German publisher Axel Springer has been trying in vain to get adblockers declared illegal. In its latest lawsuit against Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, Axel Springer still has not achieved success in getting adblockers banned, but the publisher has achieved a partial victory. The court’s ruling reaffirms previous rulings that found adblockers to be legal, but it does prevent Eyeo from charging Axel Springer in order to whitelist its ads.
Adblock Plus allows users to set their preferences so they can see whitelisted ads, and Eyeo encourages users to do so in order to support publishers. Eyeo states that whitelisting is based on objective criteria which make the ads acceptable. In many cases, there is no charge for whitelisting, but Eyeo does take money from large publishers. Eyeo confirms in a blog post that Axel Springer will be whitelisted free of charge as long as their ads meet the criteria for acceptable ads.
The post states, “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 percent of the companies on our whitelist.” The post also concludes that Eyeo will be appealing to the supreme court, and expresses confidence that it will overturn this ruling against paid whitelisting.
Axel Springer issued a statement praising the ruling. It said, “The court decision sends a clear signal to ad blockers. We will not accept illegal interferences with our constitutionally guaranteed freedom in designing media products — in particular, the ‘cutting out’ of ads from our digital media offerings.”
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