German Ruling Bolsters Adblock Plus' Rallying Cry

A Munich court ruled in favor of Adblock Plus Tuesday after one of Germany’s biggest newspapers, Süddeutsche Zeitung, challenged the ad-blocking company's software and Acceptable Ads initiative.

The Guardian reported that the court rejected Süddeutsche Zeitung's argument that Adblock Plus was interfering in a contract readers entered into with the newspaper that included accepting ads.

The ruling this week is Adblock Plus's fifth legal win in Germany, with the other victories against RTL Interactive, ProSieben, Axel Springer, Handelsblatt and Sat1 and Zeit. Ad-blocking penetration in Germany was 25%, according to a 2015 report from Dublin-based analytics firm PageFair and Adobe.

In a blog post after the ruling, Adblock Plus spokesperson Ben Williams said, "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."

Williams' post went on to say "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."

Adblock Plus, a software developer, is not in violation of U.S. net neutrality rules, which apply to broadband carriers who block or degrade content.

The company has been called extortionists by Interactive Advertising Bureau president Randall Rothenberg, but so far, the IAB hasn't taken legal action. Last September, Scott Cunningham, SVP and general manager of the trade organization's Technology Lab,  told Ad Age that the IAB is "far away" from a conclusion on whether legal action is a legit option.

Next story loading loading..