Making software to block annoying ads is legal, German court rules

There are other similar cases pending though so AdBlock Plus maker Eyeo is not home free yet

AdBlock Plus users in Germany can breathe easily: A court there has ruled that the browser extension for filtering annoying ads is legal to make and distribute.

German newspapers Zeit Online and Handelsblatt asked the Hamburg Regional Court to ban German company Eyeo from selling its AdBlock Plus software, arguing that it illegally interfered with their ad-based online business models.

The Hamburg court dismissed the complaint on Tuesday, although as is usual for German courts it will be another couple of weeks before publication of the written verdict containing the reasoning behind the ruling.

AdBlock Plus allows users to block annoying or intrusive ads, tracking software and malware via a browser plugin. The plugin does however allow some "acceptable ads" to pass through the software's filter mechanism, a practice which the company has been criticized for because it gets paid by companies including Google, Microsoft and Amazon.com to put their ads on the whitelist. Users though can tweak the filter to block all ads if they want to.

Eyeo welcomed the ruling in a blog post, saying that it was glad the court ruled that ad blocking is perfectly legal.

"The Hamburg court decision is an important one because it sets a precedent that may help us avoid additional lawsuits and expenses defending what we feel is an obvious consumer right: giving people the ability to control their own screens by letting them block annoying ads and protect their privacy," the company said.

The legal troubles over AdBlock Plus in Germany are far from over though. Both Zeit Online and Handelsblatt said in emailed statements they are still convinced that AdBlock Plus is illegal, anticompetitive and interferes with the freedom of the press. The companies will wait for the written judgement before they decide whether they will appeal the case.

Meanwhile, several other German media companies including IP Deutschland, the company behind RTL, and publisher Axel Springer also have lawsuits pending against Eyeo in which they demanded damages.

Eyeo said that now the first ruling is delivered, it wanted to reach out to publishers and advertisers to convince them to work with it rather than against it in order to develop new forms of nonintrusive ads that are actually useful and welcomed by users.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetadvertisingEyeoHandelsblattZeit Online

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?