AdBlock Plus sued by German marketing companies

Loved by casual web surfers, hated by website operators.

Adblock Plus makers have been slapped with lawsuits by multiple marketing companies in Germany for affecting revenue by blocking ads.

The popular extension, available for all web browsers, blocks advertisements on websites, which is the primary source of revenue for marketing companies. Adblock Plus vendors have a controversial arrangement with some websites which have been whitelisted from the extension by default.

Now, a number of advertising companies in Germany have been reported to have filed lawsuits against Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus. The companies believe that the business model of Adblock Plus is illegal. It was recently reported that Google has been paying money in order to allow its ads to pass through Adblock Plus.

The RTL Group and ProSiebenSat.1 Media of Germany have confirmed to the Horzont magazine that they have filed a lawsuit in the Munich District Court. According to Horzont, many more media houses such as Focus Online and Chip Online have not yet decided whether to pursue legal action or not, but are open to the notion. A spokesperson for Eyeo, Ben Williams, has denied that any action has currently been taken against Adblock Plus.

Source: Spiegel (German) | Image: The Verge

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63 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I love AdBlock and i disabled it on all the websites i like and i support.We have the option of turning it off so stop bitching about it.This thing stopped malware,viruses and all the ###### loud audio ads getting in my computer.Until i can control what enters my computer adblock stays and gets my support against those butthurt marketing companies.´╗┐

My computer My rules

No media companies have dominion of what I choose to do. If I want ABP, it's my choice, ABP is not at fault here.

Well if ABP are taking money to whitelist some advertisments, they're pretty much monopolising the advertisment industry within its user base, which some could deem illegal.

That's if the paid to white list bit is true of course.

Personally I just think it's unethical to offer a free plugin to block adverts, which actually allows them to profit from white listed adverts.

All this said though, should users really have a choice? Websites you visit make the choice to profit from advertising. It's your choice to visit the content they upload. I think it could be looked at from a legal standpoint if it's preventing one or more parties from generating revenue.

" It was recently reported that Google has been paying money in order to allow its ads to pass through Adblock Plus"

Of course it's Google that they mention being the one paying ABP to whitelist their ads! :x

Between ABP and my host file, I haven't seen an ad in many years!

How the heck is it illegal?
1) It is a custom piece of software that someone wrote and there is no guarantee for the level of efficiency of functionality that is can produce or even objectivity in handling ads.
2) Advertising services are stupid. It's like I can't find a job. Let me make up one. Websites that need to advertise should be hosting their own ad scripts anyway which bypasses Adblock-plus. If a company wants to may me to advertise for them, I should be hosting the ads and not using a 3rd party "advertising company". The main advantage for this is advertising for actual products and not random things.

Edited by Hussam Al-tayeb, Jul 8 2014, 6:40pm :

it's a Protection scam the same as

a bunch of thugs walk into your business and say hey nice place it would be a shame if anything were to happen to it maybe you pay us and we'll make sure nothing will happen to it

They should have adapt iAds style which is far more interactive and innovative than 90% of current advertising model. Until then, i would consider allowing those ads to be part of internet and less cpu hog for better browsing experience. It has somehow stagnated and broken down the way marketing companies attempt to deliver those obtrusive ads that ultimately lead to large adblock user base.

What a load of bollocks. Damn advertisers!

They can advertise all they want but I have free choice as to what I want to see or what I do not want to see. My computer/TV/Phone, my bandwidth, my time.

Top Qat said,
What a load of bollocks. Damn advertisers!

They can advertise all they want but I have free choice as to what I want to see or what I do not want to see. My computer/TV/Phone, my bandwidth, my time.

The are not suing them because of the software they make, but because apparently they are asking money to let your Ad slip through their software. That seems like asking for a bribe to me.

Basically the creaters of ABP are running a protection scam pay us to allow your ads or we block them

thugs walk into a business pay us to leave you alone or we smash your stuff up

gb8080 said,
Malware writers suing antivirus companies?

