Wherever you stand on the adblocking debate – often somewhere between the protection of people’s rights not to be bombarded or a destroyer of jobs and industries – there’s no getting around the fact that if you’re anti-adblocking, you’re on the consistently losing side, legally speaking.
According to a statement from Adblock Plus, it’s just won its fifth legal challenge in court in Germany, this time against the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
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The crux of most of the complaints against Adblock Plus specifically (rather than all adblockers in general) is the company’s use of an Acceptable Ads program – a whitelist that allows through ads from companies who pay a fee. According to the company, rather than being a move that holds publishers and ad networks to ransom, it’s an initiative that “not a detriment for publishers but rather a potential benefit to them,” it argues.
As has been the case in previous decisions, the ruling went Adblock Plus’ way, with the court deciding there’s no contract between publishers and readers that guarantees that visitors will see all the ads placed on a site. It also ruled that the Acceptable Ads policy was in fact a benefit and not a hindrance to publishers.
Perhaps most devestatingly – and tellingly for the entire ad industry – however, were the court’s comments that the law doesn’t exist to uphold a particular (entrenched) business model.
It’s innovate or die out there, whichever way you look, and publishing is no different.