -blockers benefit from each lawsuit we win – because let’s not forget that if one ad blocker is outlawed in Germany a slew of lawsuits will eventually outlaw them all."

Williams says Spiegel is a "fantastic publication" despite the legal stoush.

Spiegel Online says some 25 percent of readers block ads on its site, and requests readers whitelist ads across its site.

Use of advertisement blockers in Germany has fallen to about 19.11 per cent down from 21.16 percent in the third quarter 2015, reports.

As this writer argued in a feature published August last year the use of script blockers, as distinct from advertising blockers, is a legitimate security defence tool to protect against the then-unchecked threat of malvertising.

Those attacks abused fundamental architectural flaws in the dynamic online advertising models used by almost all sites to serve the world's most piercing exploit kits to users.

Malvertising threats appear to have plummeted thanks to the arrest of the indefatigable authors of the Angler exploit kit by Russian police. ®

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