Newspaper Org Warns Brave: Ad Block In Browser Is Illegal

Whatever else happens in the great ad blocking upheaval, one thing is clear. There’s no love lost between publishers and ad blocking technology providers. 

This week, 17 members of the Newspaper Association of America, representing a total of around 1,200 newspapers across the U.S., signed a letter to Brave warning that its plans for ad-blocking and replacement in its new browser are illegal.

After unveiling its open-source Web browser in January, Brave Software proposed a new business model that would include blocking publishers ads and replacing them with its own ads, while still displaying the publishers’ content on the browser and apps.

According to the letter from the NAA, this strategy would contain a laundry list of infractions, including copyright infringement, breach of contract, unauthorized access to Web sites, unfair competition and a violation of the publishers’ terms of use.

The publishers dismissed Brave’s offer to share revenue from ads and enable customers to make Bitcoin donations to publishers as window-dressing for an essentially illegal business model. NAA CEO David Chavern stated: “Brave’s proposed business model crosses legal and ethical boundaries, and should be viewed as illegal and deceptive by the courts, consumers and those who value the creation of content.”

The letter states, in part: “Our sites and mobile applications provide news reporting, photojournalism, video content and feature writing that is researched, reported, edited and produced at extraordinary cost. Our industry spends more than $5 billion per year on reporting in the United States alone.  We distribute that reporting online for free or at highly subsidized rates, in no small part due to revenue from online ads.”

Recently, representatives from a number of “high traffic” sites in the U.S. said they are likely to support legal action to ward off the threat of ad blockers, according to a new report from Medianomics. The firm surveyed 42 sites and multisite networks that represent an aggregate 2.2 billion visits per month.

It found collective legal action was the most popular course of action.

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