German court clears Adblock Plus again in lawsuit appeal

Countless numbers of web users are completely in love with adblocking, but there are those who have tried to have it deemed illegal. Adblock Plus has been in court over this before, and today a German court has ruled, once again, that its operations are entirely legal.

Publishing house Axel Springer sued Adblock Plus, saying that no company should be able to interfere with the display of ads. Axel Springer lost its case last year, but decided to appeal. Using a recent law to attack Adblock Plus' Acceptable Ads program, Axel Springer tried to get the adblocker banned. This failed, but Adblock Plus has been forced to offer free whitelisting to the publisher.

Axel Springer attempted to use a relatively recent statute about business practices to call on the Cologne court "to ban an adblocker if that ad blocker allows ads that meet certain criteria and requires that Springer needs to pay a fee for it". The way the Acceptable Ads program works has been discussed and analysed to death, and whitelisting for the vast majority of companies is usually free of charge.

In the case of larger companies, however, Adblock Plus would ordinarily charge a fee, but Axel Springer's latest attack means this fee will be waived for the publisher moving forward. Adblock Plus explains: "We have to change how we offer whitelisting to Axel Springer in Germany. Normally, because Axel Springer would probably qualify as a 'large entity' per our rules, they would pay; but because of this ruling, we have to treat them as a special case. Simply put, we can't accept compensation for the services we might render to them. So, if Springer brings us ads to whitelist, and these fit our criteria, we'll whitelist them for free just like the other 90 per cent of the companies on our whitelist."

So while Axel Springer's bid to outlaw Adblock Plus was unsuccessful, the publisher did manage to benefit from the case anyway. With lawyers having previously argued that Axel Springer's "core business is to deliver ads to its visitors. Journalistic content is just a vehicle to get readers to view the ads", the publisher will be able to continue to bring in revenue through ads.

Adblock Plus is due to appeal. It says: "we’re confident that Germany's supreme court (the Bundesgerichtshof) will overturn this one part of the decision".

Photo credit: Light And Dark Studio / Shutterstock