Recently, a German court ruled to allow the use of ad blocker Adblock Plus.

Many people don’t want to constantly see ads as they surf the internet. In order to avoid ads, some use an ad blocker such as Adblock Plus.

Companies like publishers aren’t too happy with having their ads blocked as it significantly affects their revenue. But in another win for the ad blocker, a German Supreme Court ruled in favor for Adblock Plus.

But this isn’t the first time a court ruling sided in favor of Adblock Plus.

image of WSJ ad blocker for article Court Rules That This Ad Blocker Doesn't Break the Law
With over 10% of Internet-goers now using Adblock, it’s effect on advertisers is becoming a significant issue | Image via Wall Street Journal

Germany Upholds That Blocking Ads is Legal

German company Eyeo operates Adblocker Plus, one of the most popular ad blocker programs available. Over the years, the company fielded many lawsuits over various issues.

The main question at hand is “Is blocking ads legal?”

Axel Springer won a partial victory in a 2016 suit, but Germany’s Supreme Court overturned that decision. The landmark ruling confirms what courts in Hamburg and Munich had already stated.

Despite this ruling, Springer — the largest digital publishing house in Europe — soldiers on. They plan to appeal to the Constitutional Court with the charge that ad blockers actively disrupt the financial viability of digital media outlets.

image of Axel Springer and Business Insider logos for article Court Rules That This Ad Blocker Doesn't Break the Law
Axel Springer acquired Business Insider in 2015

Continued Controversy for the Ad Blocker

Much of the controversy surrounding Adblock Plus in the early 2010s involved ad whitelisting. Part of this informs what the most recent court ruling addressed as ZDNet reported:

“Programs such as Adblock Plus jeopardize the quality and variety of information services and thus harm the interests of the general public.”

But Eyeo already tried to address this issue back in 2016. They adopted and then acquired Flattr – a service that enabled users to donate to online publishers directly. As mentioned, Springer intends to pursue an appeal.

Laura Dornheim, head of communications at Eyeo, echoed the court saying:

“The court said yesterday that there are plenty of ways for them to defend themselves against ad blocking and, more importantly, many other ways to finance high-quality content.”

In the context of Facebook’s recent scrutiny regarding ads and data privacy, Adblock Plus and other ad blocker programs may continue to receive judicial support. Since this is the case, digital media outlets will have to find a new way to generate revenue moving forward.

Without using advertising, how else can digital publishers generate revenue?

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