In a statement, Eyeo GmbH, maker of the Ad Block Plus extension, responded to the recent lawsuit filed in German courts against them by asserting they are “relative calm” (sic) about the situation. Eyeo maintains that it has been successful in fending off lawsuits before and that ad-blocking has been approved in German courts previously (although that specific decision was about TV time-shifting it appears).
Pro Sieben Sat 1, the leading media company in the Eyeo lawsuit, has elaborated in the German press about their criticisms of Ad Block Plus, accusing Eyeo of “hijacking” pages and “fostering Google’s monopoly” position. By “way-laying” ads on the journey to consumers’ computer screens, and only letting ads pass after a payment of “ransom,” Eyeo acts according to Pro Sieben Sat 1 like a “highwayman.” In addition, by favoring text-only ads in their “Acceptable Ads” program, Ad Block Plus contributes to the near monopoly Google already has in online advertising. The new complaints are in addition to previous Pro Sieben Sat 1 charges of copyright infringement, because in their eyes, Ad Block Plus “alters” websites without authorization.
Currently, there has been no mention of further companies joining the suit, including German heavyweight Der Spiegel, as was rumored, but we will have to wait and see how things develop. One group that has declared its support for the litigation, however, is the German Advertisers Association, or “Organisation Werbungtreibende im Markenverband” (OWM). The OWM concurs with the lawsuit, but also emphasizes the negative effects of ad blocking on the Internet economy, not just for its advertiser members but for all online content providers, who depend on ad revenue for survival. The OWM were also big supporters of the “Turn Off Adblocker!” campaign from April of this year that enlisted the star of Germany’s version of The Office to get users to allow ads on content sites. Though they admit that the educational effect of the campaign remains unproven.