Publishers are struggling with the increasing popularity of ad-blockers. According to a recent report by PageFair, ad-blocking services grew by 41% globally in the last 12 months and are estimated to cost publishers nearly $22 billion during 2015. More and more publishers around the world redirect readers using ad-blocker to a subscription page, asking them to sign up to newsletters, or disable their ad-blocking software. In addition it seems as though the “legal battle” between publishers and ad-blockers is far from over.
Blockr - one of new iOS 9 ad-blocking extensions that allow users to block ads in Safari - is facing a lawsuit filed by the Springer family, the publisher of one of Europe's biggest daily newspapers, “BILD”.
The lawsuit, which has been filed to the German District Court of Stuttgart, has as its objective, to prohibit Blockr’s developers from being able to “offer, advertise, maintain and distribute the service” which can be currently used to block ads. According to the plaintiff’s statement, ad- blocking interferes with the constitutionally protected position of publishing houses and endangers their profit model, and in the long run, the existence of professional online journalism.
Although the final ruling is due to be published later this month, at a Court hearing held on 19 November 2015, the Court dismissed the plaintiff’s petition for a preliminary injunction. According to Blockr’s lawyers’ statement , the court specifically considered that “it is the users’ independent decision to use content blocking software and that publishers like DIEWELT can adequately react to users who block certain content, for example by banning users of content or ad blockers. A measure already implemented by BILD regarding its online content can be found on www.bild.de.”
As we previously reported, this is not the first time ad-blocking software faces a “legal battle” in Germany. The previous two cases, in which publishers filed legal claims against ad-blocking browser extension (“Adblock Plus”), were dismissed by the respective courts which concluded that there is nothing inadmissible or anti-competitive in the service, or with its operators' activities.