In fact, antivirus companies sued MS because their in-build protection.


"The companies believe that the business model of Adblock Plus is illegal. It was recently reported that Google has been paying money in order to allow its ads to pass through Adblock Plus."

How's that?, it smells to BS, specially since we (ABP user) can watch youtube without any ads.

ad-makers brought on ad-blocker programs themselves, if I didn't run into expanding, sound blasting ad's I probably would have never bothered with a ad-blocker, I can live with the small ad that sticks to it small assign area and only has noise if you click on something to activate it.

The only ads which I hate are ads which take up the entire background of a website and slow the browsing speed down a lot, and ads which prevent me from access content on the internet such as those seen on twitch and YouTube.

The problem with these "marketing" companies is they assume that every time you go on the Internet it's because you want to buy something. Their entire business model is based on a wrong assumption. This lack of technological sophistication is destroying a technology the rest of us enjoy. They haven't a clue what they're doing and should cut it out before it gets cut out for them.

Major_Plonquer said,
The problem with these "marketing" companies is they assume that every time you go on the Internet it's because you want to buy something. Their entire business model is based on a wrong assumption. This lack of technological sophistication is destroying a technology the rest of us enjoy. They haven't a clue what they're doing and should cut it out before it gets cut out for them.

Assumption is the mother of all ###### ups.

Sometimes it's not just about "buying something". It's about awareness and for concepts to live in your subconscious which may influence your decisions later.

LOL, just installed Adblock Plus, and it stopped NEOWIN from opening. Had to uninstall to get the site back.

kraven said,
LOL, just installed Adblock Plus, and it stopped NEOWIN from opening. Had to uninstall to get the site back.

You're holding it wrong.

You could/should whitelist neowin anyway :)

D. FiB3R said,

You could/should whitelist neowin anyway :)

Neowin should host it's own ads, then they wouldn't get blocked by me

Note, this isn't about ABP blocking ads.

It's about ABP blocking ads and receiving payment to unblock them by default with the whitelist.

I'm guessing the marketing for this goes something like ...

Those are some nice looking ads you got there. Would be a shame if something were to happen to them on the way to your visitor's browser. Tell you what, pay us, and we'll protect those ads of yours and make sure nothin bad happens to em.

Edited by jasondefaoite, Jul 8 2014, 9:14am :

jasondefaoite said,
Note, this isn't about ABP blocking ads.

It's about ABP blocking ads and receiving payment to unblock them by default with the whitelist.

I'm guessing the marketing for this goes something like ...

Those are some nice looking ads you got there. Would be a shame if something were to happen to them on the way to your visitor's browser. Tell you what, pay us, and we'll protect those ads of yours and make sure nothin bad happens to em.

Well although I hate ads, what they are doing kind of sucks. If only there is an alternative I am so gonna switch it.

jasondefaoite said,

Adblock Edge. A fork of ABP without the sponsored whitelist.

Oh damn... Sadly it is only for Firefox. I am currently using Chrome. Really thanks anyway!

They're not the only ones who have "useful ads" either. Picked up AdGuard a month or so ago because Chrome's ad blockers just flat out suck, it does the same thing, a few are whitelisted by default. Either way though *shrug* as long as it's just an option.

akav0id said,
Well, use a different Adblock. Like this > https://chrome.google.com/webs...?utm_source=chrome-ntp-icon, that became available for Chrome MONTHS before ABP did

Nothing comes close to "┬ÁBlock" (from the maker of HTTP Switchboard, NoScript equivalent for Chrome, if not better) . right now it's the best available adblocking plug-in in Chrome/Chromium based browsers. far superior than adblock plus/adblock/Ad-guard etc in both the blocking capabilities, in vast selection of lists, plus it's much lower in cpu/ram usage.

https://chrome.google.com/webs...afiamejdnhcphjbkeiagm?hl=en

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8tGAPYLGtI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SzJr4hmPlgQ

Benchmarks
https://github.com/gorhill/uBl...ing-ads,-trackers,-malwares

Are they also going to sue every user out there that has a brain to add a few lines into a HOSTS file or a TPL file?

elenarie said,
Are they also going to sue every user out there that has a brain to add a few lines into a HOSTS file or a TPL file?

great isn't it, when the criminals sue the innocent victims.

elenarie said,
Are they also going to sue every user out there that has a brain to add a few lines into a HOSTS file or a TPL file?

