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German court declares AdBlock Plus officially legal

After a four month legal battle, a Hamburg court has rejected a claim by German advertisers, declaring that AdBlock Plus is 100% legal

The creators of AdBlock Plus have won a case in Hamburg that has declared its ad-blocking software to be 100% legal. The company behind the ad-blocking software, Eyeo, had been sued by a group of German publishers, who argued that AdBlock Plus shouldn’t be allowed to block ads on websites that were owned by the plaintiffs.

The trial has been going on for the last four months, but today the German court delivered its verdict, rejecting Zeit Online GmbH and Handelsblatt GmbH’s claim for injuctive relief and ruling in favour of Eyeo and AdBlock Plus. This will be good news for both consumers and other ad-block companies alike, as it not only sets a precedent in favour of ad-blocking for future cases, but it should also allow customers to continue controlling what appears on their screen and web browsers. 

“We are extremely happy with the decision reached today by the Hamburg regional court,” the company said in an official statement. “This is a victory for every single Internet user because it confirms each individual’s right to block annoying ads, protect their privacy and, by extension, determine his or her own Internet experience. It is living proof of the unalienable right of every user to enjoy online self-determination.
“Adblock Plus will continue to provide users with a tool that helps them control their Internet experience. At the same time we will endeavour to work with publishers, advertisers and content creators to encourage nonintrusive ads, discover new ways to make ads better and push forward to a more sustainable Internet ecosystem.” 

Eyeo now wants to reach out to other publishers, advertisers and content creators to encourage them to work with AdBlock Plus and develop new forms of non-intrusive ads that don’t interrupt people’s web browsing experience.

AdBlock Plus came under fire earlier in the year, as it was discovered by The Financial Times that several leading tech companies were paying huge sums of money to Eyeo to ensure their adverts would appear on the software’s whitelist of approved and permitted ads. Previously, its FAQ mentioned that it would reward companies who don’t run intrusive ads, but it failed to mention that it also charged companies a fee to join the list.

This has now been changed on the company’s FAQ, which states, “Whitelisting is free for all small- and medium websites and blogs. However, managing this list requires significant effort on our side and this task cannot be completely taken over by volunteers as it happens with common filter lists. That’s why we are being paid by some larger properties that serve non-intrusive advertisements that want to participate in the Acceptable Ads initiative.”