The European publishing giant (which acquired Business Insider in 2015) argued that ad blocking, as well as the business model where advertisers pay to be added to the white list, violated Germany’s competition law. Axel Springer won a partial victory in 2016, when a lower court ruled that it shouldn’t have to pay for white listing.
However, the Supreme Court has now overturned that decision. In the process, it declared that ad-blocking and Eyeo’s white list are both legal. (German speakers can read the court’s press release.)
After the ruling, Eyeo sent me the following statement from Ben Williams, its head of operations and communications:
Today, we are extremely pleased with the ruling from Germany’s Supreme Court in favor of Adblock Plus/eyeo and against the German media publishing company Axel Springer. This ruling confirms — just as the regional courts in Munich and Hamburg stated previously — that people have the right in Germany to block ads. This case had already been tried in the Cologne Regional Court, then in the Regional Court of Appeals, also in Cologne — with similar results. It also confirms that Adblock Plus can use a whitelist to allow certain acceptable ads through. Today’s Supreme Court decision puts an end to Axel Springer’s claim that they be treated differently for the whitelisting portion of Adblock Plus’ business model.
Axel Springer, meanwhile, described ad blocking as “an attack on the heart of the free media” and said it would appeal to the country’s Constitutional Court.
— Adblock Plus (@AdblockPlus) April 19, 2018