They are suing over a product which advertises behaviour that interferes with their revenue model. But they cannot sue individuals for using said product (and certainly not for doing manual workarounds like editing the HOSTS file), I believe.

Even if they could sue individuals, it would not help them in any way and they know it - a marketing company shouldn't alienate the target of their ads more than absolutely necessary.

Question is, are eyeo creating software that smashes down billboards or are they creating blinkers for the user? Very different things with a very different outcome.

Can I sue these marketing companies for displaying unwanted ads on MY computer?
I never gave them permission to display them on my screen or in my browser.

Can I charge them for my time reading them?
Can I charge them for the bandwidth they suck up?

Well technically its the website administration thats displaying them to you not the ads company directly. Its like saying can you sue for more and more based on how many images or characters they use because it eats up your bandwidth?

I believe the suit is rubbish but your examples are just as rubbish as the suit.

dvb2000 said,
Can I sue these marketing companies for displaying unwanted ads on MY computer?
I never gave them permission to display them on my screen or in my browser.

Can I charge them for my time reading them?
Can I charge them for the bandwidth they suck up?

No. You can however choose to go to another website where the owner may wish to not display ads. Website owners can do what they want on their own website.

Nashy said,
No. You can however choose to go to another website where the owner may wish to not display ads. Website owners can do what they want on their own website.

Sorry, I have no agreement with any website or marketing company to be spammed by their ads. They are doing it against my wishes, and I have not consented to receive them.

I have just as much right to block them, or sue the marketing company spamming me with them, in fact spam is illegal. Whether its in my inbox, or my browser, its illegal unless I have consented to receive them.

dvb2000 said,

Sorry, I have no agreement with any website or marketing company to be spammed by their ads. They are doing it against my wishes, and I have not consented to receive them.

I have just as much right to block them, or sue the marketing company spamming me with them, in fact spam is illegal. Whether its in my inbox, or my browser, its illegal unless I have consented to receive them.

You have every right to block them, no one is stopping you from doing that. So you have no one to sue.

The website content isn't up to you either. The website owner doesn't need your permission. If you don't like the ads, or the content, don't go there. You can't sue me because you don't like an ad my website.

And FYI. You also can't sue the TV stations for displaying ads, or the news paper that you paid money for.

dvb - most sites have a point in their ToS to display ads to you and once you check the box "I agree" you have agreed to see them.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
dvb - most sites have a point in their ToS to display ads to you and once you check the box "I agree" you have agreed to see them.

Which will not stand in court, as it has been proven time and time again. Clicking a button does not bind you legally to something. :laugh:

I have never said that ToS is above the law but Id like to see him going court against a site for showing ads. Good luck with that.

dvb2000 said,
Can I sue these marketing companies for displaying unwanted ads on MY computer?
I never gave them permission to display them on my screen or in my browser.

Can I charge them for my time reading them?
Can I charge them for the bandwidth they suck up?


When you visit a website or anything else, you agree with also seeing those ads. It's because of those ads that you can access the actual content for free.

What AdBlock is doing here is asking money from companies for hostaging their income.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
I have never said that ToS is above the law but Id like to see him going court against a site for showing ads. Good luck with that.

Ye, but its not that much different than suing people for blocking ads.

dvb2000 said,
Can I sue these marketing companies for displaying unwanted ads on MY computer?
I never gave them permission to display them on my screen or in my browser.

Can I charge them for my time reading them?
Can I charge them for the bandwidth they suck up?

