Adblock Plus won another legal battle with German publishers

Adblock Plus celebrated another substantial legal victory after one of Germany’s biggest newspapers, Süddeutsche Zeitung, had its lawsuit against the company’s "Acceptable Ads" dismissed. The case targeted the ad-blocking company’s Acceptable Ads program, which whitelists select publishers, based on whether their ads meet a set of criteria, and in the case of larger companies, whether they are willing to pay for it.

At the end of March 2016, a German regional court ruled that using Adblock Plus to block ads on websites is legal. The regional court also ruled that the Acceptable Ads initiative is acceptable under German law. As part of the ruling, the regional  court dismissed  the newspaper’s argument that Adblock Plus was interfering in a contract which readers were entering into with the newspaper that included accepting ads.

The lawsuit, brought by the company which is behind the leading German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, marks the fifth successive legal victory for Adblock Plus's parent company Eyeo in Germany. Nevertheless, the ruling is unlikely to indicate the end of legal challenges to Eyeo, and the decision could be appealed. It remains to be seen how this ruling will affect the ad blocking software industry.

US newspaper groups stand together amid ad blocker's challenge

A group of the biggest US newspaper publishers threatened the maker of the new Brave browser with legal action if Brave Software goes ahead with plans to replace websites' ads with its own.

The  new  browser, the  launch  of which was  announced  earlier this year,  is available on multiple platforms, and has ad-blocking software imbedded in it, which blocks all ads by default and replaces them with its own ads which it argues load quicker and protect data sovereignty and the anonymity of users by blocking tracking pixels and cookies.

In a cease-and-desist letter addressed to Brave's CEO, the 17 newspaper-publishing companies that cosigned the letter, argued that Brave's advertising-replacement plan would constitute copyright infringement, a violation of the publishers' terms of use, unfair competition, unauthorized access to their sites, and a breach of contract, and in this regard, these publishers intend to fully enforce their rights.

It may be the case that the Newspaper Association of America intends to litigate away ad blockers. However, that strategy has proven to be “challenging” outside the US, as reported above regarding Adblock Plus's cases in Germany.