Digital publishing house Axel Springer, based in Berlin, Germany, is in the news today for spending $343 million to purchase an 88 percent stake in Business Insider, bringing its total ownership to 97 percent (Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos owns the remaining 3 percent). But that’s not all that happened today: After suing Adblock Plus in its home town of Cologne, Germany, the publishing firm has lost its case, with the courts declaring, once again, that ad blocking is legal.
Thanks to its millions of users, Adblock Plus often comes under fire for providing the controversial service of ad blocking, which has been labeled everything from a revenue stealing scheme to a security and privacy implementation. Its parent company Eyeo, however, wants to be seen as more than just an ad-blocking firm; Adblock Plus offers an Acceptable Ads initiative: Blocking annoying ads is one thing, but allowing nonintrusive ads through is an attempt to find a compromise between users and advertisers.
Axel Springer argued that “it’s the constitutional right of the press to advertise,” so no product should be allowed to block those ads. The judge disagreed, and the publishing house then attacked Adblock Plus’ Acceptable Ads initiative. The judge again sided with the defendant, ruling that a white list for good advertisers should be allowed to exist.
Adblock Plus said Axel Springer’s lawyers asserted that “The core business of the plaintiff is to deliver ads to its visitors. Journalistic content is just a vehicle to get readers to view the ads.”
We presume that Axel Springer doesn’t actually believe what its lawyers said as part of their last-ditch effort. The journalists working at Business Insider would certainly disagree.
We reached out to Axel Springer and will update you if the company has anything to add about the case.