They (marketing companies) are NOT displaying ads automatically on your computer (for which you could sure them). YOU are the one opening the website which contains ads. The websites are NOT owned by you and just because it's your computer (technically you don't even own the OS) doesn't mean you can sue anyone for extra things attached with things you (voluntarily) merely ACCESS from your computer.
Think about it. Without ads everything on the Internet would be paid. I don't mind ads - but ads with video/audio are completely unacceptable to me.

Swapnil Rustagi said,

ads with video/audio are completely unacceptable to me.

Not to mention the ones that are Malware or fake Antivirus ones, or even worse the ones where the ad network is using ###### poor secuirty and leading to an actual malware drop.

Seen a couple of the fake flash player ones on Deviant art that hijack the browser window and redirect you.

I say we open up a class action lawsuit! I want my bandwidth back AND I want backpay for all the ads they displayed on my screen without permission (charges). Plus some ads were very damaging (disturbing) as well as infected with malware from time to time. They must take responsibility. How can we open up this lawsuit?

dragon2611 said,

Not to mention the ones that are Malware or fake Antivirus ones, or even worse the ones where the ad network is using ###### poor secuirty and leading to an actual malware drop.

Seen a couple of the fake flash player ones on Deviant art that hijack the browser window and redirect you.

Yeah, thanks I missed them out from my comment by mistake.

Izlude said,

I say we open up a class action lawsuit! I want my bandwidth back AND I want backpay for all the ads they displayed on my screen without permission (charges)

Definitely, as soon as you pay the webmasters for making their content available to you without asking for money. The content on the web is NOT free - although you can block the ads, you should block only ads that are very annoying, or of some fake/malicious app, or the ones that dragon2611 said and let the other ads through in a bid to support webmasters so that quality content remains available freely on the Internet.

Morphine-X said,
... Its like saying can you sue for more and more based on how many images or characters they use because it eats up your bandwidth?

I believe the suit is rubbish but your examples are just as rubbish as the suit.


It's not just characters and images. Many of these ads now are flash video. That does eat bandwidth, especially when they auto-play.

It's actually a lot more complicated than it appears. You might not like those annoying ads popping up as you do your day-to-day browsing but you're looking at the whole situation only from your own viewpoint and convenience. In reality, someone or some company is paying money to have all those web sites and web services you take advantage of. Some sites are indeed 'pay-for' sites to access them but for the most part your web viewing is 'free'. But note that it's only 'free' for you, in the background money is part of the process and most sites don't have a foundation or other financial backing to pay for developers, hosting, maintenance, etc. So that's where ads come into play. Annoying and occasionally problematic yes, but selling ad space is often the most common way for most sites to continue existing. It might be a corporate behemoth like Google who have a business model offering services funded by ads or just the individual who cannot afford the out-of-pocket expenses to keep their sites going. For now ads on sites will remain an imperfect way to keep the web open to public consumption.

Studio384 said,

When you visit a website or anything else, you agree with also seeing those ads. It's because of those ads that you can access the actual content for free.

What AdBlock is doing here is asking money from companies for hostaging their income.

They don't, though. Users choose to use it, and users choose what ads are allowed on what pages if they don't.

Oh man, I hate all those floating ads with a passion! And the way to close them in most cases involves opening the dang thing.

dvb2000 said,

Sorry, I have no agreement with any website or marketing company to be spammed by their ads. They are doing it against my wishes, and I have not consented to receive them.

I have just as much right to block them, or sue the marketing company spamming me with them, in fact spam is illegal. Whether its in my inbox, or my browser, its illegal unless I have consented to receive them.

Wrong, from a legal standpoint here. Ads on websites follow under similar rules like ads on a TV program. When watching a TV show, are you going to be able to sue the marketing company and studio for showing an ad you did not want to see on your TV? No. It is the TV networks choice what they present on their network, whether or not you choose to view it, that is your choice. Same thing when you view a website, it is the website owner's choice of what content they choose to display, and they may choose to display some ads and when you access the site, owned by someone else, you are choosing to visit that page and have no legal right into what content is displayed when you visit it.