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Defeat for Springer: Adblocking is not a copyright infringement


Adblocking has always been a thorn in the side of the media industry, because many media are dependent on advertising revenue. But while many sides are trying with goodwill, Springer-Verlag took legal action against the makers of AdBlock Plus – and failed. Publishers and media versus adblockers: This is a duel that has been going on for years and even decades. The Axel-Springer-Verlag (Bild, Welt etc.) took the matter to court and sued Eyeo, the company responsible for AdBlock Plus (not for the first time).

Although this was about a single provider, success would certainly have affected the entire adblocking industry. The argument of the Springer lawyers: An ad blocker not only interferes with the overall appearance, but also changes the code of a website. It is therefore an infringement of copyright law, since the code on a page falls under the copyright of a provider or publisher. Eyeo described this line of argument as “absurd” and pointed out that they didn’t even try to modify code on the Springer servers, rather the blocking of advertising takes place on the end devices of the users.

Compared to the Sony PSP

As TorrentFreak reported, Springer attempted to draw comparisons to a case involving Sony’s PlayStation Portable, in which code in memory was altered to allow for cheating. But the district court of Hamburg did not follow this argument.

According to this, the ad blocker manipulates the output of a website, but not the transmitted data itself mirror explains: “In the end, Adblock Plus does not change the program substance, but only the program flow.” The court also did not allow the argument that pages are “multimedia works” and are therefore protected as a total work of art. Reason: Since such pages are produced “industrially”, no claim can be made by a single creator.


Mark Goodman

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