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German court denies sites' plea to oust AdBlock Plus

By Michael Thomas     Apr 22, 2015 in Technology
Two news publishers who want to see advertisement-banishing AdBlock Plus unable to use its tech on their pages have lost their case in court.
A court in Hamburg ruled Tuesday that AdBlock Plus can continue to allow its technology on the pages of Die Ziet and Handelsblatt, two news publishers. They argued that AdBlock Plus's business model is anti-competitive and plain illegal.
AdBlock Plus is a free browser extension that eliminates most ads from web pages. It makes its money through a white list program. Sites can seek permission to allow ads, so long as they're deemed "acceptable." The ads can't feature sound or video, nor can they pop up and cover other parts of the site.
The service maintains sites can't "buy their way" onto the white list, however it does charge money for unspecified "support services."
The court ruled web users have the right to use AdBlock Plus and the judgment will likely set a precedent for AdBlock's other court cases — against companies RTL Interactive, ProSiebenSat.1 and Axel Springer. Ben Williams, project manager for AdBlock plus, wrote in a blog post that he expects the decision to cut down on lawsuits against the service.
However, the German publishers aren't finished fighting against the service. In a joint statement, they said they still believe the service is illegal and infringes on freedom of the press. They added they will wait for an explanation for their loss in court and pursue options for an appeal.
AdBlock Plus has been downloaded some 400 million times, and AdBlock, another service, has downloads into the hundreds of millions as well.
Digital Journal's technology editor-at-large, James Walker, wrote recently in an op-ed that ad blockers are putting the Internet in jeopardy by preventing sites from generating much-needed ad revenue. One company told the Financial Times it would have had to pass on 30 percent of ad revenue to allow AdBlock to white list it.
More about adblock plus, die zeit, Handelsblatt, Publishing, ad blockers